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Cool World Print E-mail
Tuesday, 11 November 2003

Cool World

Paramount Home Entertainment
MPAA rating: PG-13
starring: Kim Basinger, Gabriel Byrne, Brad Pitt, Candi Milo, Charlie Adler
release year: 1992
film rating: Two Stars
sound/picture: Two Stars
reviewed by: Tara O'Shea

Frank Harris (Brad Pitt) comes home from World War II to his adoring mother outside Las Vegas full of dreams. However, when he takes her on an inaugural spin on the shiny motorcycle he won in a poker game, tragedy strikes. Mere moments after his mother's death, Frank is pulled into an alternate animated reality --Cool World -- by a daffy Mr. Magoo-like scientist. Flash forward 35 years, and Frank is the ultra-hip "noid" cop on Cool World's police force, making sure the doodles (i.e., drawn inhabitants) stick to the straight and narrow. However, a perpetual thorn in Frank's side is Holli Would (Kim Basinger). Holli is a doodle -- not unlike Marilyn Monroe as envisioned by Frank Frazetta -- and she has her eye on stardom in the Real World.
However, the only way a doodle can become real is to "make it" with a noid, and Holli has her eye on comic book creator Jack Deeds (Gabriel Byrne), who has been drawing Holli and the other Cool World denizens for years while in prison. Jack believes he created Cool World, and that he only dreams he goes there at night. Frank pays Jack a visit, trying to impress upon him that if he and Holli have sex, the entire fabric of the universe will be at risk. Frank plays by the rules himself -- resisting temptation with his gorgeous doodle gal, Lonette. He means business. However, as I'm sure you can guess, Jack gives in to temptation and, of course, universe-shattering hijinks ensue.

"Cool World" is not a cool movie. It tries to be a sexy, adult sort of "Who Framed Roger Rabbit." However, the film lacks the charm of the iconic Disney and Warner Bros. characters and, with the sole exception of Pitt as Frank, well-rounded sympathetic characters. Ralph Bakshi (best known for "Fritz the Cat") creates an animated world that is disturbingly frenetic, filled with cartoon clichés that serve to only confuse and, at times, repulse. However, given that it's Bakshi, that may well be the intent and fans of his work know what they are in for when they pop the disc in. Pitt and Byrne do their best, acting against costars who would be painted in later. However, the film is wildly uneven and at times completely grotesque. Basinger does a good comic turn as an iconic blonde bombshell. The romp may entertain briefly but is quickly forgotten.

Paramount continues to bring out films from its catalogue, updated with a new 5.1 sound mix, but devoid of any extras. "Cool World" has probably never looked better. Unfortunately, that’s not saying too much. There's quite a bit of noticeable grain, and while the colors in Vegas and the animated world should pop, the film is so unrelentingly dark that the result is by turns garish and muddy. Fleshtones are consistent, but blacks have a tendency to lack depth. The sound mix doesn't blow you away, but dialogue is clear and easy to understand, and the climactic battle atop a Vegas casino does offer a few treats. However, the mix is overall merely standard, and offers no real surprises.

Fans of Pitt, Basinger, Byrne and Bakshi may need to have this in their collections. However, in another decade, it's more than likely "Cool World" will just be a footnote in animation history, as a failed attempt to blend live-action and animation for an older audience. Too bad that the script and direction fail to live up to the hype.

more details
sound format:
English 5.1 Surround
aspect ratio(s):
Widescreen anamorphic format: 1.85:1
special features: N/A
comments: email us here...
reference system
DVD player: Pioneer DV-C302D
receiver: Yamaha RXU870
main speakers: Boston Acoustics
center speaker: Boston Acoustics
rear speakers: Boston Acoustics
subwoofer: Velodyne
monitor: 32" Sony Trinitron

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