Okay, easy part first. If you’re already a fan of Adult Swim’s flagship experiment in surrealist animated pseudo-comedy—which is to say, if you’ve voluntarily watched enough episodes to confirm that Aqua Teen Hunger Force involves nothing remotely aquatic, teenaged or forceful—odds are you’ll enjoy this movie, which is exactly like the TV show except six times as long. As expected, co-creators Matt Maiellaro and Dave Willis have made no concessions whatsoever to mainstream accessibility; not since Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back has a feature film played so unapologetically and exclusively to its established base. Beloved supporting characters—Ignignokt and Err, Oglethorpe and Emory, MC Pee Pants, the Cybernetic Ghost of Christmas Past from the Future—pop up throughout with neither explanation nor context, and the ratio of random nonsense to narrative coherence remains roughly 10:1. Even the animation (“featuring three new backgrounds!” boasts the trailer) is as defiantly crappy as ever. If you were worried about a sell-out, quit worrying. This is very much the ATHF you love.
As for the rest of you ... egad. It’s hard to think of another pop-culture phenomenon with such indescribable appeal. Most people’s initial response to the show is utter bafflement. Its ostensible premise—three anthropomorphic fast-food superheroes not fighting crime in suburban New Jersey—sounds like something dreamed up during a late-night weed-induced munchie run; its sense of humor, trading heavily in goofy voices, loopy non sequiturs and unmotivated antagonism, is as giddily anarchic as anything since the heyday of the Marx Brothers, albeit minus Groucho’s semi-civilizing knowingness. Instead, there’s raging id-demon Master Shake (voice of Dana Snyder), a milkshake who’s become increasingly vicious and unbalanced over the years; the infantile, barely comprehensible Meatwad (Willis), a shape-shifting ... wad of meat; and, in what’s essentially the Zeppo role, Frylock (Carey Means), a super-sized order of fries with a scientific bent, apparently inexhaustible reserves of patience and the voice of a tough-love principal.Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theaters—let’s just call this Colon Movie Film, shall we?—provides its trio with a perfunctory creation myth, and there’s also a skeletal plot, loosely derived from War of the Worlds, involving a deranged, world-threatening extraterrestrial exercise machine called the Insano-flex. None of that remotely matters, though, and it’s next to impossible to explain what does matter to the uninitiated. If you haven’t seen the Cybernetic Ghost of Christmas Past from the Future (Maiellaro), it’s not gonna help much if I tell you that I doubled over laughing every time he opened his mouth; the best I can do is assert that anything is funny when pronounced in the stentorian doomsday tone of a falsely prophetic robot prone to telling long-winded, foreboding anecdotes that go absolutely nowhere. Likewise, most of the film’s best jokes are so arbitrary that they only make sense in context, where they’re funny because they don’t make any sense and lack any kind of context. If that makes sense.Isn’t this sort of vicious dada comedy difficult to sustain for nearly an hour and a half? Frankly, yes, and the visual monotony doesn’t help much; unlike the South Park cut-out style, with its ovoid Colorform vibrancy, Adult Swim’s crude semi-animation doesn’t translate well to the big screen. Nor would I recommend for a moment that anybody plunge into this maelstrom of absurdity completely cold. But for those already in sync with the show’s perversely sadistic sensibility, Colon Movie Film offers enough hilarious moments to justify the price of admission. And even non-fans will eventually want to check out the film’s masterful pre-show jingle, in which a band of concession-snack mutants perform a heavy-metal ode to moviegoing courtesy: “Don’t talk, watch!/Don’t talk, watch!/You paid for this, watch it!/Don’t like it, walk out!” Indeed.