12 May 2003 | San Franciscan
The messiest, sloppiest animated film ever made?
I wish to state that I don't mean my review title to be sarcastic. I have a tough time being "cruel" to a movie like this because I was informed beforehand of Bakshi's well-meaning intentions here. I'm not a Bakshi fan, but I appreciate what he has been attempting to do even if I personally don't care for the content of his movies.
While Bakshi certainly has a reputation for creating films that have outraged, offended and (with certain audiences) entertained, he is also known by those who have met him for being someone who indeed genuinely cares about people, wants to use his medium to show how messed up our modern society is and how folks can triumph over the worst of difficulties while trapped within it. The only problem is that he has a tough time communicating with others, both personally and through his films. Somewhere beneath all the X-ratings and reputation, there is indeed (believe it or not) a very caring, sensitive man.
Believe it or not, he had thought of COOL WORLD as a statement speaking out on the dangers of casual sex (his proclamation, not mine). He's trying to point out just how dangerous such actions can be so as to caution his audience about bodily responsibility. And, he had hoped, might even help save lives.
The problem is that his movie is simply a mess. I've been informed all about the insiders' stories regarding what went wrong with this production (apparently there was even at least a couple of extra hours of this movie made!!), including the fact that its storyline was made up as Bakshi went along (a habit he has, I'm told, with all of his films).
The technical flaws, acting and everything else here are by now legendary to the public, so (even though it's certainly not a favourite title of mine) I'm going to instead point out four things I *did* actually enjoy about the movie.
(1) Conceptual designer Barry Jackson's background designs and paintings are absolutely brilliant. People familiar with my own work already know that I've spent a lifetime drawing stuff similar to this sort of "twisted background" style, so I in particular was fascinated and impressed by Jackson's amazing work even if it was emotionally the exact opposite of the sort of atmospheres I create. I actually took the time back in 1992 to call him up and compliment him personally on his material in COOL WORLD; it's that impressive. But VERY dark as it appears in this film, which is as a city imagined in the troubled and desperate mind of a jailed cartoonist.
(2) I enjoy most of the music on the soundtrack: Mark Isham's score is to die for, and many of the songs here are a lot of fun, especially David Bowie's title piece that plays over the ending credits and The Thompson Twins' "Play With Me" which blares over the opening. (An interesting piece of musical trivia here: there is a song called "Mindless" which only credits itself as "Written by Mindless", "Performed by Mindless" and "Produced by Mindless". I wonder who it really is...? Spooky...)
(3) Holli Would is a thoroughly detestable character; many say she has no personality, but that isn't the case. She has one, alright... a selfish, cruel, insensitive personality that doesn't care about anybody or anything else (much less the results of her own actions) as long as she gets her own way. She may be physically more beautiful technically than Jessica Rabbit, but Jessica is by far the more wonderful "ideal woman" of the two in terms of her true blue intentions and personality. So it probably comes as no surprise that there is *ONE* scene in the whole film which *IS* funny; it's at the very end, after the Spike of Power is plugged back where it belongs. For a split second, we see Holli do in shock the most hilariously unflattering take you have EVER seen! Watching her be put through such a hysterical piece of animation after her being so selfish and design-perfect throughout the rest of the film is a delight. ...and finally,
(4) Yes, it is a sloppy film. And so far, I'm convinced it's the messiest film of it's type I've ever seen. But at least it had good intentions, which does place it a mark above other movies out there which were simply offensive dreck without any intentions at all. I may not enjoy the movie and never will, but I do personally forgive Bakshi this film because I know he was trying to say something important for others' sake.