Rather than do the 'Fritz the Cat' sequel (he left that to lesser hands — trust me, I’ve seen it), Ralph Bakshi dove into an intensely personal, autobiographical piece.It's about a sexually frustrated young cartoonist living in Brooklyn with his viciously squabbling parents — a psychotic Jewish mother and a corrupt Italian dockworker father (who, to modern eyes, may resemble a cruder, stupider Homer Simpson, if such a thing is even possible).
Leaving funny animals and R. Crumb’s style behind, Bakshi reveals a vision much closer to Martin Scorsese (whose Mean Streets premiered the same year) than to Disney; amusingly, the young hero closely resembles the young Harvey Keitel. (The hero is also named Michael Corleone — Bakshi’s middle-finger salute to The Godfather, which he felt romanticized the Mafia.) Bakshi also inaugurates his technique of presenting us with stereotypes so blatantly over-the-top that they somehow land on the other side as vital, unique, richly funny human beings. Not only that, he uses live action backdrops — which, here as elsewhere in his work, sometimes adds to the canvas and sometimes distracts.For the most part, though, this is a zesty abstract-jazz riff of a film, hinting at much bigger ambitions to come.