Heavy Traffic

1973 cartoon for adults

Rating: 14/20

Plot: Michael Corleone (why does that name seem familiar?) lives in a too-tiny apartment in New York City with his parents. When he's not working on his pinball wizard skills, he spends his time huddled over a desk sketching the humans he's interacted with on the city streets, including his parents. He's an underground comic, and that's what they do. He befriends an African American prostitute.

I don't know. I definitely felt a little dirty after watching this. Heavy Traffic is the kind of cartoon you have to wash off yourself if you see it. I guess that's an appropriate feeling when you watch an X-rated cartoon though. This is Ralph Bakshi, the guy who did Fritz the Cat, those Lord of the Rings cartoons, and the terribly boring Wizards. It's more similar to the raunchiness of Fritz than the fantasy stuff though unless there's some scene in Lord of the Rings where Frodo exposes himself to a goblin that I'm forgetting about. It really makes Bakshi seem misanthropic. He draws all these oddly-proportioned grotesque exaggerations of pimps, hookers, bums, and con artists. It's those seedy characters you can't really find in a metropolitan area unless you find a rock and flip it over. The animation style's straight from the unsavory 1970s for the most part, characters who move around like they're a member of Fat Albert's posse or are on their way to sing a School House Rocks type song instructing children on how to dispose of a prostitute's corpse, how to know when you're a dope fiend, or where to hide your pornography. There's also a fair amount of experimentation with a mix of live action and the animation. Seeing Bakshi's completely unnatural characters walking against photographs of the city streets does look pretty cool actually, and I liked some of that 70's funkadelica when the animator's shapes and colors go completely nuts. This is a little uneven and wears out its welcome before its seventy-six minutes or so are up, but it's not a bad little cult cartoon flick.

No comments: