Cool World

Cool World
Cool World

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Ralph Bakshi
Produced by Frank Mancuso, Jr.
Written by Michael Grais
Mark Victor
Larry Gross
Starring Kim Basinger
Gabriel Byrne
Brad Pitt
Charlie Adler
Candi Milo
Michael David Lally
Music by Mark Isham
Cinematography John A. Alonzo
Editing by Steve Mirkovich
Annamaria Szanto
Studio Paramount Pictures
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release date(s) July 10, 1992 (1992-07-10)
Running time 102 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $20 Million
Box office $14,110,589

Cool World is a 1992 American live-action/animated film directed by Ralph Bakshi, and starring Kim Basinger, Gabriel Byrne, and Brad Pitt. It tells the story of a cartoonist who 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.

During production, Bakshi's original screenplay was scrapped by producer Frank Mancuso, Jr. and heavily rewritten by screenwriting duo Michael Grais and Mark Victor, best known for writing Poltergeist and Poltergeist II: The Other Side, and an uncredited Larry Gross. Reviews praised the film's visuals, but criticized the story and characters, as well as the combination of live-action and animation, which some critics felt was unconvincing.



In 1945 Las Vegas, World War II veteran Frank Harris returns to his mother. Shortly after his arrival, he shows his mother a motorcycle that he won in Italy during his service. Out in the desert, they both ride on the motorcycle, but collide with a drunk couple. Frank survives, but his mother dies. As an ambulance truck takes her away, Frank is suddenly transported to an animated realm named the "Cool World", a hellish, twisted city of surreal landscapes and random cartoon violence. He was zapped there by mistake, thanks to a doctor named Doc Whiskers, who created a "spike" that was supposed to take him to the real world, but brought Frank to Cool World instead. Doc Whiskers' interrogators seem to dislike Frank, but Doc Whiskers finds Frank useful enough to run things in the Cool World while Doc Whiskers is gone to the real world.

Fast forward to 1992, where we see Jack Deebs, a cartoonist who is in jail after murdering a man he found in bed with his wife. While in prison, he creates the highly-acclaimed comic book series known as "Cool World", which features the femme fatale nymphomaniac Holli Would. On the night before his release, Holli takes Jack into the Cool World, where Jack lands in the middle of a dance club, where he sees Holli dance. After he sees her dance, Jack is zapped back to the real world. It turns out that Holli wants to enter the real world, but is forbidden to do so by Frank, who is now a police officer in the Cool World. After being released from prison, Jack is transported to the Cool World once again, where he is properly introduced to Holli and her goons. Meanwhile, Frank is about to go on a date with his girlfriend Lonette, when his partner Nails, a spider, tells him about Jack's presence. Frank confronts Jack at the local Slash Club, informing him that the Cool World has existed long before he created the comic series and warns him that "noids" (humans from the real world), are not allowed to have sex with "doodles" (the inhabitants of the Cool World). After that, Jack is transported back to the real world.

Holli brings Jack back into the Cool World later on, where The Goons meet him and take him to Holli's apartment. Holli and Jack finally have sex, which transforms Holli into a real human being. While Frank attempts to mend his relationship with Lonette, he temporarily leaves detective duties to Nails. Nails receives a call from an informant named Sparks, who tells him that Jack and Holli have finished having sex and are leaving for the real world. Nails decides that he can do this on his own and goes off to stop Holli. As Holli says goodbye to her gang, Nails pops in to try to stop her from leaving the Cool World. But Holli uses a pen to suck Nails in, trapping him inside. Jack and Holli then leave the Cool World and return to the real world, where Holli sings "Let's Make Love" at a nightclub with Frank Sinatra, Jr.. Frank discovers that Nails has been done away with and decides to venture into the real world to pursue Jack and Holli. Meanwhile, Jack and Holli have started to flicker between human and doodle states. While contemplating their situation, Holli tells Jack about the "Spike of Power", an artifact placed on the top of a Las Vegas casino by a doodle who crossed into the real world. When Jack displays skepticism about the idea, Holli abandons Jack to search for the spike on her own.

Frank meets up with Jack later on, and they both decide to team up and stop Holli from removing the spike. They get Jennifer, the daughter of Jack's neighbour to drive them to the casino, and on the way, Frank explains that it was Doc Whiskers who crossed worlds and put the spike on the top of the hotel and if it were removed, it could potentially destroy the real world and the Cool World. Holli is escourted out of the casino for asking about Vegas Vinnie, which is the alias of Doc Whiskers. When she spots the Doc, she tells him that she couldn't find him, but when she starts to flicker between human and doodle state again, she begins to become suspicious and starts to see through Doc's disguise and shakes him out of it, revealing his identity. Doc tries to convince Holli not to get the Spike of Power, but Holli becomes enraged and threatens Doc Whiskers with the same pen she used on Nails. When Frank, Jack, and Jennifer get to the destination, Frank pursues Holli on the casino, while Jack and Jennifer put Doc Whiskers back together after being popped by Holli's pen. Frank chases after Holli throughout the hotel, while she's still flickering from human to doodle state. While in doodle form, Holli eventually kills Frank by pushing him off the top of the building. Holli finds and takes the Spike of Power, transforming her, Jack, and everyone in Vegas into doodles and opening a gateway between the two worlds, releasing numerous monstrous doodles. Fighting off an increasing number of doodles as a superhero doodle, Jack returns the Spike of Power to its place, trapping him, Holli and the rest of the doodles in Cool World.

Meanwhile, Nails manages to escape from Holli's pen, and both he, Doc Whiskers, and Frank's body return to Cool World. Lonette is heartbroken, but suddenly realizes that when a noid is killed by a doodle, he is reborn in Cool World as a doodle. On cue, Frank appears in doodle form, allowing him to pursue his relationship with Lonette. Holli is now stuck with Jack, who plans to marry Holli, much to her dismay as she mutters, "Pencil dick."


Voice Cast

  • Charlie Adler - Nails the Spider / Additional Voices
  • Candi Milo - Lonette / Bob / Additiobal Voices
  • Joey Camen - Interrogator #1 / Slash / Holli's Door
  • Jenine Jennings - Craps Bunny
  • Michael David Lally - Sparks
  • Maurice LaMarche - Interrogator #2 / Mash / Drunken Bar Patron / Dr. Vincent "Vegas Vinnie" Whiskers / Super Jack
  • Patrick Pinney - Chico the Bouncer
  • Gregory Snegoff - Bash
  • Frank Welker - Telephone / Additional Voices


Storyboard by Louise Zingarelli based on Bakshi's original screenplay.

In 1990, Ralph Bakshi decided that it was time to make another animated film. According to Bakshi, "I made 1,500 bucks in 10 years of painting; I thought it would be nice to pick up a piece of change. So I called my lawyer, who was still speaking to me because no one ever leaves Hollywood, and asked him where I should go to sell a movie."[1] Bakshi pitched Cool World to Paramount Pictures (where Bakshi had worked as the final head of the studio's animation division) as an animated horror film. The concept of the film involved a cartoon and human having sex and conceiving a hybrid child who visits the real world to murder the father who abandoned her.[2] Bakshi states that Paramount Pictures "bought the idea in ten seconds".[3]

As the sets were being built in Las Vegas, producer Frank Mancuso, Jr., son of Paramount president Frank Mancuso, Sr., had the screenplay rewritten in secret, and gave Bakshi a new screenplay by screenwriters Michael Grais and Mark Victor that "was barely the same".[2] In interviews at the time of the film's release, Mancuso, Jr., who was best known for the Friday the 13th franchise, stated a desire to move away from horror films, and wanted to produce a film "about what happens when someone creates a world, becomes defined by it, and then can't escape [...] a film about being trapped by your own creation."[1] Bakshi remembers that he got into a fight with Mancuso, Jr. and "punched [him] in the mouth."[4] Paramount threatened Bakshi with a lawsuit if he refused to complete the film. "I thought if I did the animation well, it would be worth it, but you know what? It wasn't worth it."[5] Bakshi also stated that he "had a lot of animators there that I'd brought in and I thought that maybe I could just have fun animating this stuff, which I did."[4]

Bakshi had originally intended to cast Drew Barrymore and Brad Pitt in the film's leading roles. Pitt was cast as Frank Harris instead, with Gabriel Byrne as Deebs and Kim Basinger as Holli.[4] The film's voice cast includes Maurice LaMarche and Charles Adler. According to Bakshi, Basinger had attempted to rewrite the film halfway into its production because she "thought it would be great [...] if she would be able to show this picture in hospitals to sick children [...] I said, 'Kim, I think that's wonderful, but you've got the wrong guy to do that with.' [...] [Mancuso] was sitting there with Kim [...] agreeing with her."[3]

The visual design of the live-action footage was intended to look like "a living, walk-through painting", a visual concept Bakshi had long wanted to achieve. The film's sets were based upon enlargements of designer Barry Jackson's paintings. The animation was strongly influenced by Fleischer Studios (whose cartoons were released by Paramount) and Terrytoons (where Bakshi once worked, and whose Mighty Mouse character was also adapted into a series by Bakshi).[2] The artwork by the character Jack Deebs was drawn by underground comix artist Spain Rodriguez.[6] The film's animators were never given a screenplay, and were instead told by Bakshi to "Do a scene that's funny, whatever you want to do!"[2]

A soundtrack album, Songs from the Cool World, featuring recordings by My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult, Moby, Ministry, The Future Sound of London, and others, was released in 1992 by Warner Bros. Records.[7] It included the track "Real Cool World", a David Bowie song written for the film. The soundtrack received stronger reviews from critics than the film itself, including a four-star rating from Allmusic.[8] Mark Isham's original score for Cool World, featuring a mixture of jazz, orchestral pieces, and electronic remixes, and performed by the Munich Symphony Orchestra, was released on compact disc by Varèse Sarabande. It also received positive reviews.[9][10]

Release and reception

Promotion and merchandising

Jack and Holli.

As part of the film's promotion, the Hollywood Sign was altered to include a 75-foot-tall cutout of Holli Would. The alteration angered local residents.[11][12] In a letter to the city's Recreation and Park Board on Monday, commission officials wrote that they were "appalled" by the board's approval of the alterations and that "the action your board has taken is offensive to Los Angeles women and is not within your role as custodian and guardian of the Hollywood sign. The fact that Paramount Pictures donated a mere $27,000 to Rebuild L.A. should not be a passport to exploit women in Los Angeles."[13] Protestors picketed the unveiling of the altered sign.[13] The promotional campaign was focused on the sex appeal of Holli. It was considered by some experts as misaimed, with Paramount's marketing president Barry London saying "Cool World unfortunately did not seem to satisfy the younger audience it was aimed at," [14] and designer Milton Knight recalling that "Audiences actually wanted a wilder, raunchier Cool World. The premiere audience I saw it with certainly did."[2]

Several different licensed video games based on the film were created by Ocean Software and released for the Amiga, Atari ST, Commodore 64, Game Boy, Nintendo Entertainment System and Super Nintendo.[15] A four-issue comic book prequel to the film was published as a miniseries by DC Comics.[16]


Cool World opened at sixth on the North American box office, with $5,5 million. Its lifetime gross was $14.1 million,[17] much lower than the reported $28 million budget.[1] Critical response towards the film was generally negative. Roger Ebert wrote that Cool World "misses one opportunity after another", describing it as "a surprisingly incompetent film".[18] Deseret News reviewer Chris Hicks described it as "a one-joke movie -- and it's a dirty joke. [...] And much of what's going on here seems more angry and nasty than inspired or funny."[19] Variety reviewer Brian Lowry compared the film to an extended music video, praising the soundtrack and visuals, but panning the story.[20] Leonard Maltin described the film as "too serious to be fun [and] too goofy to take seriously", and the lead characters as "unlikable and unappealing".[21] The Washington Post reviewer Hal Hinson wondered "whether Kim Basinger is more obnoxious as a cartoon or as a real person," and felt that the combination of animation and live action was unconvincing.[22]

In 1997, John Grant wrote in The Encyclopedia of Fantasy that Cool World "stands as one of the fantastic cinema's most significant achievements, an instauration fantasy that reveals greater depths with each viewing."[23] Animation historian Jerry Beck described the film as being "for adults and Bakshi completists only," writing that the film "has a great premise, a great cast, and the best animation he's ever been involved with," but critiquing it as a "pointless rehash of many of Ralph's favorite themes, and the story literally goes nowhere."[24] Film website Rotten Tomatoes, which compiles reviews from a wide range of critics, gives the film a "Rotten" rating of 3%.[25]


  1. ^ a b c Diamond, Jamie (1991-07-05). "Animation's Bad Boy Returns, Unrepentant". The New York Times. Retrieved 2007-03-21. 
  2. ^ a b c d e Gibson, Jon M.; McDonnell, Chris (2008). "Ups & Downs". Unfiltered: The Complete Ralph Bakshi. Universe Publishing. pp. 219; 227. ISBN 0789316846. 
  3. ^ a b "Interview with Ralph Bakshi". IGN. Retrieved 2007-01-10. 
  4. ^ a b c "Rotoscoped Memories: An Interview with Ralph Bakshi". DVD Verdict. 2004-08-02. Retrieved 2007-01-10. 
  5. ^ Rose, Steve (2006-08-11). "Who flamed Roger Rabbit?". London: The Guardian.,,1841791,00.html. Retrieved 2007-01-10. 
  6. ^ "About Spain". Dies Irae. Retrieved 2007-01-10. 
  7. ^ "Cool World soundtrack details". SoundtrackCollector. Retrieved 2007-03-27. 
  8. ^ Mills, Ted. "Review of Songs from the Cool World". Allmusic. Retrieved 2007-03-27. 
  9. ^ Carlsson, Mikael. "Cool World". Music from the Movies. Archived from the original on November 16, 2006. Retrieved 2007-04-02. 
  10. ^ Schelle, Michael (1999). The Score: Interviews with Film Composers. Los Angeles, CA: Silman-James Press. 
  11. ^ Schoch, Deborah (July 6, 1992). "Hollywood Residents Can't Shroud Anger Promotion: Paramount Pictures defends attaching a movie cartoon character to the famous sign. Citizens fear a tourist invasion and say that the landmark is being commercialized.". Los Angeles Times.,+1992&author=DEBORAH+SCHOCH&pub=Los+Angeles+Times+(pre-1997+Fulltext)&desc=Hollywood+Residents+Can't+Shroud+Anger+Promotion:+Paramount+Pictures+def. Retrieved 2008-09-22. 
  12. ^ Associated Press (July 7, 1992). "Cartoon Character Opens Landmark Rift". San Jose Mercury News. Retrieved 2008-09-22. 
  13. ^ a b Chazanov, Mathis (July 7, 1992). "'D' as in Disagreement Cartoon Character Atop Landmark Sign Sets Off Protests". Los Angeles Times.,+1992&author=MATHIS+CHAZANOV&pub=Los+Angeles+Times+(pre-1997+Fulltext)&desc=`D'+as+in+Disagreement+Cartoon+Character+Atop+Landmark+Sign+Sets+Off+Pr. Retrieved 2008-09-22. 
  14. ^ Welkos, Robert W. (September 1, 1992). "Why Three Didn't Live Up to High Hopes". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2008-09-22. 
  15. ^ "Cool World". MobyGames. Retrieved 2007-03-27. 
  16. ^ "Bakshi gallery". Ralph Retrieved 2007-03-27. 
  17. ^ "Cool World (1992)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2011-08-08. 
  18. ^ Ebert, Roger (July 13, 1992). "Review of Cool World". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2007-01-10. 
  19. ^ Hicks, Chris (July 16, 1992). "Review of Cool World". Deseret News. 
  20. ^ Lowry, Brian (July 13, 1992). "Review of Cool World". Variety. Retrieved 2009-11-22. 
  21. ^ Maltin, Leonard (2008). "C". Leonard Maltin's 2009 Movie Guide. Penguin Group. p. 280. ISBN 0452289785. 
  22. ^ Hinson, Hal (July 10, 1992). "Review of Cool World". The Washington Post. 
  23. ^ Grant, John (2001). "Ralph Bakshi". Masters of Animation. Watson-Guptill. p. 28. ISBN 0823030415. 
  24. ^ Beck, Jerry (2005). "Cool World". The Animated Movie Guide. Chicago Review Press. p. 58. ISBN 9781556525919. 
  25. ^ "Cool World (1992)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2007-01-10. 

External links

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Cool World — Título El mundo de Holli (Hispanoamérica) Una rubia entre dos mundos (España) Ficha técnica Dirección Ralph Bakshi Producción Frank Mancuso Jr. Vikki Williams …   Wikipedia Español

  • Cool World — est un film américain réalisé par Ralph Bakshi, sorti en 1992. Sommaire 1 Synopsis 2 Fiche technique 3 Distribution 4 Autour du film …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Cool World — Filmdaten Deutscher Titel Cool World Produktionsland USA …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Cool World (disambiguation) — Cool World may refer to: Cool World (film), 1992 animated film directed by Ralph Bakshi Cool World (soundtrack), from the film Cool World (handheld video game), adapted from the film Cool World (Nintendo Entertainment System video game), also… …   Wikipedia

  • Cool World (Super NES video game) — For other uses, see Cool World (disambiguation). Cool World Cover art Developer(s) Ocean …   Wikipedia

  • Cool World (NES video game) — For other uses, see Cool World (disambiguation). Cool World Cover art Developer(s) Ocean …   Wikipedia

  • Cool World (handheld video game) — For other uses, see Cool World (disambiguation). Cool World Box art Developer(s) Ocean[1] …   Wikipedia

  • Cool World (soundtrack) — For other uses, see Cool World (disambiguation). Songs from the Cool World Soundtrack album by Various Released July 14, 1992 …   Wikipedia

  • Cool World (handheld game) — Infobox VG| title = Cool World developer = publisher = Ocean designer = engine = released = 1993 genre = Action modes = Single player ratings = platforms = Game Boy media = Cartridge requirements = input = A Game Boy Game Pak based on the movie… …   Wikipedia

  • Real Cool World — Infobox Single Name = Real Cool World Caption = Artist = David Bowie from Album = Songs from the Cool World A side = Real Cool World (Edit) B side = Real Cool World (Instrumental) Released = August 1992 Format = 7”/12”/CD single Recorded =… …   Wikipedia

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