First and foremost, it is essential to say Cool World is not Who Framed Roger Rabbit? In any sense. Aside from both films blending live-action and 2-D animation and featuring detectives (Brad Pitt and Bob Hoskins, respectively), they are two different entities and should not be compared to one another.
The main rule of the film is the worlds of Cool World, a land of doodles (animated characters) and the real world are typically not supposed to mix. Frank Harris’ appearance in Cool World is the result of an accident and he goes on to become a detective for the town.
Cool World is a film without a protagonist. One could argue Brad Pitt’s Frank Harris to be the main character, but Cool World belongs to Kim Basinger’s Holli Would just as much. Basinger as the doodle Holli Would is a seductive and manipulative character, using anyone and doing anything to get what she wants, a chance to go to the human world, including comic artist Jack Deebs, played by Gabriel Byrne. Each has a hand in the pot and their own arcs, but none take precedence over the other.
The cast is colorful and fun. Holli Would is a pin-up dream girl with a sultry voice and demeanor. This can be said for her doodle form. As a human, she loses some of those features, including her voice and dialect, giving a jarring portrayal and wonder if it is the same person. Frank Harris is a cool, no nonsense type who does his best to keep order, even at the cost of his personal relationships. Giving Frank this inner conflict is a great way to exhibit his character traits, which only grow a bit tiresome but not much. Jack is the weakest of the three leads, with his only purpose being to be manipulated by Holli. The film tries to make his character interesting, but this only damages his character, making him rather annoying. However, one cannot help but feel bad for the guy.
The plot is not barebones, but it all stems from Holli’s plot to get to the real world. There is no real purpose for her going once her intentions for what she wants to do there are revealed. The presentation and setting do not make much sense. Nonetheless, watching everything play out is a total trip and coherent enough to enjoy. Bakshi’s blending of live action and 2-D animation almost always look extravagant. There are only one or two scenes where it does not work particularly well, but it can be overlooked. Another reason the film works so well is the score, mixing 90s grit and aesthetic not pushing to be more than the head bop it is.