Sep 14, 2010

Cool World

Being redirected by splotches of classic memories of Cool World, I decided to revisit the sudsy noir-typed gonzo inspirations found within the vault of Ralph Bakshi's return to feature films. After Fire and Ice, it just seemed that Bakshi retired all too soon to the measly slave-tracks that is syndicated television. But before you knew it, a new film was announced to predate the repopulated live-action/animated musings of Space Jam. Cool World stars Brad Pitt before he hit the spotlight with his best roles to date (Kalifornia and True Romance) and Kim Basinger playing herself for the seductive and manipulating Holli Would; lending voice to toon and likeness to "Noid." Imagine my surprise when I discovered this magical land that filled my head with throbbing fetishes as a child turned out to be a spoiled script behind even more rotten directing, not to mention the animated population of Cool World to be less-than-Crumb fantasies of bizarre slapstick and catty chubbies with heaving breasts. Things aren't all bad in Cool World, however as life is cheap and women are even cheaper.

Taking an aimless road, Cool World opens with Frank Harris, a WWII veteran returning home to his lovely Ma with a personal gift to the both, a motorcycle. After one fateful accident minutes later, Frank Harris is thrust into an animated paradoxical world of cigarettes, twisted subsurreal architecture, and boozy women. Coincidentally, some 40+ years later, an animator played unconvincingly by Gabriel Byrne creates Cool World and is too sucked into some strange, incoherent wormhole that leads to the place of his creating. Funny thing about this is that this portal to Cool World opens on golden opportunities and never without plot progression in mind which connects even more wildly to the theory that Cool World is just the hidden fetishes coming to fruition within a possibly comatose Frank Harris' mind. Once we are introduced to the 3 - 4 reoccurring characters that highlight the faceless world of cool, we are met with a femme fatale blonde bombshell by the name of Holli Would, who kills the shit out of Jessica Rabbit in terms of evoking youthful sexuality to bloom prematurely. Throughout the entirety of the time spent in the radical degeneracy of Cool World, sporadic looped footage of a doodle mob parades slowly across the screen obscuring the sights and sounds that Cool World has to offer. This mental onslaught is yet another cheap tactic that Bakshi employs in what is possibly the worst in his career. The amount of zero mentality looped footage alone is staggering and impossible not to pick up on.

One of the only merits that Cool World has to offer is terrific background visuals in a wild neon mess that houses oversexualized Saturday morning cartoon fodder. The "doodles" in their reverse beat generation are all broad shouldered or teeming with unsubtle cleavage. In regards to the decade of the 90s and the video rental boom, I must digress that Cool World must have had something to do with the current generation's obsession of Japanese animated women and their almost always incestuous relationships. Cool World didn't invent the fanatical subversion of animated fantasy but it sure as hell broke it out into the mainstream by planting seeds within children's minds. For me growing up, the plot of Cool World escaped me. I simply had memories of scrambled scenes that held no continuity other than Brad Pitt smoking and bimbo cartoons. After committing myself to the institution that is Cool World, I feel that this is one of those rare occurrences in which the memories lasting within the stems of past viewings are more favorable than the current result. Re-watching Cool World certainly rotted the core of my past recollection and the only safe tiding I can manage is to envision this film as the inhibitions of a comatose soldier returned home. That certainly spices up the frequent shortcomings and inconsistencies littering this animated abortion.

As with most of Bakshi's work, there are fragments of inspired genius and Cool World is not without these brilliant minerals but treading through the run time seems like an infinite purgatory. Perhaps Bakshi had developed a lazy senility which would certainly explain the looped alienating segments of crude illustrations. Seems as if scrapped storyboards were used as a sensory overload to stimulate the mind into processing all of which this film doesn't offer. But what Cool World does offer is a terrific mondo metropolis realized by screaming and twisted branches mutating off cityscapes. Furthermore, Cool World recycles most of Bakshi's previous successful avant-garde animations e.g. Fritz the Cat and Hey Good Lookin'. Inspired so, the costumes of many-a-citizen of Cool World seemed idealized by that same whisper that Bakshi fell victim to during conception of the 50's extravagance. As it is, this is a venture into live-action/animation that I'd prefer to avoid in favor for the multicultural exploitation that is Space Jam or the more successful greasy noir that is Who Framed Roger Rabbit?. While Roger Rabbit didn't have such gratuitous and delightfully harmful sexuality, it encompassed the desperation and dinginess of film noir so much better than the shattered product of Cool World. In praise to Cool World, it was one of the few examples to reach viral hall of fame with the rare event of "desecrating" the Hollywood sign by constructing a 75 foot tall Holli on top of the letter "D". I  suppose the legacy of Cool World is destined to perish among an elusive photograph of such and the bargain begging price of five dollars. To put it rather simply, Cool World is just another disappointing debacle of squandered talent - should have been reserved for art galleries and not cineplexes.



Steve Miller said...

Guys... the new background makes it very difficult to read the articles.

jervaise brooke hamster said...

Its a shame "Cool World" lost its way in the last 25 minutes because for the first hour it was quite magnificent.

eddie lydecker said...

Another edition of "DVD Delerium" has just been published, it is essential reading for all "cult movie freaks".

Cindy Hinds said...

Jervaise is right, the first hour of "Cool World" is incredible with 5 or 6 truly marvellous sequences one after the other. Its true the ending did seem a little bit hurried but like i said that first 55 or 60 minutes is one of the greatest (and most ludicrously under-rated) pieces of film making that i`ve ever witnessed.

willy jerk-off said...

Maybe Steve but ultimately i think Charlotte Rampling makes it worth while (and red is my favorite color).