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  Nine Lives of Fritz the Cat, The Feline Groovy
Year: 1974
Director: Robert Taylor
Stars: Skip Hinnant, Reva Rose, Bob Holt, Louisa Moritz, Robert Ridgely, Jay Lawrence, Stanley Adams, Pat Harrington Jr, Glynn Turman, Felton Perry
Genre: Comedy, AnimatedBuy from Amazon
Rating:  3 (from 2 votes)
Review: It is now the nineteen-seventies and Fritz the Cat (voiced by Skip Hinnant) has left college with no job to go to, and has ended up with a wife (voiced by Reva Rose) and child while he spends his days living on welfare, smoking cannabis and looking to cheat on his spouse. Today she starts nagging him about getting a job, and continues to nag him for quite some time, but Fritz is in a world of his own, and while high he daydreams about the situation he would prefer to be in, one where he is walking down the street and meets a man who has an attractive sister, someone who would be interested in spending a little time with Fritz...

Fritz the Cat creator Robert Crumb was not even credited on this sequel to a film that he hated, a fact that he would probably be unwilling to protest about. Nine Lives is far more obscure than the first film, and was not directed by Ralph Bakshi, who wanted to move on to a different project, but a success is a success and director Robert Taylor, scripting with Fred Halliday and Eric Monte, was enlisted to make this cash-in. If Fritz the Cat was a send up of the right on sixties, then the follow up is about the jaded seventies, but the plot, such as it is, tends to wander around in era depending on where the main character's imagination takes him.

That plot seems more like it was scribbled down on the back of an envelope, but the animation is of similar standard to Bakshi's original. After being shot dead during his first reverie, Fritz's spirit returns to his body, then ventures back out onto the street to meet a down and out with an alcohol problem who claims to be God. After some slapstick, "God" ends up being squashed by a falling telegraph pole and the self-centred Fritz moves on. This is where the tale goes controversial, with the cat travelling back to Nazi Germany - as a Nazi who becomes Adolf Hitler's therapist, coaxing him to talk about his issues before being sexually assaulted by the dictator. The frequently naked Hitler only has one ball, incidentally.

Not laughing yet? Well, in truth the cat's first screen outing wasn't exactly hilarious either. One segment, a trip to the nineteen-thirties, sees a lot of stock footage with Fritz dancing and cane-twirling superimposed over it, which looks more like padding than anything else. In another, Fritz goes into space, but takes a woman along with him for company - he was supposed to be going to Mars, but never makes it that far. Reverting to controversy, a later sequence sees Fritz in the future and daring to enter the first all black state, formerly New Jersey, to deliver a message and finding violence and prejudice there - as he found in the White House, funnily enough. Weirdly, Nine Lives was the first animated film to be in competition at the Cannes Film Festival, although you'll be hard pressed to work out why as the humour is on the basic level of a counterculture magazine comic strip... but not one of R. Crumb's. Music by Tom Scott.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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