A critic would have an easier time summarizing “War and Peace” in 600 words than trying to fill that same space with a review of “Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theaters.” This isn’t because the film is especially dense or complicated, or that its plot is intricate. Come to think of it, it didn’t even really have much of a plot at all.
The film is basically an 80-minute episode of the original Adult Swim show. And if people were amazed that the show could sustain a storyline for 10 minutes, they’ll truly marvel at the film adaptation, a surrealist Dadaist parody of a real movie, though an admittedly very funny Dadaist parody.
It’s an epic adventure for America’s favorite talking food items that live together and occasionally solve crimes. The trio is made up of Master Shake, an anthropomorphic milkshake with a penchant for mischief as big as his ego. Rounding out the group are Meatwad, a lovably childish talking meatball, and Frylock. Frylock is like Samuel L. Jackson — if Jackson were a hovering container of French fries with a moustache and the ability to shoot laser beams out of his eyes.
Having talking food items for main characters raises suspicions as to whether the writers just had the munchies when they were trying to come up with a show. But Master Shake, Meatwad and Frylock are actually very realized characters, and after four seasons of their antics on Adult Swim, their back-and-forth banter has the rhythm of a classic comedy trio.
The film kicks things off “millions of years ago, in Ancient Egypt, in 1492, in New York City.” The Hunger Force members crawl out of the sphincter of the great Sphinx, bewildered, speaking some type of nonsensical backward language. It’s not long before Abraham Lincoln materializes out of nowhere to give them a wooden rocket ship, marking the beginning of their adventure.
It was tough to decipher the plot, between all the distracting sequences involving chickens on fire and robots humping things. But the plot seems to be about the recovery of a crucial piece of the Insane-O-Flex, an all-powerful exercise machine capable of destroying the universe. Standing in the Hunger Force’s way is an army of sophomoric aliens, deranged mad scientists, a talking watermelon and other popular characters that have appeared on the show. The funniest of these characters are the Mooninites, Ignignokt and Err, humorously inept Space Invader–types who look like the pixilated villains from an old Atari game. News junkies may remember them as the culprits behind the Boston terrorist scare in January, when guerilla marketers placed neon light fixtures of the duo giving the finger around Boston.
So while it certainly won’t be nominated for any screenwriting awards, as a love letter to the fans, the film is a masterpiece. Unlike most television-to-film adaptations, the filmmakers seem to take pride in making almost no concessions to the constraints one normally runs into when crafting a cohesive film narrative. Little things like structure or having a detectable beginning, middle and end don’t matter as much when one of the main characters is a talking milkshake. And “Aqua Teen Hunger Force” fans probably wouldn’t have it any other way.
“Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theaters” was written and directed by Matt Maiellaro and Dave Willis.
“Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theaters” received three out of four stars.