SUMMARY: When Mister Rossi buys himself a car, he quickly becomes a menace to other road users.
WHY IT’S HERE: Up to this point, Bruno Bozzetto’s Mr. Rossi shorts had been gently satirical gag-based cartoons following the adventures of everyman Mr. Rossi in a series of everyday activities. ‘Mister Rossi Buys a Car’, probably the best of this fantastic series, marks the moment when the Rossi shorts start to take a turn for the dark. Beginning in the usual gag-heavy mould as Mr. Rossi observes how everyone but him has an automobile and decides to purchase one, ‘Mister Rossi Buys a Car’ changes significantly once he hits the road. Running into pretty much every little irritation a motorist could dread, Rossi’s reaction is to become a psychotic maniac determined to destroy everything and everyone in his path. A prophetic look a road rage decades before the term was coined, ‘Mister Rossi Buys a Car’ is a superb satire that keeps the laughs coming but also establishes a second act switch in which it becomes deeply troubling as well. The short ends with Rossi reduced to a shell of a man, psychologically broken and attempting to drive a hospital bed like a car while he is observed by hordes of curious doctors. Amazingly, the Rossi shorts would continue to plumb even darker depths after this, before the feature length films Bozzetto made with the character introduced dialogue and a talking dog sidekick and retooled Rossi as primarily a children’s entertainment. For those, like myself, who grew up with that Rossi, ‘Mister Rossi Buys a Car’ is a shocking discovery!