Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theaters (2007) / Animation-Comedy

MPAA Rated: R for crude and sexual humor, violent images and language
Running time: 86 min.

Cast (voices): Dave Willis, Dana Snyder, Carey Means, Andy Merrill, Mike Schatz, Matt Maiellaro, Fred Armisen, Bruce Campbell, C. Martin Croker, Chris Kattan, Isaac Hayes, Tina Fey
Director: Matt Maiellaro, Dave Willis
Screenplay: Matt Maiellaro, Dave Willis

Review published July 19, 2007

Cartoon Network's "Adult Swim" staple gets the big screen treatment, which will no doubt please fans of the television show, and perhaps entertain the uninitiated who are sky high at the time of viewing through its seemingly random, but stupid-smart humor.  The premise involves three fast food items -- a milkshake called Master Shake (voiced by Dana Snyder), a box of fries called Frylock (Means), and a meatball called Meatwad (Willis) -- who basically get involved in a series of surreal, comical adventures. 

Of course, being an R-rated film, show co-creators Matt Maiellaro and Dave Willis are able to take an already envelope-pushing show and do what they normally might not be able to on television, with spicier dialogue, more disturbingly odd images, and plenty of crass sexual humor.  It also provides a sort-of origin to the characters themselves, while tossing in a few cameos for music and comedy artists. 

It's difficult to construct a tangible plotline, as part of the film's gimmick is that it never quite settles in to a solid form from a story standpoint.  The gist of what's there involves a high-tech exercise machine from the future, dubbed the Insanoflex, that endangers life on the planet Earth as we know it.  Also in on the fray is Force nemesis Dr. Weird and his assistant, Steve, as well as Emory, Oglethorpe and Cybernetic Ghost. 

Of course, not many fans of the show will care about the story, which isn't much more than a platform from which to spring a series of gags, some ingenious and some just downright so-stupid-they're-funny.   There is just something about the oft-absurd delivery and comical characters that makes us laugh at them despite our ability to realize that it's not always that funny.  It's hard to describe the humor and why it's funny to someone who hasn't seen the film, mostly because much of the humor relies on the timing of the gags and the oddball nature of the characters and their comical appearance themselves.

Like many animated TV shows to make the leap to the big screen, Aqua Teen Hunger Force does have a point of tedium that comes into play, mostly due to the nature of the sporadic humor and amorphous storyline.  It starts off well, with a hilarious death metal take on the "Let's All Go to the Lobby" pre-film standard at old-time theaters, spelling out to the audience all of the things theaters normally tell people not to do when watching the movie, then just a little more.  Once the story gets going, much of the time it spins its wheels, piling on more clever twists but never really going anywhere with them, except as another excuse to reel out a few more gags while on the subject.  The exercise machine that blasts out high-energy music like you'd hear at the gym, "I Like Your Booty, but I'm Not Gay", is amusing upon its first instance, but it doesn't get funnier with each repeated rendition of the repetitive chorus, and it does repeat often.  Perhaps if the film could have done more to break up the story, even making it somewhat episodic, the momentum wouldn't wane as it goes on for those who actually try to follow what's going on.

Aqua Teen Hunger Force is one of those movies that people could claim as "funny when stoned", and I'd be inclined to agree.  It tosses up plenty of unrelated gags and disjointed asides pulled right out of their rear ends --the incongruous nature of it is the main appeal.  All in all, the movie as a whole may not say much, but it's the impressive accumulation of the little comedic moments that add up to make the trip worthwhile.

Qwipster's rating:

2007 Vince Leo