Reader Request – Cool World: Too Inane To Hate

A family member requested that I review this, or I never would watch this again.

SUMMARY

In 1945, WWII Vet Frank Harris (Brad Pitt) arrives back from the war and takes his mother (Janni Brenn-Lowen) for a ride on a motorcycle. He crashes, killing his mother, but before he dies he is transported to an animated world called the “Cool World,” by Dr. Vincent Whiskers (Maurice LaMarche). The movie then jumps to 1992 where cartoonist Jack Deebs (Gabriel Byrne) is in prison for murdering a man who was sleeping with his wife. Jack is a creator and illustrator of a comic strip which is also called “Cool World,” starring a femme fatale named Holli Would (Kim Basinger). He frequently has visions of himself going to Cool World, culminating in Holli pulling him into the world through the pages of his comic. Jack is confronted by Frank, who is now apparently Cool World law enforcement. There is only one rule in Cool World, and that’s that “noids” (humans) don’t have sex with “doodles” (animated characters). This puts a strain on Frank’s relationship with his girlfriend Lonette (Candi Milo).

So much LSD went into this scene.

Despite Jack believing he created Cool World, Frank tells Jack that Cool World is older than Jack is. Holli Would is one of the most powerful figures in Cool World, but she wants out. The only way to get out is to break the law and have sex with a human, so she seduces Jack and is turned into a real person. She and Jack head to the real world, where it’s revealed that they’re both now part doodle and part noid. Holli tells Jack about the “spike of power,” an object that controls the barrier between the two worlds which is now atop a Vegas casino. When Jack doubts the story of the spike, Holli abandons him. 

Kim Basinger somehow underplays a live-action 2-D character.

Frank follows the pair into the real world and tries to stop Holli, who kills him. Holli seizes the spike and the barrier between Cool World and the real world start breaking down, unleashing doodles into the real world. Jack turns himself into a cartoon superhero and returns the spike, restoring the worlds and sending Jack and Holli back to Cool World as doodles. Frank is apparently turned into a doodle because he was killed by a doodle, so he can finally date Lonette. 

END SUMMARY

As much as I would love to tell you all how much I despise this ridiculous, nonsensical, bordering on pointless film, I can’t. It’s so difficult to figure out what the film was going for and what part of the process tanked it that I can’t bring myself to be angry, only confused and annoyed at having to watch it. 

Angry and confused is a common emotion in this film.

This movie has a notoriously bad production history with a huge number of rumors arising about the various people involved. A big part of that is that director Ralph Bakshi is, at best, very eccentric and, at worst, bordering on delusional. He has produced some of the most distinct animated work of the past century, including Wizards, Fritz the Cat, American Pop, and Heavy Traffic (possibly his best film that doesn’t get enough recognition). If you’ve seen any of those movies, though, you know they’re not the product of a well mind. While he is the guy who was right about the possibility of making a film based around elves discovering Nazi propaganda, he’s also the kind of guy who would think of that premise in the first place. Putting him in charge of any project is playing with fire, but in this case, everyone at the studio apparently decided to pour gasoline for good measure. 

Admit it, he looks like the crazy uncle who shows up for Thanksgiving.

The original pitch for the movie by writers Michael Grais and Mark Victor (who wrote Poltergeist) was about an imprisoned artist who creates a comic series that makes him an underground comics star. He then has sex with one of his creations and spawns a half-animated, half-human child, who grows up to seek revenge on his parents. It was supposed to be a hard-R horror film that was in the vein of Who Framed Roger Rabbit, which had only just come out. Rather than just animation and live-action blending, Bakshi decided that he wanted the film to look like a living painting, ordering elaborate sets and backgrounds to be built for the movie while he worked on the screenplay, which the studio now wanted to be PG-13. However, and the following is based solely on Bakshi’s statements and unconfirmed, apparently on the first day of filming he was handed a script that was completely different than what he had worked on. Subsequently, in the middle of filming, Kim Basinger tried to have the movie re-written to be a PG film so that she could show it to kids, but Bakshi refused to tone it down further. While almost everything Bakshi has claimed is heavily disputed, it would explain a lot about this movie if it was being crafted by a number of sources fighting against each other. 

The backgrounds are often amazing. Look at those paintings. Many of them were real.

Everything about this movie is a giant mess, almost all of which seems to be because nobody could agree on what the plot was supposed to be, what the rules of the world are, or whether or not the audience should be able to follow it. Half the time it feels like the movie just starts pulling stuff out of its ass because time is running out, the other half it feels like the entire point was that someone wanted Jessica Rabbit to ride Gabriel Byrne like a 10 dollar stud. We don’t know exactly how people get in or out of Cool World, except for Frank being pulled in by the spike, we don’t know any character’s motivations except for Holli wanting to orgasm her way into reality, and we have no idea what the hell the spike is or why it apparently needs to be stuck in the top of a building in Vegas. Every time we’re given a hint about any of these things, like that people have been pulled in by Holli before Jack, they just raise even more questions. 

Also, she says she doesn’t “feel real,” so… is she like an animation cell?

Then there’s the Cool World itself, which either looks like a really well done painting, a great animated setting, or a shitty last-second sketch by a Senior who got drunk and forgot his final project is due. There’s a statement from some of the background animators on the film that they weren’t actually given a screenplay, they were just told to draw stuff that seemed funny, which explains why there are constantly random things happening in the background. Now, the idea of a cartoon world that obeys the rules of crazy old-school animation like Betty Boop, where everything is moving or alive or just defying all reason would be kind of neat, but the film never does anything with it. It’s even more annoying because the Cool World is described as a place where there are no rules, aside from the one rule, so it should be dirty, crazy, and filled with murder and perversion. That sounds closer to what Bakshi originally said he wanted, and that might at least have been entertaining in its audacity. Instead, it feels like what an 11 year old boy thought was the ultimate in adult stuff before the internet existed: There’s a hot lady with boobs and a bunch of swears and sex involves her bouncing on you while you’re both fully clothed.

I mean, random background sex cats. Which would be a good band name.

Then there’s the third act, where everything somehow becomes even more incoherent. Brad Pitt’s character is killed off in a tragically bad stunt for no reason, Gabrielle Byrne suddenly literally gets kicked out of the movie to become an animated character voiced by someone else, and Holli decides to help destroy the barrier between the worlds, something that is completely different than anything she wanted before. Even for a movie with tragically stupid character motives, everything just seems to randomly shift to a completely different movie so that they can just end it, which, honestly, was probably what everyone making the movie felt about the situation by that point. 

Also, killing a human makes them a toon, so… why didn’t she kill him before now?

Despite all of the crap, the movie does have some good points. Some of the animation in the film is actually really great. Some of the concepts in the movie are interesting enough that they should actually get a movie. The soundtrack is actually really great, including having an original song by David Freaking Bowie. The voices for the animated characters include some great voice actors like Maurice LaMarche and Charlie Adler, all of whom do good work. However, this is looking for a nugget of gold in a shallow river of trash. 

David Bowie, I miss you.

Overall, I can’t say that I hate this movie, because I think I would have to feel more about it to even get to that point. The weird thing is that I think everyone should actually watch it just to get an idea of what it looks like when a movie has so much potential and then squanders it spectacularly. Unfortunately, it is not free on any f*cking streaming service, so you’ll have to rent it.

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.

Deadpool 2: It’s a Good Day to Live Free or Deadpool Harder with a Vengeance (Spoiler-Free)

SpoilerFree

Guess who’s back. Back again? Deadpool’s back. Tell a friend.

Deadpool2WithoutMeEdit

There, I wrote the marketing for Deadpool 3. Or 5. The movie’s going to be the highest-grossing comedy sequel by the end of the year, so I think it’s fair to say that, despite Ryan Reynolds’s statements to the contrary, this series is going to keep going until the sun burns out or the money dries up. And, honestly, maybe it won’t be bad if it does, because this series does, potentially, have the kind of set-up to subvert all the usual signs of sequel decline. This movie didn’t quite do that, but the best scenes in it were born out of trying to, and that’s promising.

Deadpool2Speed2.png
Some attempts don’t quite go as well.

So, this movie isn’t quite as good as the original, but, let’s be honest, that’s a really high bar to overcome. Deadpool was an amazing film and had some elements that really weren’t in films before in that exact method of expression. Films and Television have been breaking the fourth wall for years, but the way Deadpool does it is pretty unique. He’s not just interacting with the audience, he’s interacting with the film-making process, with Hollywood productions, and with viewer expectations. It’s basically a meta-smorgasbord, surrounded by some hilarious jokes and jam-packed with references and awesome action scenes. Also nudity.

Deadpool2Feminism
Also Feminism?

This movie continues all of that, but, like all sequels, needed to really push it further or subvert it in this movie to feel new again. Unlike most sequels, though, this movie’s aware of that and either mocks it or calls Hollywood out for it. When it does this correctly, this movie is as funny as any film. When it doesn’t do it right, it just comes off as a typical sequel, but since it’s a sequel to Deadpool, that’s still pretty great.

The premise of the movie is that Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds) ends up caring for a mutant kid named Russell (Julian Dennison) who is being hunted by the time-traveling mutant Cable (Josh “Marvel gives me a busload of money” Brolin). Since Cable is pretty much a one-man wrecking crew, Deadpool forms a crack team of Marvel properties (and one regular guy named Peter, because why the hell not?) which he names “X-Force,” because X-Men is sexist and Marvel already had the trademark. There are about 6 of them, but the only one that matters is Domino (Zazie “My name is almost as awesome as I am” Beetz), a mercenary whose power is “Being Really Really Really Lucky.” Her scenes are amazing, both because she keeps up with Deadpool’s comedy through her own disaffected delivery of sarcastic retorts and because she kicks an amount of ass which is measured in “metric f*ckton.”

Deadpool2Cast.jpg

What’s really ballsy about the movie is that, though he’s the one Deadpool is opposing, Cable really isn’t the “villain.” We find out his (pretty intentionally generic) motivation, and from that point, he isn’t even really an antihero. Honestly, in some movies, he’d be the hero. The movie does have characters who are irredeemably bad, but they’re relatively minor. Most of the characters that are “antagonists” are just people who have justifiable reasons for what they’re doing, even the bad things. For a superhero film, which typically has to frame the bad guy as being an overblown force of nastiness or someone who is just naturally prone to evil, this is a pretty heavy subversion.

Deadpool2Hela
As opposed to “evil because… evil?”

Another surprising thing is how often the movie actually stops mocking something for a few minutes and actually does a sincere scene of real emotional value. It gives those moments even more of an impact because they’re contrasted with the other times in the movie where they ridicule those same scenes. If you’d told me I might actually have a moment of emotional connection in the sequel to Deadpool, I’d have never believed it, since the closest the first movie really had was the montage of his relationship up until he leaves. Granted, the whole cancer scene did hit me where I live, but that’s personal.

Now, there are some downsides to the movie. First, there is definitely a pacing problem in the movie. There are entire scenes where I just had to ask “why wasn’t this cut” because they were not extremely funny, emotional, or plot-related. Now, the movie had several other scenes that felt like they were supposed to be plot-building or character introduction, only for the film to hilariously destroy the relevance of the scene later. Those scenes worked fine, because they’re part of the movie’s subversive humor, but that really makes the ones that aren’t seem even slower and more pointless. Still, there aren’t that many, and the jokes within the scenes are still funny. Second, when you’re shooting jokes and references at the audience at the speed that this movie does, not all of them land. At one point, Deadpool himself calls part of the film “lazy writing,” and it’s funny, but also the obvious joke, because other shows and movies have made the same statement about time-travel movies. It doesn’t matter much, though, because for any joke that doesn’t land, another one comes in 15 seconds. At other points, you might miss one because you’re still laughing at the last 3, too.

Deadpool2EasterEggs.jpg
Unsurprising when you’re willing to throw this many references in a teaser.

And the ending. Oh, my god, the ending. I’m not sure exactly what the Deadpool canon is, but the way they end this film is so brilliant, they could start the next movie in an entirely different universe and it would make sense, while still being among the funniest scenes in the entire film.

Overall, if you liked the first one, see this film.

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All Time or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.