"Where is it all going, where is it all going?"
"Its animation—but it's not a cartoon. It's funny—but it's not a comedy—its Heavy. Heavy Traffic."Ralph Bakshi
—Tagline in the films trailer
cites Heavy Traffic
as his favorite film in his career. This was originally to be Ralph's first film; however, it was "put on hold"
because the producer believed that he couldn't sell this film due to Bakshi's inexperience as a film director; the success of Fritz the Cat
, the first animated film to be rated X
in the United States, saved the production
of Heavy Traffic
This film provides examples of the following:
- Animated Music Video: Although only in one segment, Chuck Berry's "Maybellene" is played while in the style of Underground Comics and the design sense is a homage to Otto Messmer.
- Art Shift: Only happens two times. The scenes that go into underground comic book form, and the live-action at the ending climax of the film.
- Ax-Crazy: Michael's mother
- Black Best Friend: Subverted; Carol is Michael's girlfriend.
- Black Comedy
- Cool Car: The Godfather has one of these.
- Creepy Crossdresser: Snowflake.
- Deadpan Snarker: Michael
- Death by Cameo: A caricature of Ralph gets killed off by Michael during a racket in the movie.
- Fictional Pinball Game: Michael repeatedly plays a pinball game throughout the movie, in a metaphor for the randomness of existence.
- Gayngster: Snowflake and his brothers.
- Meaningful Name: The title of the film; the "Heavy" is the dilemmas of life, and the "Traffic" is the people who experience it.
- Nighthawks Shot : The painting is briefly seen in the background during a scene.
- Roger Rabbit Effect: Some of the scenes in this movie have animated characters over live-action backgrounds; a part has human girls in the backgrounds.
- Shout-Out: The loosely drawn comic art seen in parts of the film (notably the "Maybellene" segment) is an homage to the art style of pioneering cartoonist Otto Messmer.
- Symbolism: The recurring pinball machine Micheal plays is meant to be symbolic of fate and peoples place in the universe, per word of Ralph; that once you step outside, anything can happen, and the only influence you have over the universe is the flippers. Sometimes you make it big and get the high score, other times you have to put another quarter in.
- Take That: Ralph Bakshi really dislikes The Mafia, and the film The Godfather. Which is why the Mafia is really portrayed negatively in this and Coonskin.
- Underground Comics: Michael is an underground cartoonist.