Picks and Pans Review: Cool World

updated 07/27/1992 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 07/27/1992 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Gabriel Byrne, Kim Basinger

The first movie in close to a decade from cartoonist Ralph Bakshi (Fritz the Cat), this blend of animation and live action is a ramshackle mess. Coming four years after Who Framed Roger Rabbit, which mixed actors and animation with such ingenuity, it is almost unpardonable.

A comic-book character named Holli Would, who looks like a '50s Playboy cartoon, longs to escape into three-dimensional life. To accomplish that, though, she has to make love to Byrne, the artist who created her and the setting she inhabits, a nightmarish urban landscape called Cool World.

The depiction of the human-cartoon interaction is primitive—and if you expect to see a 2-D bimbo have explicit sex with a 3-D guy, forget it. Worse, Bakshi has crowded the screen with other denizens of Cool World, an eye-wearying army of scabrous, drooling, pop-eyed critters who swarm about like june bugs on acid.

Bakshi has a few inspired notions: The skyline of Cool World suggests Pinocchio's Pleasure Island blended into modern New York City, and there are vivid minutes toward the end when the cartoons escape Cool World and come roaring out in a hellish swirl that suggests a possible parody of Fantasia's "Night on Bald Mountain." Cool World also has one memorably odd scene: Basinger, who provides Holli's voice and then plays her humanized version, sings Let's Make Love with Frank Sinatra Jr.

Back to the drawing board, everyone. (PG-13)

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