Now, Hey Good Lookin’ just seems like piece out of time. Although the most recent Indiana Jones featured greasers this is at the other end of the spectrum. This movie is full of racial tension and sexual frustration. It’s a love story, an us vs. them story, and above all it’s a coming of age story about finding your way.
The first scene is of a garbage can talking to some trash.
“What’s wrong with you, ain’t you a believer?” -Trash.
“I used to be but I don’t know anymore, you can’t be too careful what you believe in nowadays.” -Garbage.
“Always a cynic charlie, you gotta believe you gotta believe.” -Trash.
[A garbage truck comes and takes the trash away]
“Goodbye Charlie, goodbye, [explitive] this city” -Trash.
This conversation still holds true today. You can’t be too careful what you believe. With information, truthful and otherwise, being flung about at cosmic speeds on the internet, you just can’t be too careful.
Our narrator, an old man, meets a girl in the ally… He shows her a remnants of a black leather jacket and starts our story.
“Now when we was younga you had to dress real cool… Black motorcycle jacket, tight Levis, pointed shoes, oohh… and you had to have the best hair in the whole neighborhood, hair, see now, that was really important, hair counts you know.”
I guess to a point, this has come full circle. People today care as much about their looks as people did in the 50’s although, honestly I prefer the fashions from back then.
Next we see Vinnie fixing his hair and the narrator soon introduces us to his best friend Crazy Shapiro. Crazy comes home to find his stuff on the street and Solly, his father the cop shoots at him. It seems home life isn’t so good for Crazy, but he’s a Stomper. So he’s off to be with the others in his gang.
The Stompers are hanging out on a basketball court, making out and talking gossip. Vinnie and Crazy are talking about feelings and fighting. Vinnie attempts to teach Crazy to fight bt to no avail. We meet Rozzie after she disrespects Vinnie and punches him in the balls. Rozzie’s father shows up. Eventually getting her to leave, she’s not going fast enough for him so he takes his belt of and hits her in the butt. His pants fall down and it’s a gas to all, but today, not even a father can strike his own child, it’s a very different world.
“I was in love cause Roz let me touch her tits,” Vinnie says, dressed in his best and standing outside Shwartz’ Cafe waiting for Roz to walk past. Crazy comes by and tries to figure out why he’s dressed up and he figures out it’s Roz and goes, well, crazy. Vinnie losses it and hits Crazy. “What’d you hit me for, I just figured out why you were here,” like I said before it was a different time.The scene pans up to Rozzie’s bedroom, where she is gagged and shackled to her bed yelling through a cloth, tied around her mouth by her father, that they weren’t doing anything. Vinnie decides to split, he and Crazy steal a car and Roz who saw him waiting and sees him leave, is scene trying to follow them up the street, still gagged and dragging the bed she’s still attached too, mumbling that she loves him. Apparently this love is a two way street. After all, she did let Vinnie touch her tits.
Smoking, stealing, dancing, drinking, general mischief, then just playin pool and talking about love, that’s what Vinnie and Crazy are up to. Saying if she loves him she gotta prove it. Crazy wants to know what. “Blowjob” is Vinnie’s response. Again, if you were expecting a children’s cartoon, you are misplaced.
To the bar to pick up chicks, Vinnie takes the lead as he’s the teacher. His pickup is quite the show and he introduces Crazy who’s still across the bar. One girl asks why they call him crazy, and we learn that it’s because Crazy has three balls. Back to their place, where they find out the girls are hookers and Crazy doesn’t care, then down to the boardwalk to sleep off the booze.Crazy wakes up first and goes nuts seeing the Sicilians and more specifically their women getting undressed on the beach. Unable to be controlled Crazy gets caught and a fight between he and the Sicilians ensues. Vinnie runs away and gets caught on the beach with Mr. Boogaloo Jones, leader of the Chaplains. And if the the leader of the Stompers is on black beach he must be there on official business. Vinnie is unclear as to what this official business is, but he knows it’s why he’s not getting pummeled. Boogaloo tells him that official business means a rumble and Vinnie needs to tell him the time and the place and the weapons and if he don’t wanna rumble he’ll have to take them all on by himself.
Meanwhile, Roz and Eva on the beach. They both freak out when they see Vinnie, but he was in his head about the rumble and walked past Roz in a two piece bikini. But he notices eventually and then starts singing, he just can’t really keep it together around her, but he does pull it together and they make out. Eva making sandwiches the whole time and Vinnie trying to feel her boob and Rzs denying him after he gets there a few times.They walk back to the boardwalk, where Crazy has dispensed with all of the Sicilians! Vinnie and Crazy are gonna be famous. They go to a Stompers’ party, were Vinnie’s gonna ask the Stompers about the rumble. At the party there is dancing, bra stuffing and making out. He calls for the rumble and the Stompers call “bullshit on the rumble.” He goes into the bathroom where Eva is again making sandwiches. Crazy comes in and they argue, because Crazy wants to rumble.
Eva has one of the best lines in the movie watching them argue. “Here I am right in the middle of it, defiant youth in action.” The animation, the art, and the music of most Bakshi films is impeccable, but you can’t forget about the writing. There are lines like this throughout all of Bakshi’s filmography.
Together Vinnie and Crazy decide, if they have to, they’ll go it alone and rumble the Chaplains.
On the way to a rock show we learn that there are some who question Vinnie’s leadership of the Stompers, but at the show we learn that he still has some fans. Meanwhile, one of the Stompers driving to the show, gets in a car chase with Boogaloo that is more of a demolition derby than race. The Stomper eventually crashes through the stage of the rock show. After the crash Vinnie does his best inspirational speech… There’s gonna be a rumble! Although not because of him.The boys chill in their car making it with their women. When Roz looks up and sees some Chaplains the playtime is over, and they chase after them. Crazy shoots them both, seems the Chaplains brought a chain to a gun fight! Off they go and we see the Chaplains being visited by the cops… Boogaloo tells the cops that Chaplains don’t waste their bullets on other Chaplains, they waste their bullets on Stompers. .
The next scene tells us a lot about Rozzie. She and Crazy are having a heart to heart about Crazy being the leader of the Stompers now that Vinnie is leaving town. So of course they sleep together. It’s not apparent at any point other than this as to whether Roz really loves Vinnie or if she’s just crazy about whoever happens to be the leader of the Stompers. But their sincere moment is interrupted as Crazy’s Pop the cop shows up to beat answers out of Crazy as to who shot the two Chaplains. After getting the hell beat out of him, Crazy finks on Vinnie. (As an aside to people still understand the word “fink” anymore? It does actually have a definition of “to inform to the police; squeal,” so I’m using it in the right frame of mind.)Vinnie’s packing up his stuff and leaving town but he runs into the other Stompers and plays it cool. The Chaplains show up without Boogaloo and Vinnie isn’t having any of it. He doesn’t want to rumble without Bogaloo, but there’s gonna be a rumble and he can’t stop it. That is until Crazy’s Pop shows up and halts the proceedings. Before he can ask anything of Vinnie about the murders, Crazy dressed like a superhero starts shooting down from the rooftop and a shootout ensues. This scene is indicative of what happens in a tense environment, it doesn’t matter who fires the first shot or why, once it’s started there’s no way to get the toothpaste back in the tube.
The gunfight at street level is only part of what’s going on, Crazy is battling his internal demons stemming from turning on Vinnie and then it gets ridiculous. Vinnie eventually gets out, but I won’t tell you how, the point is he does. This is by no means the end of the movie, but you’ll have to watch it to see how it ends.
The song, “Playin to Win,” plays as a narrative over a some of the movies resolution. It is part of a stellar soundtrack. Bakshi never seems to shy away from making sure that the quality of the music is just as great as the artistic animation put on the screen.
At it’s heart there is a love story in there, albeit not as classic as Romeo and Juliet or any of the romantic comedies now being spewed forth by big production companies but still it’s there. Is it Romeo and Juliet? Is it American Graffiti? No. But it is a classic of American cinematic storytelling with a great soundtrack and tremendous animation.It teaches us to be who we are and you really can’t ask any more than that from any film. It still has a classic story that everyone can follow. It has great lines like, “if you turn a woman upside down they all look alike…”
Although the 1950’s are gone, as are the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s, there are still plenty of lessons to be learned from the media of their respective times. As an animated feature there are plenty of things Bakshi could do with this movie that you can’t do with normal live action. This just serves as a better way for Bakshi to get his points across.
Is there a lot of violence? Sure, but not more than you’ll find in the average first person shooter of today. Is there a breast fixation? Sure, but this IS animation. For those interested in the music, I reiterate again that John Madara and Ric Sandler put together one amazing soundtrack.
Overall it is Bakshi animation as you’ve come to expect it and it’s as irreverent as the rest. However, the story of its production, post production and release are just as interesting as the movie, but that’s for another time, as it is tied to my a future Rotospective piece Coonskin.