Wednesday, March 16, 2011

American Pop (1981)

Sony has been digging around its vaults and putting some treasures online, uncut even. And while I'm not a huge fan of American Pop it does have it's moments. The rotoscoping reminds me of Linklater's A Scanner Darkly. The story, covering generations through American history, is very much like Coppola's Godfather. The same year Disney would release The Fox and The Hound, which should give you a rough idea of where animation was at the time. Bakshi's last animated feature had been Lord of the Rings, which had had some mild success. There had been some expectation of more Tolkenesque movies and that certainly wasn't what American Pop delivered.

I do remember seeing American Pop on the VHS rental shelves back when I worked at the video store. And I recall it didn't get a lot of rentals. I know my first viewing didn't connect. I was a kid and American Pop bored me, which makes sense. American Pop is very much a movie aimed at an adult audience. Bakshi doesn't aim low here. He's not interested in holding your hand, even at the risk of losing you. If I can point to a problem with the movie I'd have to say it's the lead characters. By the time we get to the 70s and Pete the dope pusher I'm pretty much checked out. I just don't care if Pete gets that record contract. He's just not a likable guy and I can't find anything besides the music to relate to the guy. Or maybe that's the point.

Question. Do animation fans like this movie?


Dr. Mila said...

I watched it on the Yube and stopped caring by the 50s. Tony takes up too much of the film.

This is usually the problem I have with Bakshi's films: I don't feel like making any kind of emotional investment in any of those people.

I do like the backgrounds, however. That was some nice work.

Tohoscope said...

Some wonderful backgrounds. Nice watercolours in this movie. the opening credits have some great drawings, too.

Bakshi's characters don't really go through any change. They keep doing the same crap and don't really evolve into better people. But that's the kind of movie he wants to make, I guess. They're like cartoon shorts. Bugs Bunny is the same asshole at the end of the cartoon as he was in the beginning. Only a bunch of gags has marked the passing of time.

Anonymous said...

I've got this one on VHS and will eventually pick up the DVD.

It's a bit loose with its pastiche of distinct pop-cultural eras at times, but is otherwise a very compelling and cohesive piece of storytelling.

They just don't make 'em like this anymore...


Chris Sobieniak said...

Still haven't seen it myself, but I'll keep that in mind in case I do fall out of favor by the middle or end of the film.