- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 12, 2007

There have been many times, reviewing a film, when this critic has been tempted to say simply, “If you like this sort of thing, this is the sort of thing you’ll like. If you don’t, you won’t.”

That maxim might never be truer than for “Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theaters” — even taking David Lynch’s films into account.

The movie is based on what is likely the most successful original series on the Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim late-night animation block — this, despite the fact that the charms of this surreal television show are nearly impossible to explain.

“Aqua Teen Hunger Force” explores the foibles of three New Jersey roommates who just happen to be a self-centered milkshake, a thoughtful pack of fries and a really dumb but cute piece of meat.

Don’t look to the show’s title to shed light on this very funny show. Master Shake (the hilarious Dana Snyder), Frylock (Carey Means) and Meatwad (show co-creator Dave Willis) do like hanging in their neighbor Carl’s (also Mr. Willis) pool. But they’re not teens (though Meatwad is rather childlike) and don’t constitute any sort of force. Over the series, the trio have weathered such crises as discovering Meatwad’s brain is a cat toy and watching Shake get plastic surgery done in Guatemala.

Television series don’t always translate smoothly from half-hour show to 90-minute-plus film. “Aqua Teen” creators Matt Maiellaro and Dave Willis had an even tougher job; episodes are just 15 minutes long. But they’ve succeeded. The key, perhaps, is that “Aqua Teen” has never focused on plot; the show often ends with no resolution. It’s about character; everyone can relate to an obnoxious roommate or neighbor.

Don’t let the sharp-looking “Aqua Teen” movie poster fool you. The animation here is just as charmingly crude as on the small screen. So are many of the jokes. “See, women love kitty cats,” explains one character. “That’s why we’re gonna fire them out of this high-powered cannon.”

Such easygoing hijinks are soon forgotten, though, when Carl — whom the fast-food items like a lot more than he likes them — is endangered by a robotic piece of exercise equipment they’ve unleashed called the Insane-o-flex. When the trio embark on a journey to save their friend, who is becoming disturbingly buff, they also learn about their own origins.

It turns out, for example, there was originally a fourth fast-food item called Chicken Bittle, voiced by “Army of Darkness” star Bruce Campbell. Former “Saturday Night Live” members Chris Kattan and Tina Fey also make cameo appearances, as does Neil Peart, drummer of the legendary Canadian rock band Rush.

Fans of the show will be happy to note that almost all minor characters appear, including the Moonites and Dr. Weird. No concessions have been made for mass-market appeal, either. As Master Shake says at one point, “It’s all David Cronenberg up in here.” But funnier — if you like that kind of thing.

***

TITLE: “Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theaters”

RATING: R (crude and sexual humor, violent animated images and language)

CREDITS: Written and directed by Matt Maiellaro and Dave Willis. Based on the television series “Aqua Teen Hunger Force” created by Mr. Maiellaro and Mr. Willis.

RUNNING TIME: 86 minutes

WEB SITE: www.kingcolon.com

MAXIMUM RATING: FOUR STARS

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