The storyline is the BLOODLINE of Jewish immigrants, from Czarist Russia, through the DEVO counterculture. The mores of the time are depicted in the generational 'hiccups.' Upon first viewing, this is an obtuse, roadblock. The movie seems to start/stop, and introduce new characters.
The rotocoped performances by Roz Kelly, and others, along with permission from BOB SEGAR to use his actual voice...[did anyone really notice when, SOMEBODY TO LOVE by Jefferson Airplane, was a COVER?]for a fictional character. Bob Dylan, having allowed the fictional character to "WRITE" a hit or two of his, is ANOTHER PLUS.
The Music of AMERICAN POP, is well, broad, and somewhat comprehensive. From the popular, for its day, Maple Leaf Rag, to the popular, at the time the movie was released, Night Moves, sweeps along, period by period, as the absentee/rogue/and scoundrel fathers do their best, for the times...THEY live in. All with a musical talent. From a CANTOR, in Russia, through vaudeville, WW II, Rebelious 50's, The BEAT Generation, the Flower POP of the '60s, the drug counter-culture, Hard Rock, and even PUNK. WHEW! IF you like a broad spectrum of music, LIKE I DO, Then The SCRAWNY SOUNDTRACK ALBUM [compared to the sweeping and VAST music, actually in the film.] is a bit of a let-down. Single LP? "C'mon, I'm Dyin' here!"
The heart-wrenching scene where a strung-out heroine freak, realizes he's just met his illegitimate son, and then is too weak to kick the habit...Though he really wishes he could, is more raw and edgy, than mainstream animation has NEVER before tackled.
My only disappointment on viewing/multiple viewing, is some registration errors in the original film, loused up a couple of parts. The overall animation is slow vintage, in the early part, 101 Dalmations-esque, in the Beat Generation section, and Wild and MOD, in the final section. [With EVERYTHING in between, I should add.]
THIS is almost an AUTOBIOGRAPHY of RALPH BAKSHI. [As much as PECKER, is an Autobiography of John Waters, anyway] He is of partial-Eastern Europe/Jewish descent, and is in a ART FORM, much like music. His early SPIDERMAN TV SERIES work, was 180-ed, when he then, released, the "X" rated [really!] FRITZ The CAT. I don't see Disney going THAT far, though I do find Disney's "Potty Humor, requirement, just plain 'DUMB BUSINESS.'
The REASON, I mention Disney, is that it was Surprising to see, ROY DISNEY's name drift up the credits. [Ya, gotta remember, Don BLUTH, long-time Disney animator, defected, and created LAND BEFORE TIME, and SECRET OF NIHM, about this period, to appreciate ROY DISNEY's position.]
A fun little cameo of RICHARD (Night Court) MOLL as the tortured beat poet [doing an Allen Ginsberg piece,] is both true to the times, and another turning point where the WORDS are flip-flopped with TUNES as the important talent.
The GENES of a RABBI-Cantor singer, a songwriter, a piano player, a hippy lyricist, all combine to the WRITER/PERFORMER artist of the final STADIUM ROCK performance, finding the stardom...each of the previous 'POPs' had hoped their son could attain.
Bless you, Ralph.