‘Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theaters’ Doesn’t Live Up to the TV Series
Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theaters opened yesterday to rather scathing reviews. Being a huge fan of the Adult Swim series, I ignored all the critics and went to see the movie anyway.
The film begins with a brilliantly hilarious mock-up of drive-in style concessions advertisements. You might remember seeing an old animated ad where a box of candy, a soda, a hot dog, and other food items dance across the screen singing about the snacks you should go buy. This intro presents a different take on those concessions ads by throwing in food items singing a hard rock tune about proper movie etiquette. Listen for lyrics about not pulling your penis out in the theater or threats of running over crying babies with a car. With this intro, the film started out on a high note that it never quite hit again.
Most of the well-known characters were back for the film including our three fast food heroes, Master Shake, Frylock and Meatwad, their neighbor Carl, The Cybernetic Ghost of Christmas Past, pointy-armed Plutonians Emory and Oglethorpe, and the infamous Mooninites Ignignokt and Err. There’s even an appearance from MC Pee Pants. Unfortunately, that’s pretty much where it stops.
The rest of the plot involves new characters or ones that were less than memorable on the show. For example, Dr. Weird may have kicked off the first few shows, but he hasn’t been seen on the series for seasons. Still, he and his pointy-haired assistant Steve appear as a major part of the story in the film adaptation. The rest of the plot involves an exercise machine gone haywire and a talking slice of watermelon.
I was hoping that the film would reward to fans of the cult series. One highlight of the tv show was cameos by brilliant comedians like David Cross, Patton Oswalt or Sarah Silverman. I figured the film would reference some of these classic characters, like Meatwad’s depressed doll Happy Time Harry (voiced by Cross), Mothmonsterman, or the frat aliens (Oswalt), but unfortunately they were nowhere to be found. Hardly any of the weird characters the Aqua Teens have met over the years were featured in the film. Willie Nelson, the weird onion/spider that lives in the attic was in a quick establishing shot of the house, but didn’t have a single line. Even Meatwad’s dolls Dewey, Vanessa an Boxy Brown only appeared as scenery.
I can’t help but compare Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theaters to other tv-to-movie adaptations. Unlike South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut, the film had no solid plot line. That’s because, unlike South Park, the tv series doesn’t have a clear cut plot. Aqua Teen has never really operated on a three-act structure like South Park, so it’s only natural that the film wouldn’t follow this structure either.
In Beavis and Butt-Head Do America, the filmmakers were faced with the challenge of adapting something that was perfectly suited for tv to the big screen. Beavis and Butt-Head creator (and genius!) Mike Judge has said in interviews that he found the biggest challenge of making the Beavis and Butt-Head movie was trying to figure out a way to get the two main characters off the couch and into the world where things could happen to them.
Like Aqua Teen, Beavis and Butt-Head was a show that was going to take a lot of restructuring to work as a feature film. After all, the majority of Beavis and Butt-Head was the boys on the couch watching music videos, something that could capture an audience for a half-hour, but not for 90+ minutes. Judge and co. pulled off their film adaptation by completely rethinking the way the show played out. Instead of commercial-length short sketches and music video commentary, they created a story line about spies, a deadly virus, and a stolen tv. The Aqua Teen movie attempted this, but struggled with staying too similar to it’s tv form, yet still going big enough to fill a movie.
While the film was definitely funny, there were times where it felt like writers Matt Maiellaro and Dave Willis simply ran out of ideas. It’s certainly a challenge to go from a 15 minute cult tv series to an 86 minute feature film, but there were moments where the plot of the film seemed to go nowhere. Even more than the tv show, the film seemed to rely on a funny line here and there to keep viewers interested when the story seemed to meander around in circles. It’s easy to have a plot that goes nowhere when the total running time of the program is sometimes less than 10 minutes, but that kind of writing doesn’t really work for a movie.
I have to say, I liked the film, but I expected more. I laughed out loud several times and the stoner guys behind me were cracking up for most of the movie, but there were also a lot of moments when I wondered where exactly the story was going. If you’re like me and you really like the tv show, check the movie out for yourself. If you’re not a big fan of the series or you’ve never seen it before, you’ll be totally lost for the majority of the movie