I am a child of the 1990s. That was the decade of edgy entertainment that offended some but pleased many. TV shows like The Ren and Stimpy Show, Beavis and Butt-head, and South Park, a skyrocketing of profanity in movies (Goodfellas, Casino, The Big Lebowski, etc.), and the birth of the Mortal Kombat and Grand Theft Auto games occurred in this decade. It was a period when artists finally beginning to push the envelope. Result? Profanity, grossness, sex, violence.
Unfortunately, this was sometimes used in an attempt to make up for a lack of talent. Case in point, Cool World. This movie has developed a cult following, but I really don’t understand why. It is a weak effort that tries to make up for that with adult content.
We begin in 1945. World War II veteran Frank Harris and his mother get in a motorcycle accident. Frank’s mother dies, and Frank himself ends up passing into The Cool World. In 1992 cartoonist Jack Deebs is pulled into The Cool World by a doodle of his, Holli Would, who wants to be real in the real world. You see, a doodle becomes real if he/she has sex with a real person. We are also told that The Cool World is a cartoon world in which every doodle ever created lives. You can’t die there, but nothing feels as vivid as in the “real world.” Also, everybody seems to be messy and ill-mannered, again, keeping with the ’90s. Other than that, though, things are really hard to figure out. Take Holli’s brief trip back to the Cool World to say goodbye to some friends after becoming real. Going there wasn’t shown as being easy up to this point. Cool World is very much a “just go with it” kind of movie.
Cool World uses a combination of live action and animation obviously inspired by 1988’s Who Framed Roger Rabbit. But while great care was taken to make that movie’s mixture look convincing (I’m not going to say “believable” of a partial cartoon), the same cannot be said of Cool World. Lighting is inconsistent and even the movement of animated characters is sometimes sloppy.
The acting is pretty poor. By no means is it an accident that Frank came to The Cool World in 1945, because most of the human actors talk like characters in a 1940s movie. Do they pull it off? Not really. With a few exceptions, the acting is pretty poor, perhaps because the actors seem embarassed. A pre-household name Brad Pitt turns in a particularly awful performance here. Today, I’d say that Pitt is… above average, actually. But still way better than in this flick.
Since Kim Basinger’s character is named Holli Would, the humorous wit of The Cool World filmmakers is all too clear. Groin kicks, dick jokes, lame grossness, and every Vegas cliche in the book are how they try to make you laugh. And fail. Among the bad comedy is some guys building a several-stories-tall tower of random crap so they can see Holli and Jack having sex. Just terrible.
The ending seems to have a message that we all need a healthy fantasy life as long as it doesn’t get overboard, but if so, it fails. Part of this is because things get more out of hand than ever in the last ten minutes or so. Jack becomes a doodle that is a Superman wannabe, which seems odd, given that he was quite a flawed character up until then.
Cool World is a good concept. The idea of a edgier attempt at what worked marvelously with the aforementioned Who Framed Roger Rabbit had promise and probably still does. But flawed animation and awful comedy make for lousy execution. I’m sorry to say that Cool World is best forgotten. And yes, I recognize how hypocritical that makes this review.
Overall: 3 out of 10