Who Framed Roger Rabbit is one of the best films ever made and in that film the world saw real life mixed with animation, really for the first time. It had been done before, for instance in 9 to 5, but not for the whole film. This film tries to do a similar thing that Who Framed Roger Rabbit did, but there’s a glaring problem…they forgot the script! Cool World is just a jumbled mess with a scatter brained plot and I for one was checking the runtime to see how much longer this slog was gonna go on.
Brad Pitt had just come off of his breakout performance in one of my all time favorites, Thelma and Louise, when he chose to star in this and while he is a truly talented actor and I typically love him, he was pretty awful in this. Any actor, even some of the most talented – and Pitt is one of the most talented – can give a poor performance. He just seems wooden and like he’s trying way too hard; there are multiple scenes where his acting is just cringeworthy.
To be fair the script doesn’t provide any of the actors with much but at least Kim Basinger is able to have some good moments. Basinger plays the cartoon turned human very well and in the midst of all the crazy garbage this film throws your way, at least she’s nice to watch. Gabriel Byrne is fine I guess, I mean he has his moments of cringe-worthiness just like Pitt ,but because he’s onscreen less it’s less noticeable. The only other film I’ve seen Byrne in where he had one of the leading roles was Stigmata, so needless to say, so far he doesn’t have a good track record with me.
While the acting is sub par, the REAL issue is this script, if you can even call it that; this thing is a scatterbrained mess! The film has one of the messiest beginnings I think I’ve ever seen. We’re introduced to Pitt’s character in this schlocky way that I guess is supposed to pull at the heartstrings but it’s really just a shamelessly lazy way to try to explain why he’s so hardened and hates the “real world”. This film thinks character development is just telling or briefly showing the audience something bad that happened to someone then bam that’s all you need to know about them. Something bad happened to Pitt one minute after we’re introduced to him so there that’s why he’s this laughably brooding parody of a 40s detective for the remainder of the film.
They try to do the same thing to Byrne’s character. We see that he’s in prison and is then released and I guess that’s supposed to tell us something about him. The problem is that we are never told anything about why he went to prison and his having been in prison doesn’t inform his character at all! They could have just left that out and it wouldn’t have made a difference. Those are just two big examples of how this script is just poorly put together. Then we get to Basinger’s character, who is basically this ridiculously over sexed female version of Pinocchio. All she wants is to be “real”. Her scheming to be real is the basic plot of Cool World and the film can’t even do that in an entertaining smooth way.
After wasting a bunch of time introducing us to these useless characters and then having to watch a bunch of shenanigans go on with the “doodles” in Cool World, then we finally get to the basic plot. By the time the plot starts to move forward, they’ve already failed because they haven’t given us good characters and they’ve wasted about half the runtime on stuff that doesn’t matter. The rest of the film is just this cast trying their best not to make even worse fools of themselves and it’s sad to see. I only have two positive things to say about Cool World. One is the animation, the animation is actually “cool” to look for the most part, if only there were characters and a story to go with it! The other thing is that Basinger does have a few good moments, she’s the only one that is able to break through this sh**ty script for a moment or two.
It’s so sad because this film could have been great like Who Framed Roger Rabbit but it failed to replicate what made that film so great, which was a well written script with well developed characters.