1½ stars (out of four)
Belying its name, "Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theaters" is a clever piece of work, deconstructing male-female relationships and reassembling the parts into a thought-provoking cocktail of outlandish humor and searing male introspection.Or not.
Based on Cartoon Network's late-night TV cult hit, this absurdist animated film follows three human-size fast-food items--a box of fries, a milkshake and a wad of meat--as they try to assemble an ancient piece of exercise equipment that shouldn't be put together.
Here, co-creators Dave Willis and Matt Maiellaro have written and directed a surreal concoction that's true to the TV show's formula of blowing apart sitcom formulas. Imagine "Two and a Half Men" with robots, aliens, crude jokes, cruel sight gags and no laugh track. Now have an animator on acid bring that to life, and you get the feel of "Aqua Teen Hunger Force," a favorite among YouTube-loving males, including this reviewer. To borrow lyrics from the movie's opening set piece, "If you don't understand, you should not be here."
"Colon" will pull an occasional guffaw from fans of the show, but it will baffle everybody else. The belly laughs are deep--the opening is so headbangingly loud and in-your-face funny that you wonder how the rest of the movie will keep up. But by the time you hear the flaccid remix of the TV show's theme, you realize the movie long ago shot its Meatwad.
Meatwad is the cotton-mouthed naive character; Frylock is the focused but sexually confused leader; and Master Shake is the instigating blowhard who thinks he's in command. They rent a house together in New Jersey, playing video games and surfing the Web while dreaming of going on dates and being better than they are. Predictably, our trio of heroes get the world into trouble, kind of save the day, undergo a bit of self-discovery, then the movie just sort of ends. That's not much of a premise, but there you go. "ATHF" is a mishmash of non sequiturs that sets up your expectations, then vomits all over them. Prepare for heaping helpings of exploding pets, melting skin, empty boasts, fulsome sexual references and other pointlessness. In short bursts of late-night TV, "ATHF" is cramp-inducingly funny. Stretched over 87 minutes, it's too much to bear. Fast food cures the munchies but makes for a terrible diet.
The TV episodes invariably embed a character or a bit of dialogue in your brain that you continuously describe or repeat to your friends. No such find in the movie, though the offbeat soundtrack is very gettable.
See this if you have no alternative, but you're better off saving up for the TV show DVDs.
'Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theaters'
Written and directed by Matt Maiellaro and Dave Willis; edited by Jay Wade Edwards; art direction by Bob Pettitt; produced by Maiellaro, Willis, Edwards and Ned Hastings. A First Look Pictures release; opens Friday. Running time: 1:27. MPAA rating: R (for crude and sexual humor, violent images and language).
Meatwad - Willis
Master Shake - Dana Snyder
Frylock - Carey Means
Carl - Willis
Cybernetic Ghost - Maiellaro
Oglethorpe - Andy Merrill
Emory - Mike SchatzCopyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times