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Worth A Look: 6.67%
Just Average: 3.33%
Pretty Crappy: 23.33%
Sucks: 0%

2 reviews, 18 user ratings

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American Pop
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by Charles Tatum

"American Crap"
2 stars

"American Pop" is Ralph Bakshi's best film...that's not saying much considering this man also assaulted us with "Fritz the Cat," the animated "The Lord of the Rings," "Wizards," and the really awful "Hey Good Lookin'."

The story follows four generations of a Russian immigrant family, and their cosmic involvement in their respective worlds of popular music. Jimmy is a vaudevillian who gets shot in the throat in WWI and must manage the career of his singer wife. He also gets involved with the mob thanks to prohibition. His son, Benny, is a piano genius who is killed is WWII. Benny's son is the misfit Tony, who we follow from the Beat generation to a drug induced 1970's. Tony's one night stand product, Pete, continues the drug trade, but can belt out one mean tune in the punk rock late 1970's.

Bakshi's animation still consists of tracing live action onto film as animated subjects. This makes for some really jerky scenes, although not on the headache inducing level of his earlier work. There are a few places where the work is downright interesting, like Tony's acid trip and eventual fall from a stage, and Pete's dancelike movements as he delivers his drugs to his customers.

Bakshi's biggest mistake is using well known songs in the soundtrack, and attributing them to cartoon characters. Pete writes "Night Moves." Benny comes up with "As Time Goes By" after stealing the riff from a hobo. Tony wrote "Somebody to Love." I found this angle of the film irritating. It is not like no one has ever heard of these songs, and would be fooled. It just seems as if the film makers were too lazy to come up with their own material, and the songwriters and publishing houses were too eager to sell their stuff for a quick buck. Since the entire film consists of this one family coming up with all the great songs of the last eighty years, toss any suspense out the window as to what each generation is going to accomplish.

Bakshi is also obsessed with the illegal drug culture in the final half of the film. What is this, "Panic in Needle Park"? Watching cartoon characters shooting heroin is bizarre, but pointless. I ask the same question I ask of some of Bakshi's other work, specifically "Hey Good Lookin'," why did he animate this? Why didn't he shoot this with live actors? The animation, while interesting, is completely unwarranted.

In the end, "American Pop" is as homogenized and half baked as much of the music coming out today. Then again, I'd rather watch Britney Spears cavort in low riding jeans than sit through this music mondo mockumentary again.

"American Pop" has left the building, don't bring it back next year.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=3294&reviewer=325
originally posted: 02/28/03 19:55:42
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User Comments

5/26/14 Carol I seen better animation than this. When you have songs. Play them all the way through. 3 stars
3/26/13 brian "Looks like a cross between Johnny Rotten and Elvis Costello"?! NOT. Good film, poor ending 4 stars
9/07/12 Jim Kline 5 stars
4/29/11 J Fields Its' animation keeps the film from drowning in musical sentimentality. 4 stars
10/26/06 Isaac Baranoff An excellent film from one of animation's finest animators. A cut above the rest. 5 stars
8/05/05 Zack Another Bakshi classic! 5 stars
8/05/05 Pierre Terrific! 5 stars
2/15/05 Wilt Chamberlin Give me a break -- this movie had cool music, excellent animation, and a wonderful score! 5 stars
1/30/05 Dom DeWilde Charles Tatum sucks. Bakshi rules! 5 stars
12/13/04 Yvette Johnson Charles Tatum sucks. Bakshi friggin' rules! 5 stars
9/07/04 IMB Excellent 5 stars
7/28/04 Yuma Bill This is a character movie: each with his own struggles and failures. Unpredictable. 5 stars
4/24/04 Ivan Cult movie 5 stars
3/30/04 Gray Amazing 5 stars
1/16/04 Ben Katzenberg Phenomenal, a real insight into our culture 5 stars
11/26/03 Gil An animated Masterpiece. I knew nothing of Bakshi or done in the 80's. Phenomenal!!! 5 stars
6/03/03 Charles Tatum Bakshi sucks 2 stars
11/09/00 Adam Noble Amazing animation, music... just an incredibly moving piece of cinema. 5 stars
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  13-Feb-1981 (R)
  DVD: 17-Jun-1998



Directed by
  Ralph Bakshi

Written by
  Ronnie Kern

  Jerry Holland
  Roz Kelly
  Vincent Schiavelli
  Richard Moll

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