Matthew Modine

In one of the sillier recent instances of terrorist paranoia, Boston filed criminal charges against hirelings who installed cryptic electronic street signage promoting this Cartoon Network spinoff. Resulting controversy didn't spike ratings for the latenight cable series, and probably won't significantly impact a movie that will draw members of the show's ardent fan base but few others before ancillary release.

In one of the sillier recent instances of terrorist paranoia, Boston filed criminal charges against hirelings who installed cryptic electronic street signage promoting this Cartoon Network spinoff. Resulting controversy didn’t spike ratings for the latenight cable series, and probably won’t significantly impact a movie that will draw members of the show’s ardent fan base but few others before ancillary release. Still, this feature-length expansion offers a diverting package of surreal, rude stoner- and pop culture-based humor that will delight youthful viewers while bewildering stray elders.

“Aqua Teen Hunger Force” is a cartoon “Hellzapoppin’ ” for those weaned on videogames, hip-hop and overblown mall flicks. Its protagonists are talking, animate fast-food items. Dairy product Master Shake (voiced by Dana Snyder) is a vain, bossy type whose bright ideas are invariably dim ones.

His bullying works well enough on gullible Meatwad (Dave Willis, who, like series co-creator Matt Maiellaro, voices numerous characters). Meatwad is a blob of expired ground-beef-like matter capable of surprise morphing and other talents. The operation’s brains belong to Frylock (Carey Means), a goateed pocket of salty fries that can be fired at will like rockets, yet his voice of intelligent skepticism is rarely heeded.

The Aqua Teens (a moniker that, like much else here, has no practical explanation) live in a dumpy New Jersey house next to slobby human Carl (Willis), who’s forever irked by their intrusions into his lowbrow lifestyle.

A big leap beyond the 15-minute Cartoon Net segments, “Colon Movie Film” is more elaborate in technical terms, drawing on a wider array of deliberately clashing animation styles. Still, it hews faithfully to the series’ anarchic, scatological tenor.

Characters are intro’d in a parodic 1960s-style “Intermission Time,” with singing concession items rudely interrupted by aggressive, heavy-metal snacks shouting aggressive audience exhortations (“If I see you videotaping this movie/Satan will rain hot acid down your throat”). Then titles identify the setting as “Egypt, Millions of Years Ago, 3 p.m., 1492, New York.” The Aqua Teens are seen breaking out of a pyramid crypt, only to be attacked by a giant poodle.

All this turns out to be another fabrication of the trio’s collective backstory by the braggarty Master Shake. But don’t expect plot logic to kick in once this prelude is exposed as a sham.

There is a semblance of a narrative thread to the feature’s remainder: The Insane-O-Flex, a home exercise machine Shake has stolen from Carl, turns out to be an unstoppable killing thingy that wreaks havoc on the general populace.

Force trio attempts to stop the Insane-O-Flex in its usual disorganized fashion, fending off numerous others who want to control the machine for their own obscurely nefarious purposes. Among them are megalomaniac mad scientist Dr. Weird and hapless assistant Steve (both voiced by C. Martin Croker); Err and Ignignokt, 2-D tributes to old Atari game figures; Oglethorpe and Emory, would-be conquerors from the “Plutonian League”; their often inappropriately horny ally, Cybernetic Ghost of Christmas Past; and drummer Neal Peart, from veteran progressive-metal trio Rush.

If this all sounds like a bunch of nonsense, rest assured, it is — gleefully so. Perhaps the best description of what both the feature and its long-running TV-show source aim for was supplied by Maiellaro in an interview: “If it’s not funny, at least it’s weird and unexpected.”

“Colon Movie Film” is not laugh-out-loud stuff most of the time. But its sheer imaginative arbitrariness can be delightful, provided viewers can connect to its admittedly limited-access wavelength.

R rating is fully merited by frequently tasteless content, though the absurdism at work feels less offensive than loutish tube toons like “Family Guy.” Soundtrack choices are another platform for in-joke satire, with Phil Collins’ “In the Air Tonight” particularly flogged.

Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theaters

Animated

Production

A First Look Pictures release of an Adult Swim presentation, in association with First Look Pictures, of a Williams Street production. Produced by Dave Willis, Matt Maiellaro, Jay Wade Edwards, Ned Hastings. Executive producers, Mike Lazzo, Keith Crofford. Directed, written by Matt Maiellaro, Dave Willis.

Crew

(Color); supervising editor, Jay Wade Edwards; editors, Phil Samson, Ned Hastings, John Brestan; art director, Bob Pettitt; animation director, Craig Hartin; animation, Radical Axis, Big Deal Cartoons, Matthew I. Jenkins Studio; sound designer (Dolby Digital), Michael Kohler; re-recording mixer, Brandon Proctor; line producer, Vishal Roney. Reviewed at Variety Club screening room, San Francisco, March 14, 2007. Running time: 86 MIN.

With

Voices: Dana Snyder, Dave Willis, Carey Means, Andy Merrill, Mike Schatz, Matt Maiellaro, Fred Armisen, Bruce Campbell, C. Martin Croker, George Lowe, mc chris, Chris Kattan, Neal Peart, Tina Fey.

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