Warner Bros. // 2007 // 87 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Michael Rubino (Retired) // August 20th, 2007
Bring the whole family...because children can't get into "rated R" without an adult.
Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theaters for DVD, is a layered piece of pop culture humor that embodies pretty much everything Adult Swim has to offer. It's vulgar, childish, and absurd. This, of course, is by no means a bad thing.
Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theaters for DVD, or ATHFCMFFTFD for short, is based on the popular Adult Swim cartoon series which launched back in 2000. In the big-screen debut, we find the show's heroes, Master Shake, Frylock, and Meatwad on a quest to save the world and discover their past. Both of these acts are brought about rather incidentally, when Master Shake tries to assemble a home gym called the "Insanoflex."
Along the way, the Aqua Teens run into a number of characters from the series, including their neighbor Carl, Dr. Weird, the Cybernetic Ghost of Christmas Past, Time Traveling Lincoln, and Neil Peart from Rush.
Not many films can proudly tout the fact that they were created on a $750,000 budget, caused a massive terrorist scare in a major city, and were shown from beginning to end on television before hitting the theaters. Yet, ATHFCMFFTFD can say all of that while holding its head high. It's a film that's as absurd as it is stupid. It's inclusive, it's inside-jokey, and yet it's charming. Is it a success? Sort of.
ATHFCMFFTFD is in limbo, three steps away from being either brilliant or garbage. For fans of the show, it will be a hilarious triumph of a cult phenomenon. It embodies the rise of the Adult Swim movement, which is responsible for resurrecting dead shows (Family Guy, Futurama) as well as dead characters (Space Ghost). Never in my wildest dreams did I expect a poorly animated 15-minute cartoon show about talking food in New Jersey to make it the big screen...and yet I can't help but feel that's part of the joke.
The film has a layered sense of humor that I didn't necessarily pick up on the first time around. Yes, there are funny situations, gags, and one-liners fired at the viewer from every angle, but that's to be expected. Then there is the absurdist, almost stream-of-consciousnessness, means of plot development, which is confusing, clever, and altogether insane. Finally, there is the simple fact that this movie was actually made, which is the biggest joke of all. The self-referentialality of the marketing, the Borat-esque title, and the Meatloaf-style poster art all add to this sense of being in on the act. By watching this movie, you are playing into the hands of Adult Swim, and taking part in something strange...and largely satisfying.
Thinking about ATHFCMFFTFD as a movie, however, is another task in itself. While it's funny to think that the movie was made (much like Snakes on a Plane), there needs to be some sort of substance. Right? Well, maybe not, but most people unfamiliar with the show will think that. The plot itself manages to confuse while also not really going anywhere, the scripted humor is largely stuck in the seventh-grade gutter, and the pacing is rather uneven. It's not a perfect movie by any means, and yet I don't think anyone involved really cares.
I find myself joining the movie in limbo. I was a fan of the show during its early seasons, and just stopped watching because I found better things to do...but I can always appreciate what the Aqua Teens are up to (especially when it involves Neil Peart). But I can't help but feel that the movie could have been more. Maybe it could have been funnier, or perhaps just some nicer graphics. I have trouble excusing the aliasing and pixelation issues still prevalent in this "big budget" (proportionally) adaptation. Ultimately, it's a film that's alive and funny now; I can't say if it'll stay that way.
As for the technical aspects, the film is pretty solid. It's hard to judge the video quality of something like this, given the inherent technical problems found in the Adult Swim style of animation, but overall it looks good. The film is super-colorful, and boasts a few "special effects" that come with an enhanced budget (like a CGI transformation sequence straight out of the original Playstation). The sound is also very good, and the film features a faux orchestral score, reminding us all that this is, indeed, a "movie film for theaters."
The experience that is ATHFCMFFTFD doesn't just end with watching the theatrical release of the film, mind you. This DVD is packed with an extensive list of special features on two discs. You won't see this movie double-dipping any time soon.
The first disc contains the original film accompanied by a commentary track. The commentary isn't the best I've heard, but it is pretty funny. For some reason, the track features not only folks involved with the movie but also Todd Hanson from The Onion and Hall of Fame rocker Patti Smith. I'm not really sure why she's there, but she's pretty funny. The track offers some insights, but really just ends up being a bunch of people sitting around talking about things that aren't the movie.
Also on the first disc is an excellent making-of featurette called "Behind the Scenes/The Thing We Shot Wed Night." The featurette covers almost every aspect of the creation of the movie, including some hilarious scenes with the Foley artists. It's probably one of the only insightful special features in the DVD release, but it covers mostly everything you'd want to know. There are also trailers, a 3D animation test, and an art/music gallery on the first disc.
I was a bit skeptical when I heard the second disc has a deleted movie on it...I don't know why, given the rest of the stuff Aqua Teen does. It is true, there is an 80-minute second film on the disc which is sort of a rough draft of the final product. The story is a little different, featuring some new subplots and such, but it does tend to overlap with the theatrical film. It's also worth noting that this isn't a finished product by any means, and most of the 80-minute movie is animatics and still frames. The deleted movie isn't nearly as funny as the final cut, but it is a good look into the animation process used for the show.
There are 10 fake endings. Some are funny, others are kind of stupid. The same goes for the deleted scenes. Unfortunately, these features are in dire need of a "Play All" button, because it's lame to have to navigate a menu to load a 20-second clip over and over. The disc also features some music videos. These are pretty cool to see, but most of them are studio recording sessions with folks involved with the movie, including Cameo and Mastadon. There is one, however, that is animated and features Nashville Pussy and Master Shake rocking out. Last but not least are the Pete promos. These feature Master Shake voice Dana Snyder in various clips and commercials promoting the movie. There are also some projector trailers for the film which are pretty clever.
The package design fits the movie to a T. The DVDs come in a standard case with the sweet Meatloaf/heavy metal/fantasy art for the film on the cover. It's weird that even the back of the package made me laugh, as almost all of the back cover is filled with special features. A lot of the features are scratched out, rewritten, and elaborated on with handwriting. Some of the features are even labeled on the wrong disc. Classy!
Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theaters for DVD is, ultimately, for fans of the television show. I can try to convince you otherwise, but you would just end up being disappointed. I've tried overthinking this, but I simply can't imagine anyone who hasn't seen the show before actually enjoying this movie. The film is pretty hilarious in the context of the Adult Swim universe of throwaway entertainment and brief, chance, laughs.
Guilty of being a funny movie film for DVD for reviewer to review.
Review content copyright © 2007 Michael Rubino; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Warner Bros.
* 1.66:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 87 Minutes
Release Year: 2007
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* Sizzle Reel
* Behind the Scenes/The Thing We Shot Wed Night
* John Schnepp 3D
* Deleted Movie
* 10 Fake Endings
* Deleted Scenes
* Music Videos
* Pete Promos