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‘Cool World’

By Hal Hinson
Washington Post Staff Writer
July 10, 1992


Ralph Bakshi
Kim Basinger;
Gabriel Byrne;
Brad Pitt
Children under 13 should be accompanied by a parent

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The major issue to be resolved in "Cool World," Ralph Bakshi's new venture into the "Roger Rabbit"-style marriage of animation and live action, is whether Kim Basinger is more obnoxious as a cartoon or as a real person.

Basinger plays Holli Would, a curvacious pen-and-ink nymphet who lives in a cartoon universe called "Cool World." This animated parallel dimension was created, Holli included, by Jack Deebs (Gabriel Byrne), an underground cartoonist who, without warning, is suddenly whisked into his own fantasy creation. The catalyst for this abduction is Holli herself, who lusts so mightily for life in the real world that she beckons Jack from his realm to help her make it across.

Holli is a creature of lusts, as every inch of her anatomy illustrates. As a cartoon, Holli incessantly gyrates and grinds as if she's gulped a handful of Mexican jumping beans. And when the transformation from cartoon to flesh-and-blood actress occurs, the body language remains the same. The results fall far short of Jessica Rabbit's mark. What we get from Basinger here is the spectacle of the actress executing her impersonation of Marilyn Monroe while trying to twist herself into a human pretzel. It's not funny and, unless I'm the only human alive not turned on by an animated striptease, it's not sexy either.

That doesn't leave much. The script (by Michael Grais and Mark Victor) includes a second relationship between a "noid," as the humans are called in the Cool World, and a "doodle," the name for animated characters. The noid is a detective named Frank (Brad Pitt) who was thrown into the Cool zone after he crashed his motorcycle, and his cartoon squeeze a foxy brunette. The couple are tight but they have a problem: Noids and doodles can't ... do it. Doing it, in fact, figures dramatically in the plot. It was "doing it" with Jack, a noid, that transformed Holli into a real person. So, like, couldn't Frank and his girl ... you know ... and transform her into a real person? What are the rules anyway?

Technically, Bakshi's work is uneven; some of the characters in his Cool universe are hilarious, while others are flat. And the combination of live and animated action falls a notch below state of the art. The look of the production is fresh and, at times, even thrilling, but for the film to work, Bakshi has to make his artificial world seem real, and he never does. That's the animator's bottom line, and Bakshi leaves it blank. His only contribution is the irreverent, Vargas-girl variety sexuality that he made his trademark in"Fritz the Cat" and "Heavy Traffic." But is it really an innovation to provide a realistic jiggle to an animated breast?

© Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company

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