I’ll be honest from the outset: I do not enjoy the films of Ralph Bakshi. American Pop is nothing more than an excuse for music lovers to bathe in nostalgia, and doesn’t feature a single memorable character. Bakshi’s adaptation of The Lord of the Rings is even worse, with nap-inducing battle sequences and a story so jumbled and incoherent you might as well break out the bong and enjoy it for the pretty colors. In fact, this is what I assume all viewers of Bakshi’s films are meant to do, since his movies cannot be enjoyed on any sort of lucid level. Seeing as how I’m not at all a drug user, maybe I’m simply not destined to “get” the works of Ralph Bakshi, but I’m going to criticize one right here and now. Today’s subject is Wizards, and good gravy is it awful.

First, let’s participate in a quick exercise in non-creative thinking. I want you to come up with the single most obvious premise for a fantasy script you can think of, filled with stock characters, motivations, and conflict. Congratulations, you’ve just written 95% of Bakshi’s script for Wizards, where good, peaceful characters live in a good, peaceful world (I don’t remember its name, but it might as well be called Utopia) and the evil, nasty, just plain rotten ones live in their respectively icky land. As I’m sure you’d imagine, these two factions don’t get along, so eventually a war breaks out. Now only an elderly wizard and his band of trusty sidekicks are the only ones who can blah-biddy-blah-blah, you get the picture.

Ah, but wait! This only accounts for 95% of the script. The rest of those precious points of percentage are reserved for “mature” content. And this is real gritty, cool as hell stuff, people. Seriously, I don’t think some of you can handle how tough and raw Wizards can get, since it’s positively X-rated in its adult flavoring. Hope you’re not squeamish when it comes to cursing, because there are some downright naughty words being thrown around during this film. If you can withstand the language, there are also some really gory fight scenes. We’re talkin’ elves gettin’ gored by arrows and people takin’ bullets to the head, man. It’s totally wicked and sick and stuff. Do ya like sexy ladies? There’s a sexy cartoon lady here with cartoon nipples, dude. Seriously, like, she has nipples and everything. Finally, you won’t believe what Blackwolf, the main villain in Wizards, plans to use against his opponents. Are you ready for this? Old Nazi propaganda films! It’s like this giant allegory for war and politics and all that crazy stuff, but…with faeries! Can it get any better?

Obviously I’m being just a bit sarcastic at this point, because after reading the comments about this movie over at the Internet Movie Database I fear for the world’s collective intelligence. There are people who truly believe Wizards has substance due to its harsher elements, when in actuality these elements are nothing more than perverted padding to mask a paper-thin fantasy premise. One individual claimed the movie had a “moral message.” Yeah, I suppose, if you count inane prattling about war being bad as a message we need to hear. Face it people, there’s nothing entertaining on display here, especially not even the random bits of animation that cater to drug fiends. I can hear such a viewer now: “Ooh, that monster’s shield looks like a disco ball! My eyes feel like they’re exploding!” Get a job, you hippie.

Speaking of the animation, it’s atrocious. For whatever reason Bakshi has become somewhat renowned for his style, which to me just looks sloppy in detail and downright ugly. Much of Wizards is spent zooming in on still drawings of characters, some of which are so obviously incomplete they look like storyboard cards. I attribute this fault to lazy artists who didn’t have the incentive or budget to show us how their lame story develops. I mean, why work when you can drop a tab of acid? When the movie does bother to offer moving animation it’s almost always bland, with many of the monsters boasting upwards of two colors to their namesake. As for the Rotoscoping, a device often used by Bakshi to lengthen his films rather than improve them, it’s still just as idiotic to watch as it would be in The Lord of the Rings and American Pop. If I can quote the hippie again: “Dude! They took stock footage and made it yellow! Awesome!”

If you value your credibility as a moviegoer at all, don’t be suckered in by the cult status of Wizards. Don’t let your geek genes push you to viewing it because you heard Mark Hamill provides one of the voices. It doesn’t matter. The whole Nazi motif is a giant waste of time, since it’s delivered with about as much subtlety as a sledgehammer. And if you’re the kind of person who enjoys watching elves get their brains blown out, then maybe you should go back to the ‘70s and stay there for a long time. Meanwhile, I’ll be appreciating actual classic animation while trying to wash out all the memories Wizards implanted in my psyche. Oh, and there are prostitutes, too. Yeah, real hardcore, Bakshi. Good for you.

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