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Retrospective: Cool World

After finishing my last review, I was wondering what to watch next.  Seeking out my muse only to discover that the list had shifted; then I realised the problem with my endeavour – the bottom of the list will always change with each passing day.  So, I am just going to work through the list in no particular order which again causes a dilemma – what the hell do I watch next?  Luckily I was freed quickly from this indecision by Chris (Red Wine Gamers, Podcast of Wisdom, Ring the Bell) who simply said “Cool World”.  We had been discussing the film a little while ago with the rest of the Red Wine Gamers (Neil Aitken and Wheeeeeeeel #Preston) and they were all of a similar opinion; I had to watch it and it gets weird. Naturally I thought it sounded right up my alley, oh boy was I wrong.

Director: Ralph Bakshi
Staring: Kim Basinger, Gabriel Byrne, Brad Pitt, Charlie Adler, Candi Milo
Rating: 12
Run Time: 102 Minutes
Release Date: 1992

We start with what you would expect from any early 90’s fashionable flick, uber trendy opening credits with a loud “modern” song; no indication to the plot of the movie, just blue words on a black screen for over two minutes.  Then some back-story I guess, since the music from the opening credits does not match 1945 in the slightest, its quite a nice opening sequence leading to tragedy but then it is intercut with an animated guy talking about random rubbish before Brad Pitt (Fight Club, 12 Monkeys, Burn after Reading) is whisked away to the “Cool World”. There is no explanation as to why he is there or how he got there; simply he is now in a cartoon world.  Ok, it’s a movie, we are meant to suspend belief and I’m all up for that,  Smash cut to 1992, there is a dude played by Gabriel Byrne (Miller’s Crossing, The Usual Suspects, End of Days) in a prison with animating and drawing equipment which I am pretty sure would not be allowed in a cell.  He then disappears into Cool World – again, I have no idea how and plus, he is in a prison, how did nobody notice he was gone.  We then meet the horror of this movie – Holli Would played by Kim Basinger (LA Confidential, Batman, Wayne’s World 2) I have a lot of problems with this broad.

Cool World Screen 1

As a cartoon character, she is aesthetically pleasing, decked out in high-cut crotch cutting fashions of the era; flailing about to the trademark  trance/electronica soundtrack of the film (which is actually rated more favourably than the film itself). However, when Kim Basinger gets involved – my blood starts to boil.  Holli Would is meant to be the “Femme Fatal” of this movie, doing anything she can to obtain her end goal of becoming human which just involved her having sex with a real human man (‘noid as they are known in the Cool World). Surely a true Femme Fatal would be able to achieve this no problem – I mean look at Jessica Rabbit,  she would only have to look at a guy to have him on his knees but Holli has apparently been striving for this for about 40 years or so and failing.

We could account this to the tenacity of Brad Pitt‘s character (the cop of Cool World)  but I feel it’s simply because she really is not sexy even at the basest of levels.   Her research materials includes some of the sexiest female icons imaginable and she even boasts about wearing an exact replica of Marilyn Monroe’s dress from “Let’s make love”, but she never seems to emulate the grace and sheer sex appeal they have.  Yes, I know that it could come down to how she moves and that lies with the animators but to be honest, that wasn’t too bad; it was her characterisation and persona which feels so 2D (I know she is a cartoon – be quiet in the back)  Kim Basinger’s attempt to evoke the soft spoken charm of Marilyn Monroe just falls flat and grates on me, slowing down her speech and over-annunciating her words leading her to becoming that drunk girl at the bar who thinks she’s sexy and is trying to get in your pants; you consider it but you know that it’s not going to be an overly enjoyable experience.

Cool World Screen 4

Then she becomes human and loses the lines that define her and the little charm she possessed.  Her speech pattern becomes exaggerated and her accent falters constantly – flickering between some sort of southern drawl and an attempted cutesy cartoon voice, neither of which cry sexy to me.  To accompany this, her facial expressions leave a lot to be desired.  Her continual mastication of each word does draw attention to her mouth but not in an attractive way, the idea is to make people want to kiss you and possibly use your mouth for other endeavours – not want to smash your teeth in just to stop you talking.  She continues trying to move like a cartoon character but it just comes off as awkward and uncoordinated, leaving a lot to be desired,  considering her turn in LA Confidential (1997) as a Veronica Lake styled prostitute. Kim Basinger just did not bring the poise and finesse of the Femme Fatales she has emulated since then and you wonder if the casting director of LA Confidential had seen Cool World, would she have been cast?

Cool World Screen 2

I’m bored of talking about Holli now, I hope to never think of that idiocy for a long, long time.

The initial idea for the film sounded amazing; a film noir exploring a child of a ‘toon mother and a ‘noid father, looking for his place in the world and trying to find his father so he could kill him.  Something along the lines of Sin City with cartoons which if Ralph Bakshi (Wizards, Lord of the Rings [animated] Fire and Ice) had his way, would have been absolutely fantastic in theory.  However, thanks to Kim Basinger (another reason to hate her for this film) during a conversation with the studio about the film mentioned how she would like to make a film which she could watch with children in a Hospital.  The studio listened to this, rather than the actual creator of the idea, and rewrote the film without the knowledge or consent of Ralph Bakshi into what we have today.  I don’t know about you but I would never, EVER show this film to a child, let alone one in a hospital: it would traumatise them, just from Kim Basinger alone.  I have no idea what kind of movie she thought she signed up for that she had to cause such a drastic change plus knowing about that change was caused by her suggestion, how did she continue with such a poor performance.  I know I said I wanted to stop talking about Holli but for me, Kim Basinger is the undoing of this entire movie.

The animation is good overall; as are the 2D scenes created for the live action characters to work in but there are random animation sprinkled throughout these scenes.  During the boudoir scene between Brad Pitt and Holli Would, there is a lot of animation just placed on top of the scene with no context; such as little flying planes chasing each other while a felix-esc dog dances in the foreground.  No reason, just for the sake of it.   Also, there are a lot of irrelevant animated scenes which seemed only to be included as filler but as a film of 104 minutes, it really did not need any extending.

Back in 1992, films were on average between 70-90 minutes;  this film could have benefited with a bit of fat trimming but with the debacle Ralph Bakshi was dealing with, you can see why he told his animators to do whatever they wanted.  After the rewrite of his script, Ralph Balski was understandably unimpressed; he initially tried to  leave but the studio threatened to sue him so he punched one of the executives – which I think is fair enough.  After that he did continue with the film but instead of giving the animators a script, he told them to do whatever they want;  this is most apparent in the climax of the film.  I will not give it away here but believe me, it does go mental.  The film as a whole has a fairly linear storyline: a ‘toon wants to be a human and will do anything to achieve that, a cop has to stop her and will do anything in his power to do so, a lacky/love-interest gets used and regrets it plus a plucky side-kick gets hurt.  Pretty normal Hollywood stuff.

Cool World Screen 3

Cool World’s last 15 minutes becomes a bit demented, I actually had little idea what was happening during this time other than there is something to do with a spike and cartoons seem to be bleeding through plus Gabriel Byrnes character turns into a cartoon whilst Holli Would apparently just gives up on the idea of staying human to ride a giant flying cartoon thing.  You can truly see that the animators just did not care about the storyline; or even know it, and just drew whatever the heck they wanted.

I do not have many qualms with the rest of the acting, it wasn’t great but it was kind of in keeping with the tone the film should have had.  As with Mimic, I was glad I watched it.  Everyone had told me to watch it and I was intrigued by the idea of it.  Now I know to avoid it at all costs and if I want to want a film that blends live-actions with animation, I will just stick with Who Framed Roger Rabbit and will never let my eyes fall on this perversion again.[/video]

[tabgroup][tab title=”The Good“]
Soundtrack – if you are into 90’s electronica trance music
Brad Pitt looks pretty
The 2D sets look quite good

[/tab][tab title=”The Bad“]
Kim Basinger
Kim Basinger
The story got lost at the end and just turned into animated nonsense…. no, it’s still Kim Basinger

[/tab][/tabgroup]

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