Cool World: The Film that makes me feel like a Puritan....and that's really, really messed up.
Warning: This movie is all about sex. If you're too young to deal maturely with a cartoon bimbo's insatiable lust for penis, stop reading. The film was rated PG-13 and I swear I don't mention anything that's not implicit in the flick. Sadly.
Oh dear God...it's Cool World. I've got really mixed feeling when it comes to reviewing this film. First off, I have a number of friends who swear by it. The problem is, I just can't wrap my head around why someone could actually like this film beyond a "it has cartoon boobs" kind of way. Oh wait. Maybe that's the whole point. Let's just dive in.
To understand exactly what Cool World (1992) is all about, there are two things you have to address. First off, you have to understand that this film was directed and really pushed by the one and only Ralph Bakshi. If you're into independent animation, X-rated mainstream entertainment, or you're just over the age of 40...you probably know the guy. Ralph Bakshi was this cartoonist that really made it "big" in the 1970's by spearheading X-rated animated movies for adults. Basically he was one of the first to get "adults" into watching animated movies. Fritz the Cat, Heavy Traffic, and Coonskin were all early flicks of his that were about sex, violence, and heavy social commentary. Well, the social commentary was there...but it was usually in the form of a cartoon Pig complaining about black people and, well, a lot of people take Bakshi's "commentary" as just being plain racist and tasteless. I'm not here to judge and I'm sure I'll have to talk about Bakshi's earlier films another time. All you really need to know is that Bakshi made a name for himself for making adult-themed animated films and for rotoscoping. What's Rotoscoping? It's the animation industry's term for "tracing." Basically the animator gets some live-action footage and simply traces over it to create the animation. Sometimes it's cool (like that A-ha video "Take on Me"), sometimes it's weird (like in Waking Life), and sometime it just blows (Ralph Bakshi films in general if you ask me). I'm not a animation purist or anything, and it's done, well, all the time. Hell, Disney uses it for stuff ALL the time. So why is it so important that you understand that rotoscoping was used in Cool World? You'll understand in a second.
The other thing I need to bring up so you understand what's going on here is the film "Who Framed Roger Rabbit." Now, both Cool World and Roger Rabbit were films that incorporated animation with live-action...the two components interacting with one another. The two films are often unfairly compared to one another...mainly because Roger Rabbit is really the closest thing to Cool World there is. One's a kid's movie, the other...well. Since "Who Framed Roger Rabbit" came out almost twenty years ago, I'm going to assume there's probably one person reading this who hasn't seen it. The movie had one character that was, shall we say, sort of sexual in her design.
Ok. Her design is REALLY sexual. Jessica Rabbit was a character that was defined by her sultry voice, her huge breasts which bore the load of more than a few physical acts of comedy, and her pretty much being an erotic fantasy brought to life. Thing is...it was memorable. Models have posed as her in Playboy (as pictured above) and many people (both very geeky and not) totally dig the hotness that is Jessica Rabbit. Now picture a film where they took a character like Jessica Rabbit and made the sex aspect of her character obvious. :pause: If your first thought was "Wait a second....Jessica Rabbit's sexuality is really, really, REALLY obvious already" then you get the joke. While "Who Framed Roger Rabbit" had one character that was all about being a major slut and subtly tantalizing the audience, Cool World was an entire film that practically revolves around that. So what is Cool World really about, then?
Cool World is all about cock. More specifically, the above bimbo and her insatiable need for human man penis. I really wish there was a better way to say that, but the film's plot is entirely about sex. You could even say....oh screw it. I'm going to show you one image that symbolizes and conveys not only the entire plot but why this film was made and precisely why I hate this film with a passion.
Here we see a struggling, lonely, horny cartoonist desperately reaching out to grope a big-titted blonde in a thong of his own design. Let me unpack that a little. That's Gabriel Byrne, who would later star in The Usual Suspects and play Satan in End of Days, playing the part of Jack Deebs, the horny cartoonist who just got out of prison and really, really wants to get laid. His creation, Holli Would (that's the bimbo's name) summons him to her cartoon dimension so that she can have sex with him. Apparently Holli wants to become real, and the only way to become "real" is to let a man put his woo-woo in her cha-cha. So the entire plot is really just this weird masturbatory indulgence on the part of the director. Maybe it's not that simple, but let me explain.
This film bugs me because it was directed by a cartoonist who's no stranger to simplifying the world into men and big-breasted bimbos (see other films by Ralph Bakshi, excluding the Hobbit). So a cartoonist directs a film about a cartoonist who draws a big-breasted bimbo who comes to life and wants to have sex with him. How freaking self-indulgent is that? Hell, the fact that Bakshi wanted the bimbo to be called Debbie Dalas (as in Debbie Does Dallas the PORNO) is a major clue as to what's going on. This is a weird issue for me to discuss...because it almost makes me feel like I'm some sort of Puritan prude for feeling this way. I don't draw or paint big-breasted sluts (well, not unless it's satirical) and I certainly don't convince Paramount to produce my 13-year old fantasy in the form of a major motion picture. Think I'm exaggerating?
Jack Deebs is in prison for murder (don't ask, the film doesn't tell you) and apparently drawing big slutty women has kept him sane while he was in jail. Makes sense too...when you've got a boyfriend/prison bunkmate that you don't want to think about too often. So what happens when Jack gets out of prison?
Women just can't resist the sexy magic that is Jack Deebs. Here a Bananarama reject practically asks Jack to sleep with him while he's buying comic books. Grown men who buy comic books (there are no kids in the store) equals VERY SEXY in this film's universe. Point is that this entire film feels like there's a 14 year old boy in the back saying "Oh and then she'll like totally fall in love with me and want to rock my world and everyone will think I'm the coolest and then I'll like totally jam on my electric guitar while strippers explode during the song's climax." I think I may have gotten carried away there but you get the idea.
The only law of "Cool World" (that's the cartoon dimension where Holli lives) is that "Toons don't have sex with humans." Actually they call humans Noids and Toons are called Doodles, but you get the idea. The only role the local law enforcement has to play is that of the eternal cockblocker. Christ. The film really is all about sex. So who's the detective hero of this film? Who has more lines than Jack Deebs? If you've got a sharp eye and a weird memory, you already know.
Oh, Brad Pitt, why have you forsaken me? There it is. Brad Pitt plays the real hero of this picture (well, the hero for 98% of the film). So besides having a slick haircut and having to scream at cartoon characters about how they're not allowed to get their sexual groove on with humans, what does Brad have to deal with in the film?
This is Brad's girlfriend. He's not allowed to have sex with her, despite the weird implication that she's a prostitute hanging out in dark alleys all night. She's also the only "sympathetic" female character. That said:
Here she is crying because Brad Pitt won't slip his junk inside her. Again, I'm totally not joking. :sigh: You know what? Let's talk about something else.
No, I don't think I want to talk about the scene where the mutant baby urinates all over the police car that's chasing them.
No, I also don't want to talk about how obviously bad the animation/live-action relationship is. (In case you're blind, take a look at Brad's face and try to understand how it's warping space and time.)
For the sake of karma, let me point out the one thing that is undeniably badass and cool about Cool World. While the animation itself is...let's say iffy on the quality level, the backgrounds that were painted are nothing short of awesome. They're Escher-like and very gothic...and really the best freaking part of the movie. Check it out:
That doesn't balance the karmic scales at all, but let's pretend it did just so I can continue tearing into this trainwreck relatively guilt-free. Instead of me just telling you what the problem is, let me just walk you up to the moment that wounds me:
I think Holli Would represents the modern Woman. Well, I'd like to think that a woman who invites you into her bedroom by spanking her own ass is what you'd call "modern."
What really scares me is how this entire scene was obviously rotoscoped: That means they hired a model to pose in lingerie and roll around on a bed so that a bunch of animation interns could draw her. Somehow that makes me feel dirty...like I'm watching someone else's porno, and I KNOW they've watched it a lot.
Yeah, you'd have a confused expression on your face too if you were being straddled by a cartoon character that insisted on putting on Mickey Mouse gloves before getting it on.
So, um, yeah. Jack pretty much sits there while Holli does what she wants. Oddly enough, this is almost exactly like my first time...only instead of a cartoon character it was a voluptuous (that's the sexy word for "big") black girl from the Color Guard and a bong. :sigh: Memories, right?
You know, this shot would almost be sexy if it wasn't for the mutant midget baby and his purple gorilla lurking in the background.
So here it is. Holli has finally had sex with a human being...and the change begins. She's becoming real. Like the Mexican girl who did that thing with her hips so I'd marry her and make her a citizen, Holli just earned her citizenship in the real world. The sexy stripper built like a Barbie is going to become flesh and blood.
Maybe I'm jaded or gay or something, but a 40-year old Kim Basinger does not strike me as the flesh and blood equivalent to the plastic bimbo Holli Would. To be fair, Kim was 39 when this film was made...but really. Scroll back up and look at the pictures of Holli...then come back here and look at Kim. What the hell? Maybe I'm just too young. I mean, I wasn't even 12 when this film came out. Ralph Bakshi was 54 when this was made so maybe he was shooting for "mature" sexy while drawing 19 year-old hookers on the sly. Hell, comparing the two makes Kim look like a COW. Sad how fantasy translates to Hollywood (Holli Would) reality. I do know that when they were making this film they knew Kim Basinger didn't have the body to pull off the main character. Want to know how I know? Remember the rotoscoping thing I mentioned earlier?
I think it's pretty obvious that they didn't trace footage of Kim Basinger when it came to animating the character of Holli Would. In fact, if you look at the credits you can see that the "performance model" for Holli was Jenine Jennings. I can't find anything else about this mythical "actress" but I'm guessing some hooker in L.A. was paid quite a bundle to jump around for Ralph Bakshi. I'm joking of course, but this film really does leave a nasty aftertaste the more I think about what went on behind it (no pun intended).
Instead of me explaining more about the plot and how Holli/Kim Basinger almost destroyed the world in the name of human cock, let me point out the classy ending to the film Cool World. Brad Pitt's character was pushed off a ledge by Holli Would and, well, killed. If you look above you can see his prostitute/barmaid girlfriend and his partner (who's a spider) mourning over him. In between tears the girl starts making up new rules for the cartoon universe, informing us that if a real person gets killed by a toon, they become a toon themselves. It's this cheesy last minute "let's create a happy ending" bull-crap that you'd expect to see in a film from the 1950's or something. So Brad Pitt's alive but a cartoon, and guess what the film's final dialogue is all about?
Brad: So, you know we can like totally screw each other now...
Brad's Girl: Cock! Yay!
God damn I hate this movie. I've watched porn with more subtle plots where sex is involved. I wish I was lying, but Cool World holds a special place in my heart for films that really insult both my intelligence and my tolerance for other people's masturbation fuel. Seriously though...I really don't know why I can't just enjoy this film without thinking of a creepy cartoonist from the 70's drooling over his drawings of a blonde with really big "knockers." I'm sure Ralph Bakshi's a nice man and I'm sure Jenine Jennings isn't a hooker that Paramount paid to dance for the animation team. In fact, I think Cool World may be the best film ever.....good wholesome fun for the whole family. On that note, I really wonder what Paramount was expecting from a film about a cartoon slut who needs penis to become real. Is it a surprise to anyone that this film didn't become an instant classic?
That's it. I'm done. If you're the kind of person who needs to see rotoscoped breasts and "my hump my hump my lovely lady lumps" bounce around on screen, then by all means check out Cool World. You sick bastard. : )
It amuses the crap out of me that despite my bashing of this film, I included all the slutty images. I'd like to pretend that's just me providing evidence so that you can see I'm not making this up, but maybe some secret part of me wants to have sex with my own drawings. Then again as I look through my drawings, I really don't see that happing. By the way all images are used via fair use for critique purposes...and the copyrights are held by their prospective owners. The Playboy cover is used mainly to show you just how "mainstream" the whole Jessica Rabbit lust thing is/was. Oh and that "how I lost my virginity" joke? It wasn't one. Ah, the joys of High School.