When I say that I love bad movies – and I truly do love bad movies – I’m not talking about your Sharknados, your Transmorphers, your Mega Sharks versus Giant Octopi. For me there’s no fun in watching those movies because they aren’t bad by accident – being bad is their whole schtick. If you want to have a really good time watching a bad movie, you need to find one where it’s clear that at some point during production, at least one person was absolutely convinced they were making a movie that the world needed to see. Halfassing a shitty movie on purpose is boring; setting a high bar and falling far short of it is good fun.
At least, that was my belief until last week, when I watched what is without question the worst movie on Netflix, and possibly Earth. This is a bad movie that a number of rich, famous, and powerful people believed in very strongly, a movie that fell far short of whatever it was supposed to be, but it could not be further removed from good fun. The movie was made in 1992, and it is called Cool World.
If you want to have a good time watching a bad movie, you should not watch Cool World. If you want to have a generally good and happy life, free of any undue anguish or suffering, you should not watch Cool World. No one should watch Cool World. Animals should not watch Cool World. I would not show Cool World to my worst enemy. Cool World is an enhanced interrogation technique. Cool World is the video in The Ring.Cool World contains substances known to the state of California to cause birth defects. Cool World is vast, angry darkness without end.
Also, Brad Pitt is in it.
Cool World is plainly a knockoff of Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, except that while Roger Rabbit was consistently fun and appealing, Cool Worldis like a Frankenstein monster of things nobody likes stitched together into the shape of a movie. It's too dark and raunchy for children and too incomprehensible and sleazy for adults - but I guess it’s a bonanza for people who get sexually aroused by cartoons, for what that's worth.
You see, Cool World is a movie about exactly one thing, and that one thing is humans having sex with cartoon characters.
And I don’t mean that’s just a subplot or a running gag or something that characters talk about – the entire plot of the movie is Brad Pitt trying to stop Gabriel Byrne from having sex with a cartoon vamp voiced by Kim Basinger. And when (spoiler alert) it happens, you see an awful lot of it happening, and from the choppy editing I suspect there had been a lot more there until some sane person had it taken out.
Let me point out that this was not some overambitious student film. Paramount Pictures spent $28 million making this movie about cartoons and humans fucking. There was a tie-in video game for Super NES. They even installed a 75 foot tall cutout of Kim Basinger’s character on the Hollywood Sign. Executives who get paid millions of dollars to determine whether a movie will be good or not felt very strongly that this movie would be good.
The gist of it is that there exists a world populated by crudely drawn and animated cartoons (“doodles”) called Cool World, and in the 1940s Brad Pitt gets sucked into it by way of a portal that opens for seemingly no reason. Unlike Toon Town, which had a whimsical sort of internal logic, most inhabitants of Cool World seem to spend every moment of their lives either hitting each other on the head with sledgehammers or having anvils dropped on them. Gabriel Byrne plays an incarcerated cartoonist who, 50 years later, gets lured into Cool World by blonde doodle temptress Holli Would.
There seems to be only one rule or governing principle in Cool World, and that’s that humans (“noids”) aren’t allowed to have sex with doodles, because for some reason that makes doodles turn into noids, and for some reason that’s bad. Holli, who desperately wants to be human, plans to seduce Gabriel Byrne so she can enter the real world.
Over the past 50 years Brad Pitt has become a detective whose job is to keep noids and doodles from getting busy, which seems like both a poor use of Cool World taxpayer funds and a pretty serious conflict of interest seeing as Brad Pitt has a cartoon girlfriend who, like every woman in this movie, spends most of her time trying to seduce him. Still, he diligently abstains from sex with her, but despite his best efforts he fails to cockblock Gabriel Byrne. Holli enters the real world, transforms into Kim Basinger, and tries to take over the world with an army of doodles. Gabriel Byrne turns into a doodle and stops her, Brad Pitt turns into a doodle and can finally have sex with his girlfriend, and on that wholesome, cheerful note, the movie finally ends.
Any movie can have a nonsense script, bad acting, and glaring technical difficulties – SyFy Channel has been churning them out for years. What sets Cool World apart from the bad movie pack is that it doesn’t settle for simply being an affront to good filmmaking; it’s also an affront to basic human decency. The movie takes every opportunity to be sleazy, cruel, and misogynistic, to the point that I started to wonder if maybe the Men’s Rights movement was started by guys who saw Cool World at an impressionable age. There’s one scene in particular where everything wrong about this movie is firing on all cylinders:
Early on, Detective Brad Pitt visits Holli Would at her house, where, as usual, she’s doing a provocative dance. He questions her about Gabriel Byrne’s recent appearance in Cool World. and cautions her against having sex with Gabriel Byrne. She protests, sucking Brad Pitt’s fingertips and humping conveniently placed pillars as she giggles and coos about how she wants to see what sex is like for real women.
Brad Pitt shuts her up by roughly shoving her to the ground a couple times, then gives her one last charming piece of advice – “Keep your legs crossed and forget about the real world!” Watching him exit, Holli then defiantly opens her legs as wide as she can while a group of cartoon wolves appear out of nowhere to catcall her. That's not the sort of .gif I want to embed on my blog, but if you think I'm making this shit up, click here to lose a piece of your humanity.
I’ve been wracking my brain all week trying to think of who looked at this scene – first on the page, then while it was being animated, then in post production – and said, “Oh yeah, people are going to LOVE this! Look at this movie we’re making, so full of nice things that people want to see.” Someone was aware that the world had not yet seen Brad Pitt roughing up a cartoon nymphomaniac, and decided that that needed to change.
The fun part about watching bad movies is questioning their bewildering artistic choices, but with Cool World those questions will take you to some pretty dark places. So stay well away. Watch anything else. Maybe even watch a good movie. Just don’t watch Cool World.