Friday, 4 December 2009

Why ‘Cool World’ turned out badly....

Article by Ruth Hueneke

I have to start off by apologising to the readers. This is, of course, the extension to the quick article I wrote about why ‘Cool World’ should be remade. My apology is for the delay in getting this article written up. You see, my hope is that after reading the quick summary in The Courier, readers will then come to this website to read my more detailed arguments.

The writer and director of this movie is a man called Ralph Bakshi. ‘Who’s he?’ you might ask. In the 70s he established himself as an independent animator, debuting in 1972 with ‘Fritz the Cat’, which was the first animated feature film to get rated X in the US. Not all his films were aimed at adults though, as demonstrated by ‘Wizards’, and then by his most well known work: the animated ‘Lord of the Rings’. Throughout most of the 80s he laid low, staying out of the movie industry.

After about 10 years out of the business, Bakshi decided to re-enter it. He was inspired to do a live action/animated hybrid horror story and even wanted it to be rated R. The basic premise of his script was that an underground comic artist created the graphic novel ‘Cool World’. Portraying the idea that an artist can never escape his work, ‘Cool World’ deals with cartoon characters (‘doodles’) that live alongside humans (‘noids’).

Allegedly Paramount bought the script within 10 minutes and Frank Mancuso JR. was assigned to the project as producer. Mancuso’s previous production work was every single ‘Friday the 13th’ sequel, so he was believed to be the perfect man for the job. Well actually, Mancuso wanted to be involved in a different genre and this motivation led to bad blood between him and director Bakshi.

First of all, before even shooting, Bakshi and Mancuso had heated telephone conversations. One argument was over casting: Bakshi wanted up-and-coming stars to act in the movie whilst Mancuso was looking for established actors so that the movie would attract more spectators. In the end Gabriel Byrne and Kim Basinger were assigned the lead roles in the production, and Bratt Pitt got to portray the newly created character Frank Harris.

There were no doubt plenty more arguments and compromises, but Bakshi still believed he had creative control. He was in charge of the animation studios and even personally chose the animators. On the first day of shooting he went to the set and learned something unbelievable: Mancuso had secretly hired 2 writers to completely rewrite the script. Bakshi was so furious that after effectively a shouting match with the producer, he punched Mancuso and left the set. The rewritten script, and consequently the finished product, was far from the original. Determined to ditch the movie, Bakshi came into conflict with Paramount President Mancuso SR who threatened to sue Bakshi if the film would not be completed. Consequently ‘Cool World’ was released in August 1992 in America with a rating deemed suitable for teenagers and turned out to be a gigantic flop.

Being in sole control of the animation, Bakshi worked hard (despite the messed up-script) to make cool world look…well, cool, as well as somewhat intimidating and disturbing. He even encouraged his creative team to put in their own elements, so the ‘doodles’ come in all shapes, sizes, animal types and animation styles. It also meant having the movie suddenly pause while we watch strange animated sketches.

If you’re truly curious enough to see this movie, you can click here. []

If you’d rather stick with a more in-depth review, feel free to watch this []. Only lasts about 20 minutes or so.

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