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film criticism by maryann johanson | since 1997

Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theaters (review)

Want Fries With That?

There isn’t “getting.” You don’t “get” Aqua Teen Hunger Force. You either accept its insanity, or it makes your head explode. It’s, you know, a faith thing. There’s nothing aqua about it, it’s questionable whether any of the characters are teens, and the idea of a “hunger force” comes into it only if you’re willing to consider consuming the fast-food heroes.

That’s right: the protagonists of this glorious nonsense are a man-size fast-food milkshake (flavor unclear), a giant levitating box of french fries, and an enormous meatball. And okay, yes, meatballs are not generally considered “fast food,” unless you’re talking about, like, pizza joints and and sub sandwiches and such, and I dunno if you can consider that really “fast food” since any pizza joint worth its salt is independentally owned and operated and not part of a franchise– but the point is, It’s a mystery. It is not our place to question.
I shouldn’t be the one explaining this to you. I don’t pretend to understand it. Geek that I am, ATHF had nevertheless barely impinged on my consciousness until the strange events in Boston a few months ago. I am not among the deeply initiated. But I feel the goodness and the strangeness and the unknowableness of it. I get it, this weird stream-of-consciousness riffing on pop culture and the absurdities of modern life and the wondrousness of chemically laden supposed food.

No, no, I shouldn’t be so arrogant. I don’t get. I can’t presume to get. I am a mere supplicant. I am at the mercy of ATHF. As we all are. Not many will be able to appreciate the wisdom and insight of the fast food. I don’t count myself among that select few. But I try. I try.

There is Master Shake, who is dumb, and Frylock, who is clever, and Meatwad, who is meat, and they are on a quest for a missing part for the exercise machine — the Insanoflex — that Master Shake stole from their neighbor in the Jesery suburbs. And they need this part so they can work out, so they can be hot, so that girls will want to do mysterious and enigmatic things with them, and so that the glory of life can be acknowledged. Or something. I can’t presume to understand. I can only behold, and wonder, and worship. I can marvel, in my secret heart, that there are parallels to be drawn between the trials and tribulations of the incomprehensibly sentient fast food and those of, you know, the pathetic dork audience… But no, this is not my place. I am not worthy to make such connections.

There are guys, and their names are Matt Maiellaro and Dave Willis, and lo, they are employees of a television network devoted to cartoons, and they have given unto us this strange beast, this mass of bizarre non sequiturs and existential pain — why o why would a just and noble deity allow the secret lair of an evil genius to be converted into luxury lofts? — and it is good. I dare not pretend to comprehend the vast meaning of it. I could meditate for a thousand years and not grasp it.

But there is the spiritual emptiness of suburbia. There is the pain of loneliness and of being made of meat. There is the inscrutability of not knowing from whence one springs or where one fits into the world or how one came to be where one is. These enigmas are not answered, for how could they be? They are merely acknowledged — it is the only thing mere mortals can do when faced with such oddnesses.

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MPAA: rated R for crude and sexual humor, violent images and language

viewed at a private screening with an audience of critics

official site | IMDb

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