Aqua Teen Movie Not Very Good

Yes, yes, you’re saying, “in other news: Pope Catholic.” I’m sure the Mother Jones editors are like “what kind of dimwitted yokel is this so-called Party Ben, sullying our esteemed web site with blather about the latest stoner cartoon.” Indeed. But in my defense, “Aqua Teen Hunger Force,” the show, was at one point the funniest, oddest thing on television, belying its rep as “TV for slackers” with rapid-fire dialog that rewarded repeat viewings. Like “Monty Python,” the best episodes built a bizarro world of utter nonsense, but then respected this world’s inner logic, and pushed the rules to their logical, insane conclusions. The strange format of 12- or 13-minute episodes made the action dense and rollicking, like a great comic short story.

We all knew the movie was a crazy idea, but I secretly had high hopes: like the long-rumored “Sprockets” project, it seemed almost zen-like in its willingness to take a concept so completely ridiculous and barely even there, and stretch it out to fit the length of a feature film. If it worked, it would be the greatest thing ever, really. But this kind of trick is a real high-wire act, and the producers seemed to just give up. The film opens with a brilliant song urging good movie-going behavior that should be shown before every feature (“why did you bring your baby to this film / take it out and leave it in the street!”), but then it’s downhill from there, with long stretches of filler and little of the transcendently silly dialog from the best episodes. I probably spent a majority of the movie feeling a bit depressed and embarrassed. Plus, worst of all, they didn’t include the frat aliens (from a mid-Season Two episode when the show was at its creative peak), whose boozy, weirdly homoerotic actions are made all the more hilarious because, well, they’re aliens. Watch that episode here. And Mother Jones, I promise I’m not stoned! I just like surreal comedy. Hopefully Adult Swim can have mercy, put Aqua Teen to rest, and come up with something else just as brilliant.