Welcome to the animated Dark City
. Hope you enjoy your stay!
"Around here, anything goes. Anything goes except one thing...Noids do not have sex with Doodles!"
— Frank Harris
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 voluptuous vixen 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
which is Lighter and Softer
and involves more notable Toons
This film provides examples of:
- 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.
- Alpha Bitch: Holli Would, without a doubt.
- Ascended Extra: Cast-wise, a pregnant Candi Milo was originally only there to feed lines to the main cast, but was impressive enough to voice two distinctive characters. She's gone on to become one of the premiere voice actors in the biz, and her career is the only success to come from this movie.
- As You Know: Instead of a more dramatic flashback, this is exactly 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.
- Big Bra to Fill: Holli Would as a Doodle has larger breasts than Kim Basinger. When the characters becomes human, her breasts shrinks 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 will get evil if she sees fit.
- Can't Have Sex, Ever: Frank and Lonette. Subverted in the end, where he becomes a Doodle and the 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 (Not that he would anyway). Wow.
- Cloudcuckooland: Unlike most Toon worlds, it's dark and hellish, quite often verging on an Eldritch Location.
- Cluster F-Bomb: Harris to Jack in the real world.
- Crapsack World: Cool World is a hellish cesspool of violent "lesser" toons mixed in with realistic looking horrors. The human-like Doodles are about the only sane things in it, and even they (Sparks, Holli Would) tend to be quite nasty.
- Creepy Crossdresser: Bob, one of Holli's goons.
- 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.
- Deranged Animation: It's filled with psychotic looking Toons who almost all are violent and insane, living in a hellish looking city filled with Body Horror-eque buildings, mixed in with uncanny looking monstrosities; a good example being Holli's door, whose skull is constantly pushing itself out of its head.
- 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.
- 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, Mash, Bash, and Bob.
- Groin Attack: Two times, one to Jack and one to Harris, by Holli.
- Grotesque Cute: Nails, Toons when they're not acting Ax-Crazy, most anyway.
- Hardboiled Detective: Frank Harris.
- He Didn't Make It: Nails tells this to Lonette after Holli pushes Frank off the Union Plaza hotel.
- High Concept: Cool World is built on pure, unadulterated Rule of Cool, desperately seeking a plot.
- Humanity Ensues
- Humans Are Bastards: Frank's reason for not wanting to leave Cool World. Having gone through World War II and seeing firsthand that War Is Hell 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 may be in a constant state of chaos, murder, destruction, depravity, and abuse, but there is no lasting death, and no pain.
Frank Harris: Let me tell you something about "over there." It hurts "over there." It-it's lonely "over there." It's a war "over there." They got eight million ways for you to die, hon, and all of them are permanent.
- The Immodest Orgasm: Holli, of course, right before she turned human.
- Indecisive Deconstruction: The original idea for the film was supposed to show how Interspecies Romance and Perverse Sexual Lust can go horribly wrong.
- Ink-Suit Actor: Holli Would was tweaked to look more like Kim Basinger.
- Meaningful Name: "Holli Would would if she could but she can't."
- Medium Blending: Of regular Toon animation and realistic looking horrors.
- Mood Whiplash: The film goes straight from Frank's mother's death to a slapstick sequence.
- Ms. Fanservice: ...Guess!
- Also Lonette would qualify.
- Non-Human Sidekick: Nails the Spider.
- Non-Standard Character Design: While it does inflict a Darker and Edgier Roger Rabbit Effect of Toons and humans, it also includes disturbingly realistic looking abominations like Holli's door-knocker.
- Not So Different: Frank and Jack both prefer the fantastic anarchism of the Cool World to the Real World. But while Frank is willing to restrain himself to keep from destroying it, Jack jumps headfirst into something that could end up destroying both worlds.
- Odd Name Out: Holli's goons are Slash, Mash, Bash... and Bob.
- 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 Medium: 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 the subject, and may be the only major Hollywood production to deal with the subject.
- Pinocchio Syndrome: The movie revolves around the toon ("doodles" per the movie's parlance) villainess Holli Would's obsession with becoming a human woman and experience everything the "noids" can. She has to break the one law of Toonworld to accomplish this: have sex with one of them. She eventually succeeds, but the worlds start to converge and turns into a chaotic anarchy as a result.
- Private Detective: Frank Harris, again.
- Punny Name: Holli Would = Hollywood. A pun old enough that Parliament had already used it in the song "Holly Wants to Go to California" thirteen years earlier.
- The Renaissance Age of Animation: It's one of the few animated films that wasn't aimed for kids during this time.
- Roger Rabbit Effect: A Darker and Edgier version of this.
- 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 the roiling chaos of cartoon insanity with distinct sexual overtones. If you can't conclude that Jack Deebs is Ralph Bakshi, then you're not watching the film right.
- Shell-Shocked Veteran: Frank has a very brief war flashback after the accident.
- Sitting Sexy on a Piano: Holli at one point.
- 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 like Bimbo, while another scene of the movie had a big character that looked like Bluto (from Popeye).
- When the doodles realize what Holli is about to do with Jack, a Toon rabbit says, "Man is in the bedroom." Sounds a lot like "Man was in the forest", a line from Bambi.
- After the Goons plummet from the building, the camera zooms into his mouth and for a brief moment, one can see a man and a wooden puppet on a raft. Pinocchio reference, for sure.
- In the climax where the Toons enter the real world after Holli pulls out the Spike of Power, there's a scene in a graveyard similar to the "Night on Bald Mountain" segment in Fantasia where Toons fly out of graves and some fly through a hangman's noose.
- A group of men turn into Dogs Playing Poker.
- When the cartoon chaos is ensuing in the city, Jennifer morphs into a doodle that looks a lot like Little Orphan Annie.
- A character that looks like Fearless Leader from Rocky and Bullwinkle walks by.
- The superhero that Jack turns into is a lot like Superman.
- 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!
- Toon Physics: And like the rest of the movie, it's deranged and psychotic.
- Toon Town: The titular Cool World, although it far more resembles Dark City than the bright and cheery (but also crapsaccharine in its own way) Toon Town of Who Framed Roger Rabbit.
- The film originally contained a locale called "Sweet Place", where the more family-friendly, Disney-esque toons lived, that played the trope straight. The only remaining references to it are one of Harris' nicknames for Holli and a brief scene in the comic adaptation.
- 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?
- Vapor Wear: Holli won't wear something that doesn't reveal a majority of her body.
- 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 knock-off of Who Framed Roger Rabbit. 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.