: : : American Pop

Story

Animator-director-screenwriter Ralph Bakshi audaciously tries to chronicle the history of 20th-century American popular music, while also placing each period into historical and social context--all in 97 minutes! Its animated, episodic narrative follows four generations of Jewish-American musicians as each painfully seeks fame through changing musical eras. Starting at the turn of the century with a piano-playing immigrant in New York, the film moves swiftly, following his offspring through such movements as Gershwin-era pop, jazz, folk music, '60s psychedelia, and punk--and only pauses for elaborate, energized musical numbers designed to showcase the work of Benny Goodman, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Lou Reed, the Jefferson Airplane, and numerous others. However, these electric set pieces provide brief dynamism in a relatively bleak film filled with hard-luck protagonists suffering through clichéd drug addiction, death, and alienation. While the film's scope is admirably ambitious, and Bakshi's stylized use of rotoscoping (tracing animation from live action) makes for fluid and often eye-popping visuals, his treatment also feels heavy handed and cuts numerous corners. And, when Baskshi ends his epic by mocking punk, and celebrating the future of rock & roll through the music of Bob Seger, one wonders whether or not he a knowledgeable grasp of his topic at all. The DVD version presents the film in its original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1. --Dave McCoy

DVD Features

  • Color
  • Closed-captioned
  • Dolby
  • Widescreen
  • Animated

Cast

Ron ThompsonTony/Pete
Mews SmallFrankie
Lisa Jane PerskyBella
Frank DeKovaCrisco
Leonard StoneLeo Stern
Vincent SchiavelliTheatre Owner

  • Genre: Animated Movies
  • Director: Ralph Bakshi
  • Producer: Columbia/Tri-Star
  • Length: 95 min
  • Aspect ratio: 1.85:1
  • Theatrical Release
    North AmericaFeb 13, 1981
  • Ratings
    North AmericaR
    Europe15
  • DVD Release
    North AmericaJun 16, 1998
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