American Pop (1981) - Rotten Tomatoes

American Pop (1981)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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.

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Hilary Beane
as Showgirl #1
Beatrice Cohen
as Prostitute
Ben Frommer
as Nicky Palumbo
Roz Kelly
as Eva Tanguay
Ron Thompson
as Tony/Pete
Marya Small
as Frankie
Joey Camen
as Freddie
Elsa Raven
as Hannele
Eric Taslitz
as Little Pete
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Critic Reviews for American Pop

All Critics (18)

Although the plot, like the music itself, can be somewhat too strident, the animation is remarkably successful in delineating the sad geography of the human body and the massive backgrounds of American cities.

March 27, 2018 | Full Review…

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.

July 18, 2012 | Rating: 62/100 | Full Review…

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

September 3, 2008 | Rating: 2.5/4 | Full Review…

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

July 23, 2007 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…

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 | Rating: 2.5/5

American Pop celebrates the vitality of music which seems to weather all changes and continues to serve as a vehicle for our hopes and dreams.

January 31, 2004 | Full Review…

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
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.
Mike T.

Super Reviewer


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

Marion Ravenwood
Marion Ravenwood

Super Reviewer

American Pop Quotes

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