Friday, October 15, 2010



Directed By Ralph Bakshi

Starring: Kim Basinger, Brad Pitt, Gabriel Byrne

I'm a long-time admirer of the work of Ralph Bakshi. Like many of my favorite filmmakers, he seems to be a victim of forever seeking financing for his visions. But, when he does get his hands on some dough, his work lacks the subtle charm that a low budget brought to his earlier work. Arguably, the money behind COOL WORLD was probably the most Bakshi ever worked with.... too bad little things like a plot that a viewer could easily follow didn't come along with the package.

COOL WORLD sadly possesses moments, scenes, that But, as a whole, the film fails, with unlikeable characters and a chaotic structure that tends to frustrate.

Paramount Pictures (the film's distributor) was obviously looking for the next WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT?. What they got was Bakshi's id on screen, attempting to pigeonhole itself into an all-important PG-13 MPAA rating (gotta reach the biggest audience you can). And, if one is familiar with Ralph's previous work it's not a comfortable fit.

The story centers around Frank Harris (Brad Pitt), a returning G.I. from the horrors of World War 2 who only wants to give his mother a ride on his motorcycle, which ends in a crash that kills dear old mom and thrusts Frank into the Cool World, which is basically Toontown populated by ink and paint degenerates.

No...waitaminnit...the plot involves a cartoonist named Jack Deebs (Gabriel Byrne) in present day (1992) Las Vegas, who after a jail sentence for the murder of his cheating wife, returns to his hometown. Deebs' COOL WORLD is an underground comic book sensation, featuring paper hussy Holli Would (animated and live-action Kim Basinger) and her gang of 'toon lowlifes. He thinks that he's just having screwy dreams whenever he finds himself there, and from said dreams he draws inspiration for his work....

Around the 35 or 40 minute mark in this film, dear reader, one begins to suspect that even Bakshi himself doesn't even know what story he's trying to tell. Very rarely does a film frustrate me enough to physically interact with it, but at this point I verbally exclaimed, "The plot's broke. It's friggin' broke, the pieces ain't fitting together and flowing...", which was followed a few minutes later (under my breath) with a very exhausted and cynical, "...and no one cares."...

Anyways, unbeknown to Jack, the Cool World actually exists, and Holli has plans for him of a carnal kind. The law of Cool World is: "Doodles" (toons) don't have sex with "Noids" (humans), or,....something bad will happen, I guess. They don't really explain why boning would be bad, and the only ill effects that it seems to have is that it turns doodles into noids (Holli becomes real) and later it causes the participants of aforementioned intercourse to flicker painfully between real people and cartoon clowns.

Holli and Jack do the deed, because Holli has a weird Marilyn Monroe fetish and thinks that all of Monroe's films are real. There's a subplot in there somewhere all about a doodle scientist who has created a spike that allows doodles and noids to crossover and back and forth between the real world and the Cool World...he's also responsible for Frank Harris accidentally crossing over, but if you make it this far into the film, you won't really care.

Speaking of Frank, he's become the law enforcement of the Cool World and is partnered with a stogie smoking bug that wears a derby named Nailz (our "comedy relief", ladies and germs). Harris is seemingly eternally young now, thanks to his enviroment, and even dating a doodle..and both are sexually frustrated because they can't go beyond heavy petting.

Holli freaks out while in the "real" world, tries to steal the spike and bring about the animated Rapture, only to be stopped by Frank and cartton superhero Jack (don't ask). Harris is killed in the attempt to save the world, but is resurrected as a doodle and everyone lives happily ever after. Kinda. Who cares? Obviously not folks going to the box office, because the general audience of 1992 reacted much the same way I have to COOL WORLD, with a loud "WTF?!?!"...

On a technical level, COOL WORLD is pretty awesome to watch, especially if one tempers their viewpoint with the knowledge that this is all pre-CGI wizardry. One gets the feeling from the visuals Bakshi presents that he was aiming for a stoner audience, during a decade in which the "trip" movie had fallen outta vogue somewhat.

COOL WORLD does something amazing. It attempts to be raw and edgy, but falls short, coming off just plain crude. The film's all flash, no substance...and, doesn't even fulfill that naughty thrill that comes from seeing animated acts of depravity (for that, go look up any of Bakshi's earlier stuff), but still leaves the viewer feeling dirtier for having seen it. Watch COOL WORLD....then take a nice hot shower. Too bad no amount of hot water will wash away the sadness of having lost 101 minutes of your life sitting through it.



  1. You know how bad COOL WORLD is? COOL WORLD is so bad that even the cable movie channel Flix won't show it and they show everything they can lay their hands on.

  2. So true. Looked forward to it based on the trailer, boy was I suckered. Good lord is this movie shit. It should also be the final nail in the coffin of anyone who thinks that Pitt is a good actor.

  3. I had high hopes for this film when I heard about...then went and saw it during it's theatrical run back in '92, and was utterly disappointed with it. I think the only reason I own this on DVD is because of some sorta OCD need to be a completist...


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