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 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 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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
Noids 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 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.
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.
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.
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.
When the cartoon chaos is ensuing in the city, Jennifer morphs into a doodle that looks a lot like Little Orphan Annie.
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.
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.