American Fable is ambitious, maybe too much so sometimes, but there's an intense pleasure in the boldness of the film's style.
The DJ who was hosting the radio station's free preview of "Cool World" leaped onto the stage and promised the audience: "If you liked "Roger Rabbit," you'll love "Cool World'!" He was wrong, but you can't blame him - he hadn't seen the movie. I have, and I will now promise you that if you liked "Roger Rabbit," quit while you're ahead.
"Cool World" is a seriously troubled film, so ragged I doubt if even the director can explain the story line. Like "Who Framed Roger Rabbit" it assumes that humans and cartoon characters can exist within the same reality, and it gives us human beings who find themselves in the "cool world" in another dimension beyond the animator's pen.
There is nothing wrong with this concept. There is everything wrong with the execution. Let's start with the animation itself, which seems to have been created by Ralph Bakshi with an unrealistic idea of how quickly we can comprehend visual information. A great deal of this film is so complex, chaotic, quick-cut and fast-moving that it is impossible to sit in the audience and figure out what is being depicted. The cartoon characters are so plastic that they are able to distort their shapes quickly and extremely, which occasionally leads to a good effect but often prevents us from seeing, or registering, who they are or what they are doing.
Then there is the story, beginning with a prologue in postwar Las Vegas that exists only to catapult one of the characters (played by Brad Pitt) into the "Cool World." He works as a cop there, and eventually is joined by another human, a cartoonist, Jack Deebs (Gabriel Byrne), who has followed one of his creations, the seductive Holli Would (first a cartoon and later a human played by Kim Basinger).