Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theaters (US - DVD R1)
My name is Gabe Powers, DVD viewer. Do you want a trick? I'll bring it to you...
You want a plot synopsis? You’re out of luck, man, ‘cause I’m not even going to attempt to round up all the stuff that happens in Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film For Theaters. If you’ve never seen the Adult Swim series there’s really no reason to see the film, unless maybe you’re on a lot of drugs. It’s a show about slightly anthropomorphic fast food items that rent a house in Jersey and occasionally fight aliens. Well, fight is too strong a word, they mostly just argue. The back of the DVD box doesn’t even try to sum up this plot.
It took me a very long time to appreciate the subtle brand of humour employed by the Aqua Teen squad, but once I got the hang of the show it became a favourite. As I’ve said before in other reviews, my personal affection comes out of the character moments. It took me a while to get over the unbelievable weirdness of the series and recognize the character’s traits, which is a big part of why it took me so long to like the show. In the end I pretty much live for Carl, the Aqua Teen’s super sarcastic, super angry, super passive aggressive neighbour.
So now that we’re clear on my personal attachment to the series, let’s talk a little about the movie. The short story is that it’s okay, just above average, but not as good as most single episodes in the series’ first four seasons. Fortunately it’s less assaultive than the majority of the latest season, which is a nihilistic mess. When Adult Swim premiered a full twenty-two minute episode of what we were told were ‘deleted scenes’ from the upcoming movie the joke stopped being funny, and I was afraid of what awaited me in theatres.
If this latest season is a fan-hating Dadaist experiment (and that’s really the only thing that could redeem it), then the movie is a regression to what made us all love the series in the first place. The problem is that we’ve already seen four seasons of this stuff. Fans that expect a definitive episode of the show will be disappointed. I didn’t find myself bored, and I found myself laughing quite a bit, but the film is just a bunch of random stuff, not a whole narrative or even several small ones, it’s just stuff happening. I used to fool myself into thinking that these guys were somehow misunderstood artists, but now I realize that they’re just writing for themselves.
The filmmakers spend a little too much time aiming to please a large group of fans, and though I watched the film with a single friend in my living room, I could still hear the audience cheering at certain moments (the first appearance of the Plutonians, the Mooninites, a quick glimpse at the attic monster, the first utterance of ‘Gentlemen!’). That’s all well and good, and I like the idea of filmmakers using studio money to entertain themselves and their closest friends, but this isn’t a movie I see myself watching ever again. I’ve sat through entire seasons of the show, and in twelve minute bites I could eat Aqua Teen Hunger Force for hours, but without focus this joke wears thin.
Aqua Teen Hunger Force is basically an internet based Flash cartoon with a decent budget, and its solid bright colours and hard black lines lend themselves to DVD nicely. There’s little noticeable compression like blocking or artefacts, and unlike some animated titles there’s no sign of edge enhancement. The colours are bright, the blacks rich, and the Mooninite vomit is crystal clear. There are some interlacing effects throughout, leaving to wonder why this isn't a progressive transfer.
Watching the Aqua Teens in 5.1 Dolby Digital surround is pretty silly, but it seems the creators were aware of this when mixing the film. The surround and stereo channels are aggressive at times, though series fans will appreciate the return of awkward silence. The show has always boasted more than its share of top tier musical guests, and metal fans will not be disappointed with this soundtrack. Sometimes music is a bit over-mixed, and loses clarity in the stereo channels.
Disc one of this rather packed two disc set begins with a commentary featuring some guy named Todd Hanson, Shake voice actor Dana Snyder, some guy named Fred Armstrong, and… Patti Smith. Patti freaking Smith! Not just some lady named Patti Smith, we’re talking the Patti Smith! Apparently she’s a fan. It’s a pretty decent commentary considering only one person on it had anything to do with the movie, but it does lose steam. It’s interesting though, because the making-of documentary makes mention of a creator and staff commentary being recorded before the film was finished.
Next on the extras menu are two trailers, both amusing, both totally unable to sell the film to none fans, both not seen anywhere but Adult Swim. Then there’s another trailer called a ‘Sizzle Reel’, which is actually the same as the first trailer, plus or minus a few things here and there. It’s also longer.
‘The Thing We Shot Wednesday Night’ is behind the scenes documentary, incorporating a table read, editing footage, and interviews with the directors, writers, musicians, and voice actors. It should be surprising how quickly the film came together, considering it was a theatrical release, but it isn’t. The audio quality is a bit on the hard to decipher side, but the doc is entertaining, informative, and covers pretty much everything in a palatable runtime of twenty-six minutes. I’m very thankful that the creative folks decided to take it seriously because I’m not a fan of consistently subversive DVD extras.
Then there’s an art gallery slide show set to music from the film, which runs in pseudo chronological order for a little while, then goes as random as the rest of the film. The art covers character sketches, final backgrounds, 3D renderings, and rough animation and runs just over sixteen minutes. This is followed by a really old fashion 3D animated sequence that I’m assuming was an alternate version of the film’s opening scene, and a legal information page.
Disc two is mysteriously labelled ‘Deleted Movie’. I had no idea what that meant until I put the disc in the player. Turns out it’s exactly what it says on the label, a deleted version of the film, not just some deleted scenes, not just a lot of deleted scenes, a whole ‘nother movie with the same basic structure. It’s not a completed version, the lips mostly don’t move and sometimes the characters are just cut-outs, but it’s still a movie. It happens to be so much worse than the movie that was released that we can all be happy that someone at Adult Swim said ‘No guys, this sucks, back to the drawing board.’
The Deleted Movie is the nihilistic, ‘Fuck you for liking our show’ I was afraid of, and included on the second disc is that episode that premiered the awful Mooninites torturing Carl stuff. The rest of the deleted scenes are also already in the deleted movie, but this may be the more efficient way to watch them. Fans will recognize some of these from the DVD release marathon that played on television. The ‘Fake Endings’ are little bit jokes, most of which are less than thirty seconds, totalling ten.
The music videos are a bit of a disappointment. All but one is behind the scenes footage montages rather than animated videos as I assumed. The one animated video is a version of the Nashville Pussy song ‘Face Omelette’, which is re-dubbed by Master Shake. The animation isn’t much, but that isn’t going to be surprising to series fans. The other songs, by 9 lb Hammer, Mastodon (whose opening song about theatre behaviour is the best thing in the entire movie, and is adorning my iPod right now), Lobby Singers, Nashville Pussy (the non-Shake version of the song), Brass Castle, and Cameo (a song that was deleted from the original film, probably the only funny joke deleted). No sign of ‘I Like You Booty, But I’m Not Gay’.
Things are completed with Adult Swim promos staring the real Shake, Dana Snyder, and another legal page.
Non-fans won’t want to touch this thing with a five-hundred foot, antibacterial swab, and even fans may be disappointed, but this is more or less exactly what I expected from a feature length Aqua Teen Hunger Force film. The DVD itself is very impressive extras-wise, and depending on what you pay for it, it’s probably worth the cash to complete your ATHF DVD collection.
Review by Gabriel Powers
Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian
Release Date: 14th August 2007
Disc Type: Single side, dual layer
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 English
Extras: Commentary, Trailers, Featurette, Deleted Movie, Deleted Scenes, Fake Endings, Music Videos
Easter Egg: No
Director: Matt Maiellaro, Dave Willis
Cast: Dana Snyder, Carey Means, Dave Willis, Andy Merrill, Mike Schatz, Bruce Campbell
Genre: Animation and Comedy
Length: 87 minutes
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