Michael, a young artist who lives with his neurotic mother and two-timing father, escapes the absurd and often ugly side of life on New York's tough streets by satirizing its rich yet wacky characters in wildly entertaining cartoons. From the gruff homeless and wisecracking prostitutes to gun-toting gangsters and corrupt cops, Michael's world becomes an outlandish kaleidoscope of shocking images and horrifying events that are either a testament of his wild imagination or a reminder of the strangeness of reality.
is writer-director Ralph Bakshi's follow-up to Fritz the Cat
, so if you're looking for a little something to watch with the kids, you might want to search elsewhere. It's an odd little movie, one that seems to both condemn and celebrate depravity at the same time. The hero is Michael, an artist who still lives with his battling parents. Michael is far too sensitive for the cruel city, though he sure seems to draw an awful lot of pictures of it. Michael hooks up with cool bartender Carole and the two of them set off to... well, they plan to do something
. More engaging than the story are Bakshi's visual techniques, which include blending animated and live-action sequences and layering old film clips into cartoon backgrounds. Though interesting as a piece of animation, Heavy Traffic
is difficult to recommend. There is a running thread of misogyny that makes the film off-putting, to say the least. Yes, all
of the characters are unpleasant and yes, most of the violence is over-the-top enough to make a case for it being comic. It is the constant, casual misogyny that's unsettling--at one point Michael backhands Carole across the face and everyone, including Carole, seems to be fine with that. Keep an ear out for Jamie Farr and watch it for the animation, not the plot. --Ali Davis
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.