American Pop (Ralph Bakshi) 1981

American Pop follows four generations of a family that are all involved with music from classical piano to 70’s rock.  This sounds great on paper and it is a noble effort on Bakshi’s part however I feel the overall product is flawed.  While many bash Bakshi’s almost complete use of rotoscoping I find it the unique signature of his films and I like the look of it.  The music, while some of it stock (by that I mean can we do one movie of the Vietnam War era without playing Hendrix), is the main reason to watch this movie.  No, my main problem is with the weak writing and the multi-generational story.  Simply put, its not nearly as interesting and compelling as Bakshi wants it to be.  The first family member we meet of Zelmie is probably the most compelling character and the one we feel for the most.  The other members we follow we either don’t get any real story from or in the case of Tony the most loathsome character.  Seriously, are we supposed to care about this drug addicted whiny b*tch?  I almost think the movie could have worked better as a series of vingnettes tied together with musical performances.  Kind of like Slacker.  You have many short stories with unrelated characters but the overall theme of pop in America and a love of music.  It is less constrictive writing for that then tying together a four generation story of family tragedy.  As I said, American Pop is a mixed bag.  I like the animation and the musical scenes but the family plot tying it all together is not that interesting.  I got a few more Bakshi movies coming so expect some more reviews.


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