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Around here, anything goes. Anything goes except one thing...
A 1992 movie by Ralph Bakshi where a cartoonist finds himself in the animated world he created, and is seduced by one of his characters, a comic strip vamp who wants to be real. Cool World marked Bakshi's return to feature films after nine years. The film was originally pitched as an animated horror film about an underground cartoonist who fathers an illegitimate half-human/half-cartoon daughter who hates herself for what she is and tries to kill him.
The plot itself (if you could call it that, after all that Executive Meddling) opens with Frank Harris (Brad Pitt), a World War II veteran who finds himself transported to the titular Cool World, a strange alternate universe inhabited by cartoon "Doodles", following the death of his mother in a motorcycle accident. There, he becomes a police officer tasked with enforcing the Cool World's single law: Noids (real people) do not have sex with Doodles (cartoons). This causes him no small amount of torment, as he has fallen in love with a Doodle waitress named Lonette.
Years later, a disturbed comics artist named Jack Deebs (Gabriel Byrne) murders his wife's lover in a fit of passion, and as a result is sent to prison. For escape (of the mental, not physical type), Jack draws a comic book based on the dreams he is continually having of the Cool World and a woman named Holli Would (Kim Basinger). We first meet Jack when he is being released from prison upon the successful completion of his sentence. Through means that are never adequately explained, Holli manages to pull Jack into the Cool World and seduce him, her goal being to become a Noid and be able to experience the pleasures real people enjoy. Having broken the Cool World's law, however, Jack and Holli start a chain of events that could result in the destruction of the world. It falls on Frank's shoulders to face his demons, return to reality, and save the day.
Contrast Who Framed Roger Rabbit?.
- All Men Are Perverts: Played straight with Jack, who succumbs to Holli's charms, but averted with Frank, who has been together with Lonette for a while, but has never had sex with her in compliance with Cool World's only law, which he is obliged to enforce as a cop.
- All Women Are Lustful: Holli Would and Lonette are both very eager to get it on with their respective men, with Lonette displaying less ability to cope with the Can't Have Sex Ever situation that she and Frank are in.
- Ascended Extra: Cast-wise, Candi Milo was originally only there (and pregnant) to feed lines to the main cast, but was impressive enough to voice two distinctive characters and has gone on to become one of the premiere VO in the biz and the only success to come from this movie.
- As You Know: Instead of a more dramatic flashback, this is exaclty how we find out why Jack was in prison. "Hey Deebs, why don't you do a book on the guy you murdered. You know, the one you caught in bed with your wife."
- Author Appeal
- Big Bad: Holli Would would if she could... no matter who gets hurt in the process.
- Blondes Are Evil: Holli Would, of course. Combine that with her white clothes, and you have someone that doesn't look evil but truly is.
- Can't Have Sex Ever: Frank and Lonette. Subverted in the end, where he becomes a Doodle and clothes come off in a hurry.
- Celibate Hero: Definitely played straight with Frank Harris. He first came to Cool World in 1945 and when it skips over to 1992, 47 years later, he has been romantically involved with Lonette for quite a while without having sex with her and has not broken the law with any other female Doodle. And there is no clue or hint given that a human woman has come over for him to even have a quickie with. Wow.
- Cluster F-Bomb: Harris to Jack in the real world.
- Crapsack World
- Cult Soundtrack: The soundtrack is the most popular thing to come out of this movie.
- Death by Sex: The entire universe, courtesy of Jack and Holli. Well, supposedly.
- Deus Ex Machina: The MOTHER of all non-lampshaded deus ex machinas. It just so happens after Frank is killed that when a Noid is killed by a Doodle, they become a Doodle themselves, permitting him to live again.
- Executive Meddling: See above. The movie was intended to be an erotic horror flick about a cartoonist fathering an angsty Half-Doodle daughter with a Doodle by the name of Debbie Dallas, but producer Frank Mancuso Jr. and Kim Basinger nixed that at the last minute to make it more kid-friendly and the into the complete and total bomb we know it as.
- Femme Fatale: Holli.
- Gainax Ending: The SNES game. As in many other licensed games of that era, A Winner Is You was in full effect. The game ends with the protagonist's fall into Cool World... only reversed. That's it, really.
- Goldfish Poop Gang: The Goons, Slash, Crash, Bash, and Bob.
- Groin Attack: Two times, one to Jack and one to Harris, by Holli.
- Grotesque Cute
- Humanity Ensues
- The Immodest Orgasm
- Indecisive Deconstruction: See Executive Meddling; this film was supposed to deconstruct Interspecies Romance and Perverse Sexual Lust, but wasn't able to.
- Ink Suit Actor: Holli Would was tweaked to look more like Kim Basinger.
- Mean Character, Nice Actor: Kim Basinger plays the Big Bad but was part of the Executive Meddling out of a desire to be able to show Cool World in hospitals for sick children.
- Meaningful Name: "Holli Would would if she could but she can't."
- Medium Blending
- Mood Whiplash: The film goes straight from Frank's mother's death to a slapstick sequence.
- Noids Are Bastards: Frank's reason for not wanting to leave Cool World. Having gone through World War II and seeing firsthand the hellhole that a war is, makes him decide that Cool World, as much of a Crapsack World as it is, is a better place than the Noids' world because it does not have any wars going on, ever. It's just in a constant state of chaos, murder (which is normally painful but not permanent), destruction, depravity, and abuse, but hey, at least it's not war.
- Non-Human Sidekick: Nails the Spider.
- Oh Crap: Holli's expression when Jack returns the Spike.
- Only Sane Woman: Despite spending the movie smackdab in the middle of Cloudcuckooland, Lonette is the most level-headed Doodle, if not character in the entire movie.
- Painting the Fourth Wall: In the scenes where 'Noids are in Cool World, the real-world props are deliberately as flat and 2-dimensional as possible
- Perverse Sexual Lust: Not only does Jack Deebs have it for Holli, a cartoon character he himself created, it could be argued that the entire movie is in fact about PSL, and may be the only major Hollywood production to deal with the subject so extensively. Or at all. For further elaboration, consider this NWS review.
- Pinocchio Syndrome
- Private Detective: Frank Harris
- Punny Name: Holli Would = Hollywood
- Roger Rabbit Effect: The reason it isn't called the Holli Would Effect. But this film did give the trope its alt title, Noids and Doodles.
- Self Insert: Jack Deebs is a cult-popular cartoonist with a small but dedicated fandom, who hasn't had a real success in years and is mostly known in the mainstream as a dark weirdo. He longs for hot cartoon women and his idea of utopia is a roiling chaos of cartoon insanity with distinct sexual overtones. Yeah, more than a few people have connected the dots.
- Shell-Shocked Veteran: Frank has a very brief war flashback after the accident.
- Sitting Sexy on a Piano
- Some of the background cartoon characters that are wolves look very familiar, Ralph Bakshi had stated that he as well as his workers were fans of Tex Avery.
- One part of the movie had a black and white dog that looked Bimbo, while another scene of the movie had a big character that looked like Bluto(from Popeye).
- Sympathetic Murderer: Jack Deebs killed his wife's lover. Neverthless, he seems to have become a bit of a mini-celebrity in the comics world.
- Stripperiffic: Holli Would
- That's All Folks:
Nails: Bye bye folks, have a nice life!
- The Renaissance Age of Animation: Its one of the few animated films that wasn't aimed for kids during this time.
- Toon Physics
- Toon Town: The titular Cool World, although its more screwed up.
- Trapped in Another World: Jack Deebs gets pulled inside the titular Cool World by Holli.
- Unusual Euphemism: Frank uses one of these when delivering his lecture to Jack about the no Noid-Doodle sex law
Frank: You keep your pencil in your pocket. Know what I mean?
- Villainous Crossdresser: Bob, though he's harmless, if annoying.
- Viva Las Vegas: The film is set in Las Vegas
- Wag the Director: Actress Kim Basinger is responsible for the movie being toned down to a PG-13 movie. She wanted to make a movie that she could show in hospitals to sick children. Mancuso agreed with her. Bakshi was baffled.
- Weaksauce Weakness: Nails is allergic to clouds.