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Jack Deebs is a cartoonist who is due to be released from jail. His comic book "Cool World" describes a zany world populated by "doodles" (cartoon characters) and "noids" (humanoids). What Jack did't realize is that Cool World really does exist, and a "doodle" scientist has just perfected a machine which links Cool World with our world. Intrigued at seeing his creating come to life, Jack is nonetheless wary as he knows that not everything in Cool World is exactly friendly. Written by
Murray Chapman <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Not a very good movie, but an interesting one that is worth seeing at least once
Here's my review of Ralph Bakshi's 1992 Paramount Picture "Cool World", starring Brad Pitt, Gabriel Byrne, & Kim Basinger.
I won't give a plot synthesis, as that would spoil the fun. Instead, I'll cut straight to the chase and give you my brutally honest opinion on this film. I'll start with my view on the widely-held opinion that "Cool World" is a rip-off of "Who Framed Roger Rabbit". Even though "Cool World" is undeniably Roger Rabbit-esquire, and Brad Pitt said in an interview that "'Cool World' is like 'Roger Rabbit' on acid", sexy cartoon women and combining live-action and animation have been staples of Bakshi's films before Gary K. Wolf even created Roger Rabbit. "Cool World" reminds me more of "Gremlins 2: The New Batch", because A: The rule that noids (humans) and doodles (cartoon characters) can not have sex with each other is similar to the 3 rules for owning a Mogwai because they are ancient sacred rules that must not be broken, lest cartoon-type chaos wreck havoc, & B: Holli's goons (Slash, Bash, Mash and Bob) reminded me of Gizmo's 2nd batch of offspring (Mohawk, Daffy, George and Lenny).
Anyway, there are a lot of things wrong with this movie. First of all, there are lots of plot holes and plot points that are never fully explained. This might be fun for those with imagination, but most would find it lazy and rushed. Kim Basinger is a pretty lousy actress in this movie. True, her character Holli Would was meant to be hated, but the doodle and noid versions of Holli look and behave so differently it's almost hard to believe that they're the same character. Gabriel Byrne plays a pretty dull character in this film, and only part I was interested in Jack was when he became a super-powered doodle, and that wasn't even Gabe voicing Super Jack, it was Maurice LaMarche (who is based known as the voice of Brain from 'Pinky and the Brain'). Also, the combination of live-action and animation is not nearly as smooth (in both the way the cartoons are placed onto the live-action and in the live-action actors' interactions and responses to the cartoon characters that are added later) as it was in "Who Framed Roger Rabbit" and similar films like "Space Jam" and "Looney Tunes: Back in Action" and "The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle". To top it all off, the whole film just feels dated, even for 1992, I guess partly due to it using ink-and-paint-on-cells instead of digital ink-and-paint, which even Bakshi's protégés at the Ren and Stimpy show were able to afford on an animated TV series budget and use in several episodes of its 2nd season, which premiered only a few months after "Cool World"'s release.
But the disaster this film ended up being is actually not entirely Ralph Bakshi's fault. Ralph's original script for this had Holli (originally called Debbie Dallas) and Jack having a son who was a strange combination of live-action and animated body parts and who hated himself for what he was & what he wasn't and attempted to murder his father. But producer Frank Mancuso Junior (whose father, Frank Mancuso Senior, was then the head of Paramount Pictures) had the script completely rewritten which heavily muted the film's messages of the importance of fatherhood and the dangers of casual sex, and hired Kim Basinger (who was a pain in the butt during shooting and ruined the movie even more) and Gabriel Byrne (whom Bakshi felt was too much a foreigner to play an American underground cartoonist) when Bakshi wanted Drew Barrymore and Brad Pitt to play the leads.
But even with Mancuso's bastardizing Bakshi's original vision for the film, there are still some things in "Cool World" to enjoy. For one, the animation is mostly quite good and reminded me at times of Tiny Toons and Ren & Stimpy. Also, Brad Pitt does a rather decent job acting in this picture (despite his interactions with cartoon characters leaving a good amount to be desired, as he's no Bob Hoskins) as his character Frank Harris is rather likable. Also, Harris's arachnid doodle partner Nails is a delightful nutty character voiced by Charlie Adler, my personal favorite voice-over actor who has done many of my most favorite cartoon characters like Buster Bunny, Cow and Chicken, Ickis, Ed and Bev Bighead and many more. The secondary and minor doodles like Lonette (whom I consider a much more desirable woman than Holli due to her being a brunette and having a caring personality), the aforementioned Goons, Sparks and Doc Whiskers are all interesting (plus they're voiced by greats like Candi Milo and the aforementioned Maurice LaMarche), as are the noids Jennifer and Isabelle Malley. Too bad they're kind of stuck in the background. And there are quite a few memorable laugh-out moments that make this film worth seeing at least once IMHO.
So in the end, although this film would be perfect for Mystery Science Theater 3000, I still find "Cool World" interesting and enjoyable. It's certainly not as great as "Who Framed Roger Rabbit", I'm not quite sure if I find it better than "Space Jam" and "Looney Tunes: Back in Action" and I definitely find it better than the well-intended but ultimately lame "Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle" movie (despite AoR&B having better production values than CW). All in all, "Cool World"'s not a very good, but it is very interesting and I recommend that everyone should watch it at least once (but it's not for the immature and/or overly sensitive).
Look out for: Future Ren & Stimpy producer Steve Worth in a cameo as a comic book store patron (he's the fat guy), and also for Maggie "Maude Flanders" Roswell.
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