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Western Animation / The Nine Lives of Fritz the Cat

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The movie Fritz the Cat, an adaptation of a popular character created by underground cartoonist Robert Crumb was really successful, both commercially and critically, even though it had quite a lot of things going against it, including a first-time film director, Crumb himself hating the adaptation to the point where he retired the character soon afterwards, and the fact that it was given an X rating by the MPAA. The film's producer, Steve Krantz, decided to produce a sequel. However, since original director Ralph Bakshi wanted nothing to do with this sequel, directorial duties were given to Robert Taylor, an animator who was working on some of Bakshi's other films.

The results, as you might have gathered, might be mixed. This one doesn't have as much of a coherent storyline as the first, instead taking a kind of Anthology Film approach in which the title character is killed off in various different ways, in what is probably a reference to the comic strip, in which he was given an icepick to the back of the head by a psychotic ex-girlfriend.note  Whether this actually works or not can be left in the eye of the beholder, but most viewers agree that the music score by Tom Scott & The L.A. Express is pretty badass. Also, it was the first animated movie to compete in the Cannes Film Festival.

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Tropes:

  • All Just a Dream: It's implied that none of the stories actually happen, since Fritz is stoned throughout the entire movie and seems to be imagining everything that occurs.
  • All Men Are Perverts: Fritz is still as horny as usual, although this movie focusses far less on sex than his other appearances.
  • Alternate History: One of Fritz's daydreams involves New Jersey becoming "New Africa", with a population entirely of black people.
  • Back from the Dead: The film reverts the Crumb story "Fritz the Cat, Superstar" by having Fritz have "nine lives", resulting in a film mostly consisting of events where, someway or another, Fritz dies. (Crumb never drew another Fritz story following "Superstar".)
  • Bald, Black Leader Guy: The president of New Africa.
  • Barbie Doll Anatomy: Fritz has no genitals for most of the movie.
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  • Barefoot Cartoon Animal: Plenty of animal characters are barefoot, though some wear boots (most notably Vishnu near the end).
  • The Cameo: Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger appear.
  • Canon Discontinuity: Robert Crumb doesn't even acknowledge the existence of this movie, except in the documentary The Confessions of Robert Crumb.
    Ralph Bakshi: He didn’t bother to discuss the Nine Live of Fritz the Cat. He would have to say, 'well, Ralph did do a better picture than Nine Lives.' So to Robert Crumb, there is no Nine Lives. It doesn’t exist. The only Fritz the Cat he’s mad at is the one I did, because if he discussed Nine Lives, he’d have to say, 'well, you know, for all of my bullshitting about Ralph, Nine Lives is even worse than what he did.'
  • Cats Have Nine Lives: The film uses this trope as a framing device, showing how each of those lives ended.
  • Covers Always Lie: The poster features an orange cat and a tall mouse like woman, neither of whom appear in the film.
  • Disney Acid Sequence: When Fritz and Chita get high.
  • Fantastic Racism/Space Jews: As in the first film, Crows stand in for African-Americans.
  • Flaming Devil: Fritz ends up in hell. Upon encountering the devil, who seems like a cross between Big Gay Al and Vincent Price, he lets out, "Oh, Jesus Christ, Lucifer is a faggot!"
  • Flipping the Bird: Fritz does this to a telephone after the operator hangs up on him. He is one of the few four-fingered characters that can do this.
  • Funny Animal: The entire cast. Strangely enough, there is an entire sequence devoted to stock footage of real-life humans.
  • Furry Confusion: There are normal rats and anthropomorphic rats in the movie.
  • Framing Device: Fritz smoking pot to ignore his screaming wife while neglecting their child.
  • Lighter and Softer: Very slightly. This was rated R while the original was rated X.
  • Mature Animal Story: The characters are anthropomorphic animals and there is loads of sex and violence.
  • Mind Screw: Nine Lives is this trope the whole way through.
  • No Swastikas: Averted. Fritz's fantasy as a Nazi does not censor the Swastikas.
  • Protagonist-Centered Morality: Fritz, a lovable cartoon cat, neglects his wife and son to smoke pot and imagines himself as a member of the Nazi party during World War II, and refers to black girls as knowing "where it's at by the time they're 11". Wait, what?
  • The Pornomancer: Fritz as usual, though not to the extent of his other appearances. Averted as its all drug induced illusions and the sex he gets into are just hallucinations.
  • Reset Button: In 1972, in response to the politics of the animated film, Robert Crumb kills off Fritz. Two years later, Steve Krantz produces this movie.
  • Schrödinger's Cat: Literally! Crumb killed Fritz off in the comics after the first movie, but this film was made nevertheless. But for truths sake, let's call this movie the final coffin to Fritz and a sort of a prequel to his death.
  • Spiritual Successor: Garfield: His 9 Lives. You read that right.
  • Vocal Evolution: Fritz's voice is slightly deeper and less nasally than it was in the first film.
  • The Stoner: Fritz is stoned throughout the framing device, until he gets kicked out by his wife. The rest of the movie consists of his drug addled fantasies about his prior lives.
  • They Killed Kenny Again: Fritz dies multiple times during the movie.
  • Underground Comics: This movie as well as the previous one are based on the Fritz the Cat underground comics.
  • World of Funny Animals: All characters are animals, with the exception of some live action footage.

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