The difference that is immediately noticeable between Cool World and Roger Rabbit is the look of the animation. Robert Zemeckiss influences on Roger Rabbit came from the Disney and Warner Brothers; Ralph Bakshi comes from an independent animation background where he was inspired by the look of underground cartoons the film has a wilder and zanier look than Roger Rabbit and the characters are less cutely anthropomorphic and nice. The foregrounds and backgrounds of the film are packed to the brim with bizarre cartoon incident characters taking splatterings and ultra-violent pratfalls all directed with a giddying kinesis that never lets up. The city is a dizzying scape of corkscrew buildings, pretzel-shaped transit systems and structures that seem to perpetually defy gravity. Even more remarkable are the sets that are actually built as opposed to drawn a mind-boggling series of arabesque flats that exist in two-dimensions.
What disappoints about the film is the relatively crude animation. With Roger Rabbit the animators went to the extent of painstakingly drawing in shadows and smoothing over connections between live and drawn film, but here the artwork seems merely laid over the live-action. The people and the animated characters frustratingly never seem to connect when the humans and the Doodles touch the movements only seem to be approximate, never act in synch.
The film does have the major benefit of Kim Basinger. There are few actresses better suited to playing the part of a cartoon made flesh than Basinger with her perfect figure and her underrated abilities as a comic actress. The film goes even so far as to play upon the frequent comparisons made between Basinger and Marilyn Monroe. Unfortunately, once he brings Basinger into the flesh, Bakshi makes precious little use of her. Gabriel Byrne gives a non-performance, seemingly flabbergasted by having to play second fiddle to a menagerie of demented cartoon characters. Brad Pitt, just a couple of years before his star started to meteorically rise to superstardom, turns his pouty youthful looks toward an amusing mimicry of 1950s cool.
Ralph Bakshis other films are:- the controversial Fritz the Cat (1972), the worlds first X-rated cartoon, an absurdist trip through 1960s counter-culture, and other similar counter-culture works Heavy Traffic (1973) and Coonskin (1975); several ventures into epic fantasy with Wizards (1977), his adaptation of The Lord of the Rings (1978) and Fire and Ice (1983); and the non-genre attempts to address American culture in American Pop (1981) and Hey Good Lookin (1982). Cool World has been the last theatrical work that Bakshi has made to date and all his other work has been in television.