American Pop (1981) - Rotten Tomatoes

American Pop (1981)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

American Pop Trailers & Photos

Movie Info

The rise and growth of American popular music through the 20th century is reflected in the lives of four generations of one family in this animated drama directed by Ralph Bakshi. Zalmie (voice of Jeffrey Lippa), a Russian Jew, emigrates to America, and tries to struggle along as a comic and musician in vaudeville, until an injury suffered in World War I ends his singing career. Zalmie's son Benny (voice of Richard Singer) inherits his father's love for music, and when he grows to adulthood, he joins a jazz combo as a pianist; his career is cut short, however, when he's killed while fighting in World War II. Benny's son Tony (voice of Ron Thompson) is also bitten by the music bug and is determined to make his mark as a songwriter; he becomes involved in the Beat poetry and music community in San Francisco, and later falls in with a pioneering psychedelic band. Along the way, Tony fathers an illegitimate son named Pete (voice of Eric Taslitz), and ends up becoming Pete's guardian in New York City without realizing he's the boy's father. After Tony's death, Pete supports himself by dealing drugs, while struggling to make his dream of becoming a rock star a reality. Ralph Bakshi achieved American Pop's unique look through a process called "rotoscoping" -- shooting the scenes with live actors, and then tracing their movements onto animation cells.more
Rating: R
Genre: Drama, Animation, Musical & Performing Arts
Directed By:
Written By: Ronni Kern, Ralph Bakshi
In Theaters:
On DVD: Jun 19, 1998
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment


Beatrice Cohen
as Prostitute
Ben Frommer
as Nicky Palumbo
Roz Kelly
as Eva Tanguay
Ron Thompson
as Tony/Pete
Marya Small
as Frankie
Elsa Raven
as Hannele
Joey Camen
as Freddie
Eric Taslitz
as Little Pete
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for American Pop

Critic Reviews for American Pop

All Critics (19) | Top Critics (2)

Full Review… | August 30, 2004
New York Times
Top Critic

May 30, 2001
AV Club
Top Critic

This is a film that grandly overreaches, attempting to condense a century's worth of triumph and tragedy into ninety minutes. To a surprising degree it succeeds.

Full Review… | July 18, 2012

Has a wonderful soundtrack, but it fails to provide an actual story unless you look hard...

Full Review… | September 3, 2008
Cinema Crazed

A sprawling and messy work whose flaws are inextricable from its brilliance.

Full Review… | July 23, 2007

Although cartoonish in the most pejorative sense, American Pop knows its musical lore. This film has little bits of tragedy that just may break your heart.

July 14, 2004

Audience Reviews for American Pop


This movie is just a retrospective on American music in cartoon form, I've always wondered why Bakshi made this movie. It's boring and uninteresting.

Aj V

Super Reviewer


In an hour and a half American Pop covers a stunning amount of territory. both thematically and narratively. This might be the most polished animation in a Bakshi film, with a fantastic soundtrack and vibrant style.

Mike T.

Super Reviewer


I really liked this film. I found it interesting and the music is fantastic to listen to.

Marion Ravenwood

Super Reviewer

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