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Nine Lives of Fritz the Cat, The
Made two years after the success of Ralph Bakshi's animated adaptation of Robert Crumb's underground comix character Fritz The Cat, Robert Taylor's 1974 sequel, The Nine Lives Of Fritz The Cat, opens with Fritz (once again voiced by Skip Hinnant) on the couch in his rundown New York City apartment. His wife (voiced by Reva Rose) is breastfeeding their baby, Ralphie, and asking Fritz if he's got an update on their welfare situation and hounding him to get a job. Fritz, however, just wants to get laid. When that doesn't happen, he lights up a joint and escapes into a dreamland of his own making.
Properly stoned, Fritz meets up with a Puerto Rican named Juan. When he winds up at Juan's place he lights up a joint and gets Juan's sister, Chita, stoned. They have sex but her father walks in on them and shoots Fritz with a shotgun. In the next vignette, Fritz gets to spend some time with a man who claims he's God but who is in reality just a wino. From there, Fritz travels back to WWII where he gets busted having a threesome with two German girls, the wife and daughter of the Nazi officer who catches him. Fritz goes on the lam and winds up, through some weird twists, playing shrink to none other than Der Furher himself. It doesn't end well. After that, we're back in New York in the current day where Fritz gets into it with the liquor store owner when it comes out that Fritz gave his wife the clap. This leads into a trippy sequence made up of animation and stock footage that shows Fritz essentially falling from whatever status he may have had. From here, Fritz tries to cash his welfare check at the local pawn shop which results in Fritz getting an astronaut's helmet that leads into the next segment where Fritz is hired by NASA to travel to Mars. Fritz has sex with a black reporter and then the shuttle blows up. From there, Fritz meets the ghost of his friend Duke. New Jersey has been turned into 'New Africa' and is now home to all of the black 'crows.' When the President asks Fritz to make a delivery to New Africa, he obliges and is blamed for an assassination attempt on the President of New Africa. In Fritz's ninth and final life, he winds up in a New York City sewer where he meets a Guru and the Devil himself.
Racially charged and intentionally offensive, The Nine Lives Of Fritz The Cat somehow lacks the gritty, freewheeling charm of the first film, opting instead to send the titular feline on a pot-fueled journey through time and space. Famously disowned by creator Fritz's creator Robert Crumb, the movie is a hodgepodge of ideas, a lot of which don't really provide any of the humor or social commentary that was omnipresent in Crumb's strips and, to a lesser extent, Bakshi's earlier animated adaptation. There are some gags that work, sure, but there are just as many that don't and the result is pretty uneven. To his credit, Robert Taylor does manage to keep the pace quick and things moving along at a good clip, but more often than not the humor isn't so much clever as it is crass (we get plenty of fart jokes and a gag with a used condom alongside all of the plentiful sex and nudity that you'd expect if you're familiar with the property).
The animation style is close enough to the type employed in Bakshi's film to work and it has an appropriately gritty look and a very exaggerated feel that keeps the visuals interesting. The movie also has a pretty great soundtrack, moving along nicely to some interesting soul and funk choices that really help to bring the overall experience to life. It's just a shame that the script wasn't better, as this feels very much like a thrown together piece. It isn't a complete disaster, but it can't hold a candle to the original film.
The Nine Lives Of Fritz The Cat arrives on Region A Blu-ray from Kino in AVC encoded 1080p high definition framed at 1.85.1 widescreen, the seventy-six minute feature taking up 19.2GBs of space on the 25GB disc. There's a little bit of visible print damage here and there but it's all minor stuff, just small white specks. Colors look great, black levels are pretty deep and detail is generally pretty strong as well. There are no problems with any noticeable compression problems and the picture is free of any obvious edge enhancement or noise reduction issues.
A 24-bit English language DTS-HD option is provided in 2.0 Mono format with subtitles offered up in English only. No complaints here, the audio on the disc sounds great, even if it's a bit limited by the single channel mix. The score has good strength and presence to it, while the dialogue stays clean and clear. The levels are nicely balanced and there are no problems with any hiss, distortion or sibilance.
The disc includes trailers The Nine Lives Of Fritz The Cat, Fritz The Cat, Blazing Magnum, A Small Town In Texas and The Little Girl Who Lives Down The Lane as well as menus and chapter selection options.
The Nine Lives Of Fritz The Cat is an inferior and uneven sequel that fans of the property will appreciate, even if it isn't nearly as good as the first movie, thanks to some decent animation style, a great soundtrack and a few moments that do work fairly well. Scorpion Releasing's Blu-ray is light on extras but it does offer a nice presentation of the feature. Recommended for established fans of the film, the curious might want to rent it first.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.