Before I begin this vastly negative review for Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film For Theaters, I think I need to establish my drug bona fides. The reason for that is because many, many people will dismiss the extreme level of hatred I have for this movie because they’ll think I don’t ‘get’ stoner humor. So, for those people, here’s my wastoid CV: I have extensive experience with marijuana; I used to be the kind of guy who goes shopping for pipes just on a lazy afternoon (and smoking so much dope meant I had many, many lazy afternoons). Of course no purchased pipe or bong ever beat the gasmask bong attached to a wheelchair my friends and I used. My experience with psychedelics is also very extensive, ranging from shitty blotter acid to mushrooms to mescaline to PCP (totally by accident). I’ve done enough ecstasy to be able to call it E and not feel stupid, mainly because I have blitzed through many of my brain cells on the substance. Further experience includes various muscle relaxers, pain killers, cocaine, amphetamines, hashish and pretty much anything you don’t have to inject, although one time a friend and I spent a week spritzing dilaudid into our mouths from a syringe. Again, this isn’t to make me seem cool to the junior high schoolers in the audience (although hey, if that works, great. The kids probably have better connections than I do these days), but just to establish that I’m not the sort of guy to be baffled by entertainment aimed squarely at people who are high (although to be frank I never got Phish).
As I sat through the interminable hour and a half of ATHFCMFFT, I began craving every single drug I had ever taken – anything just to get my mind off the nonsense and unfunny retardation happening on screen. I even starting jonesing for heroin, a drug I never did. Hell, by the end of the movie I was Jim Jonesing for some Kool-Aid.
The movie is a very, very long version of the 15-minute cartoon that runs on Adult Swim on the Cartoon Network. For the uninitiated, it’s about a trio of anthropomorphic foods: a floating and super-intelligent carton of fries named Frylock, a snotty and sort of stupid milkshake named Master Shake, and a wad of very stupid meat named Meatwad. They live in New Jersey next to a fat, hairy guinea named Carl. This is the basic set-up, and the idea is that wacky, bizarre and purportedly funny things happen to and around them. At a quarter of an hour in length, ATHF is tolerable on television and can even elicit a chuckle or two.
At an hour and a half, ATHF is like some kind of arcane torture. There’s a plot to this movie, which involves an exercise machine that will cause galactic disruption, as well as the ‘origin’ of the Aqua Teen characters, but calling this flimsy would be really overstating the case. The movie is mostly made up of tenuously connected and blaringly unfunny vignettes featuring popular characters from the show. Oftentimes the jokes, such as they are, feel like nothing more than callbacks to the show or just random permutations of words – I’ve been high enough to think I was sinking into a shag carpet but never high enough to think this shit is funny.
At a certain point in the film I began to wonder if it wasn’t even meant to be funny. Is the existence of the movie itself a meta-joke, one that only the creators are in on? There are long stretches of the movie where things that are ‘strange’ (and that’s in quotes because I don’t think there’s anything in this movie that’s one-twentieth as strange as the least strange thing in El Topo. This film is to surreal comedy as Hot Topic is to punk rock) happen, but not many moments that seem to be structured jokes, or intended to get laughs. My screening was packed with trust fund college journalist hipsters, many of whom were cracking up at the press notes, for Christ’s sake, and they even stopped laughing about twenty minutes into the film. If it is the case that this whole film is a joke on anyone who sees it, bravo in theory, but a big fuck you because I sat through the whole goddamned thing.
In the interest of fairness, there were two things I liked about this film: it opened with a parody of the ‘Let’s all go to the lobby’ concession stand animated advertisement which features a heavy metal band made up of snacks singing about how they will kill you if you talk during the movie, etc. This was genuinely humorous, although the whole ironic ‘metal is hilarious/I actually like metal’ thing is so played out already. The other bit that made me laugh were the Mooninites, who you might recall being the cartoon characters that Boston mistook as Al Qaeda bombs or something. There are two Mooninite characters, and their voices and the way they interact were genuinely funny – how funny, I can’t tell you because when set in this arid desert of non-humor, anything remotely amusing feels like the most decadent oasis of comedy imaginable.
It’s not often that I see a movie that leaves me with the desire to do actual bodily harm to the people who made it, but walking out of ATHFCMFFT I was filled with rage and hatred. Honestly, if George W Bush could prove that Saddam Hussein had funded this movie I would reverse my stance on the Iraq War and say that every single civilian casualty was justified.