American Pop (1981)
July 28, 2023 9:06 AM - Subscribe

[TRAILER] The history of American popular music runs parallel with the history of a Russian Jewish immigrant family, with each male descendant possessing different musical abilities.

Streaming with ads on multiple channels in the US; also available to rent or purchase on multiple platforms (JustWatch link).

63% Fresh at Rotten Tomatoes, but the critic score doesn't really speak to American Pop's audience popularity (80% popular with over 5000 viewer reviews).
posted by hanov3r (8 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I remember watching this movie and being really impressed, with that being blunted a bit at the end as Bob Seger's "Night Moves" is presented as the apotheosis of American pop music.

Still a fan, even though I normally despise rotoscoped stuff.

It does seem to me now though, a bit older and wiser, that if a person was going to survey the expanse of American pop music by tracking a single apocryphal family... that family probably ought to be Black.

Hard to speak ill of anything with this much affection for pop and this much ambition.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:20 AM on July 28, 2023 [3 favorites]

Yeah, great movie that kind of faceplants the ending with "Night Moves."

They obviously wanted a Lou Reed or David Bowie track there. I assume there was some behind the scenes studio interference bullshit involved that we'll probably never know about.
posted by Naberius at 9:47 AM on July 28, 2023

I think that possibly Bob Seger music was all that they could afford or get permission for. There were similar issues with the Peter Bogdanovich movie Mask, WRT their using Seger music instead of Springsteen; a later cut of the film had the Boss' music restored.
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:56 AM on July 28, 2023 [1 favorite]

There was already a Lou Reed/Velvet Underground track on the soundtrack - "I'm Waiting for the Man". Music rights for the somewhat surprising collection of popular music in the film came out to less than a million USD because of Bakshi's reputation.

"Night Moves" fits the story as a description by Pete of what he knows about his mom and Tony.
posted by hanov3r at 10:06 AM on July 28, 2023

Bakshi is such a wild ride. His work just has such an individualized funk about it. Parts are good and parts are bad, I guess. The artistry is ambitious, but corners get cut in creative ways that don't always work.

For better or worse, the thing is you always know his hand in a thing right when you see it, and when you see it, you're seeing a world exactly the way an artist wanted to show it to you, which feels like a rarer experience than it otta be.
posted by Phobos the Space Potato at 1:23 PM on July 28, 2023 [2 favorites]

The Rotten Tomato fan critics are nobodies. I admire Bakshi‘s work but this isn’t remotely worthwhile.
posted by Ideefixe at 3:19 PM on July 28, 2023

I admire Bakshi‘s work but this isn’t remotely worthwhile.

I agree, this isn’t worth the trouble watching, unless you’re a Bakshi completist.

As for Bakshi himself...I dunno. I’ve just never been a fan. I feel like his work is wildly overrated. Lots of ambition, to be sure. But, over and over, his stuff is just...not very good. Everything is always so uneven and often so obviously shoestringed, but not in a way that works. I often think the love for his films has as much, if not more, to do with Bakshi’s much-admired rep for being some sort of anti-Disney auteur than it does with their actual quality.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:04 AM on July 29, 2023

Saw this in the theater with my dad who was a Bakshi fan. I remember loving it but even then I knew Night Moves was a weird choice.
posted by octothorpe at 6:49 PM on July 29, 2023

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