Picks and Pans Review: Hey Good Lookin'
Whenever Ralph Bakshi reaches into his bag of animated tricks, the result is definitely not greasy kid stuff. This exercise was practically finished in 1975, but Bakshi didn't think the public was ready for it then and kept it in the can until now. The story is set in Brooklyn circa 1953, where life is depicted as a war in which most of the characters admit defeat at the outset. Rival street gangs and trigger-happy cops victimize society, and vice versa. Trying to rise above all the tension and hostility is a greaser—the voice of Richard (Mean Streets) Romanus—who attempts to maintain his macho image even when all his bluffs begin to be called. He's got a sidekick named "Crazy" Shapiro, a born follower who all too often holds true to his nickname. While they face up to a variety of teenage sex problems and a big rumble, Bakshi offers insightful though exaggerated character studies, biting sarcasm and jet black humor. As it was in 1981's American Pop, his animation here is impressively slick, and its blending of drawings with background photographs is quite often dazzling. Unfortunately, like 1973's Heavy Traffic, this film is an unrelieved composite of anger and desperation. Bakshi grindingly portrays life as a vulgar, violent maze of dead-end streets. Bambi, it ain't. (R)
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