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Cool World  

Several years ago, I saw Cool World with some friends at a free open-air theater. We were overcharged.

To this day it remains my standard for bad movies, against which all others are measured and none have yet managed to match. The plot, if I can use that term without mangling the definition of the word, involves a cartoonist who draws comic books about a "Cool World" of sort of gritty, stylized characters -- vaguely Frank Miller meets R. Crumb.

He discovers that this world actually exists when he gets pulled into it by one of his characters, Holli Wood (yes). Already living there is another human who got there via some terribly-explained process after an unmotivated and irrelevant scene at the beginning of the film; he acts as a kind of policeman, whose purpose is apparently to prevent the cartoons from having sex with humans (yes).

Holli Wood's purpose in bringing the cartoonist to this world, of course, is to have sex with him. And of course they do, and she turns into a human, and they go back to the human world, and then cartoony things start happening; and then the movie, to make a long story short, gets all screwed up and then suddenly ends.

The style is pretty awful too; poorly-motivated events keep happening, random acts of animation constantly disrupt the action, and the mood keeps changing abruptly and drastically. We postulated that the script was written by half a dozen competitive screenwriters, all drinking, each of whom would grab the script in turn and scribble down a few lines, before another one with a totally different vision of what the movie should be managed to get the script away from the last. The result is not pretty.

And don't get me started about the end series of climactic scenes, in which all hell breaks loose for no apparent reason; one of my friends commented "Up until now, the writers have only been drinking a _little_ bit!" The only possible motivation I can think of for making this thing was the success of Who Framed Roger Rabbit?. Don't think they're anything like each other. They both have human and cartoon characters interacting, and that's it.

And how did they get Brad Pitt for this movie, Kim Basinger, Gabriel Byrne? Didn't any of them or their agents actually read the script? Or did they just think "Roger Rabbit, popular, box office good!"? There are two kinds of bad movies. There are the old, low-budget ones, that are so poor they're enjoyable to watch (the archetype of this category is Plan 9 from Outer Space). Then there are the thankfully fewer that are modern, glossy, high-budget, with big-name stars, that seem like they've got everything going for them yet turn out to be just horribly painful to watch. Cool World is the true king of that category. Long may it reign. Please.

Justin Werfel

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