Die-hard Aqua Teen Hunger Force fans may have never expected the Cartoon Network animated series – part of the channel’s “Adult Swim” line-up, and a spin-off of Space Ghost: Coast to Coast – to make it the big-screen, but they’ll likely be the only ones prepared for the sheer, uninhibited insanity of Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theaters. To say that the maiden feature-length adventure of mutant happy meal rejects Master Shake, Frylock and Meatwad is an origin story would be to describe its hilarious tale in conventional terms, a mistake given that the so-called narrative primarily adheres to creators Matt Maiellaro and Dave Willis’ inventive flights of freakazoid fancy. A time-traveling Abe Lincoln, talking watermelons, a pelvic-thrusting robot chicken-man (i.e. the Cybernetic Ghost of Christmas Past), familiar villains (the Plutonians and Mooninites), and other assorted oddities all play a part in the trio’s crazy quest to stop the rampaging Insanoflex exercise machine. It’s a flimsy premise that’s used as a springboard for events too bizarre and nonsensical to coherently recount in print, though suffice it to say that much of the action takes place in and around the non-aqua, non-teenage trio’s New Jersey Shore home (as well as the oft-destroyed abode of their grumpy, balding, hairy-chested neighbor Carl).
Its foundation the contentious relationship between its super-powered anthropomorphic fast food items – with Frylock as the calm voice of reason, Shake as the selfish, arrogant jerk, and Meatwad as Shake’s retarded whipping boy – the go-for-broke film offers up an eclectic blend of science-fiction madness, sarcastic one-liners and arbitrary pop culture references that result in an outsized, aggressive form of the series’ trademark comedic abstraction. A self-consciously anti-conformist, surrealistic animated saga for adults, it glides along to the beat of its own foul-mouthed drum (or, rather, the magically powered drums of Rush’s Neil Peart), never stopping to offer any concessions to mainstream audience expectations or demands and, in the process, proving to be that rare major studio-financed movie whose every fiber is the product of a thoroughly unique, maverick voice. A 90-minute runtime is eventually the largest hindrance to Aqua Teen’s rollicking, free-form momentum. Yet there’s ultimately something exhilarating – and, dare I say, liberating? – about the film’s chaotic avant-garde energy, which is rooted in haphazard, wacko contrasts like the opening’s belligerent death metal-playing refreshment stand items, as well as random gags such as the year’s most inspired cameo, from SNL and 30 Rock’s Tina Fey as the Aqua Team’s big, bosomy burrito momma.