Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Cool World

US live-action/Animated Movie (1992). Paramount. Pr Frank Mancuso Jr. Dir Ralph Bakshi. Screenplay Michael Grais, Mark Victor. Starring Michele Abrams (Jennifer), Kim Basinger (Holli Would), Gabriel Byrne (Jack Deebs), Brad Pitt (Frank Harris). Voice actors Basinger, Byrne and Pitt plus Charles Adler (Nails), Joey Camen (Slash), Michael David Lally (Sparks), Maurice LaMarche (Doc Whiskers, Mash), Candi Milo (Bob, Lonette), Gregory Snegoff (Bash). 99 mins. Colour.

Comics-artist Deebs has created the Cool World, a place populated by grotesque Doodles – at least, he believes he has created it, but in fact the Cool World is an Alternate Reality which must forever remain separate from ours if the cosmic balance is to be upheld. One Noid (as humans are known there), Harris, has made the crossing to the Cool World, swapping existences with Doc Whiskers, the Doodle who invented the Spike of Power that made this exchange possible. Now Holli, a nymphomaniac Doodle whom Deebs thinks he has created as the epitome of his own lusts, desires to cross from the Cool World into our Reality so that she may experience sex in the flesh. Once here she seizes the Spike of Power, opening a Pandora's Box from which the Cool World's grotesques spring nightmarishly. Deebs succeeds in replacing the Spike and negating the threat of universal chaos, but at the cost of himself becoming a comic-strip Superhero pent forever with a vengeful Holli.

CW stands as one of the fantastic Cinema's most significant achievements, an Instauration Fantasy that reveals greater depths with each viewing. It is also something of a landmark in Animated Movies: while the live-action/animation junction is less surely handled than in the comparable Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988), the manic creativity of CW's animation probably has no peer, with visual grotesqueries and inventiveness – often totally irrelevant to the plot – seemingly threatening to spill out of the screen and into our laps: the climactic scenes of the Doodles pouring into our world are merely confirmation of what has been happening throughout the movie. Many of these nonce-creations are Recursive, with characters differing from their originals by only the width of a breach-of-copyright suit, plus Parodies: of "That's All Folks" in the movie's finale, of Ghostbusters (1984) as the Doodles stream out from the Spike of Power, and, perhaps rather spitefully, of the opening sequence of Disney's The Rescuers Down Under (1990), culminating in a seedy jail rather than in the romantic shade of Ayer's Rock. The depiction of the Cool World itself is also of interest: from its bizarre architectures and constant thrum of frenetic activity arise a different world that is completely realized – almost claustrophobically so. [JG]

This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.