The Shithouse finally tackling an animated feature? It must really be special.
First, weÂll deal with the facts. Foodfight! was conceived over a decade ago by the gutsy team at Threshold Animation Studios. Initially, a 2003 Christmas release was announced. Red carpets, critical praise, long lines, and much more to follow. Then, in a shocking development, the filmÂs files, according to creator Larry Kasanoff, were stolen in a despicable act of Âindustrial espionage.Â Apparently, this was one dangerous motion picture. Maybe Pixar was jealous. Perhaps the Hollywood elite didnÂt like the young, Wellesian upstart. Or someone just lost the floppy disk one drunken evening. Still, Foodfight! might change animation forever! It was delayed until 2005. More deals and nervous wrangling pushed it back to 2007. Someone spilled coffee on the directorÂs lone remaining keyboard. The studio subsequently defaulted on its loans. An auction followed. Finally, a backer emerged and here we are. From a budget of $65 million to a $73,706 box office. Many were fired. Others were shot. ItÂs the most tantalizing tale of hubris since HeavenÂs Gate.
But it was worth the wait, right? I mean, thatÂs one hell of a budget.
I realize Mr. Kasanoff is a tender soul who likely lost everything. His house, his family, his sanity, maybe even his life. If he survived, heÂs almost certainly in Argentina. But letÂs face it Â Foodfight! is the worst cartoon ever made. I have to believe a vast majority of the $65 million went to legal fees and bribes, because it sure as shit ainÂt on the screen. ItÂs a dark, spotty, clunky, painfully antiquated mess, as if someone had just gotten around to seeing that Dire Straits video. It wouldnÂt even be cutting edge for 1989. ThereÂs a sad lifelessness to the characters, with the whole thing smelling curiously unfinished. You know, as if they ran out of money and had to do something to avoid jail time. Sure, they managed to swing Charlie Sheen, Hilary Duff, and Eva Longoria, but IÂm fairly certain none of them were actually paid. Rumor has it, each was given 33.3% of the gross. It seemed reasonable at the time.
Okay, so itÂs not Toy Story. ArenÂt you being a little hard on the poor thing? It tried, dammit.
Sure, most films aimed at children are far from pure. TheyÂre always selling something, from cheap toys to greasy cheeseburgers. If kids fall in love with a character on the screen, itÂs usually because they want something plush to squeeze when they get home. Foodfight!, however, cuts to the chase. It wonÂt feature product placements, it will itself be a product placement. The entire fucking movie. Charlie Tuna, Mrs. Butterworth, Mr. Clean, Twinkie the Kid, the California Raisins Â all will not only stop by, theyÂll be the very message of the movie. A most insidious message, given the target audience. In short, brand names are the only route to happiness; to individuality, the very freedom we cherish as a people. Lock in as a child, or face disillusionment as an adult. Through the consumption of well-known goods, unending joy will ensue. Seek the foreign, the unknown, the less expensive, and youÂre a rank comformist, even a Nazi. SheenÂs Dex Dogtective is pretty clear: ÂDoing fun things like eating donuts is what weÂre fighting for!Â Shit, we invaded Iraq for less. Our brave soldiers, bleeding and dying for the rights of the obese.
Oh, please. Spare me the anti-capitalist propaganda. Lighten the fuck up.
We begin in Marketropolis. After dark, all the products come alive and the fun begins. Dex, a crime-fighting pooch, is our hero, and heÂs in love with Sunshine Goodness, a raisin spokesperson. SheÂs peppy and attractive, and I think sheÂs a cat. At least she has cat ears and teeth. But her body? A sexy young woman, with legs to burn. And a short skirt revealing, well, everything, if the wind is right. WhatÂs on your mind, Sunshine? ÂLetÂs have a picnic! WeÂll have Chef Boyardee fix us a spread! WeÂll play stickball with Mr. Clean!Â Did I mention she has massive tits? Dex wants to get married, but the timing is off. Sunshine, however, is all about innuendo: ÂIt warms my heart the way you love my raisins, tough guy.Â The proposal can wait. Six months suddenly pass, and Sunshine has been kidnapped.
Okay, so you have a few product placements. And? ThatÂs hardly offensive.
When we return to the story, the massive, well-oiled Brand X has decided to invade the grocery store. Their mission? Get rid of all the brand names and replace them with cheaper, less exciting knockoffs. To a product, theyÂre all ugly, spoiled, and unappealing, while the brand names have big tits and winning personalities. How best to accomplish this takeover? Why, use Lady X (Longoria) to seduce Dex, render him powerless, and institute martial law. First, a tango. Lady X, herself the beneficiary of incredible jugs, uses her wiles as a gymnast to distract Dex from her plot. ÂHow about joining me in a warm rinse,Â she coos. ÂIÂm not that dirty,Â he replies. He continues: ÂThere are some stains you can never wash out.Â Because Charlie Sheen should be discussing stains in a kidÂs movie. Quick as a whip, Lady X sneers, ÂLet me scrub your bubbles, Dex.Â Our hero isnÂt biting, so Lady X walks off with DexÂs standard black sidekick, Daredevil Dan, instead. HeÂs smitten: ÂDanÂs your man! Melts in your mouth, not in your hand.Â Lady X grabs him with purpose. ÂWhat can I say,Â he reasons. ÂChicks dig chocolate.Â Anyone else feel like throwing up?
Sexualizing childrenÂ .Big deal, itÂs just a part of modern life, no?
I forgot a few other Daredevil Dan bon mots. While flying above, he spies Sweet Cakes, a well-endowed Latina wearing what appears to be animationÂs first tube top: ÂHow about some chocolate frosting?Â he inquires. Rebuffed, he yells, ÂIÂd like to butter your muffin!Â IÂm an anything goes sort of guy, but clearly this movie should be banned.
HmmÂ I guess thatÂs inappropriate, but that Banana Club is kind of cool.
You mean the place where the California Raisins play? Or where the Vlasic Pickle bird dances with Charlie Tuna? Or where, after Dex asks, ÂGot milk?Â, heÂs answered with, ÂDo I look like the Dairy Queen to you?Â And what about the riot that ensues, where Paul Bunyan and some Viking bitch-slap each other? Both have lisps, in case you donÂt get it. And then thereÂs that swishy vampire bat who keeps flirting with Dan: ÂWith you on my backÂ .Not that IÂd mind that.Â Dan even utters, ÂI didnÂt even get a chance to play lick the icing with Sweet Cakes.Â Someone needs to be arrested.
But Lady X has a killer line! Come on, admit it.
ÂDonÂt cry for me, Charlie Tuna.Â Okay, thatÂs cute. Because first graders will get an Evita reference.
Okay, so brand names are sacred, and kids are being exposed to more smut than a Joe Eszterhas screenplay. When does it really get bad?
How about Nazis? For the wee ones, mind you. The lead Brand X henchman speaks with a thick German accent. When the ÂX-obitesÂ patrol the streets, they goose step. And use that infamous salute. The brand icons, called ÂikesÂ (which rhymes withÂ ), are hunted down like dogs. To use Lady XÂs words, spoken atop a massive structure invoking Nuremberg, she roars, ÂSend the ikes to the expiration station! They are the undesirables! Exterminate them all!Â A chant soon ensues: ÂOne world, one X! One store, one X!Â The crowd mindlessly shouts its approval. When the battle begins, itÂs like the assault on Poland. Wave after wave of ketchup tanks, whip cream rockets, and yes, even the Luftwaffe.Â And in case you think IÂm looking too much into this, when Lady XÂs second in command is captured, he cries, ÂI was just following orders!Â Eichmann, it seems, is alive and well and living at the Piggly Wiggly.
This war you speak of, is it successful? Does Brand X take over Eastern Europe, I mean, the grocery store?
Dex and his righteous brand names fight back, and hard (United Supermarket Defense Association). They use hot chocolate to fend off stormtroopers. Mrs. Butterworth tosses pancakes from atop a building. Fruit pies are launched like V-2Âs. Morale is boosted at the Copabanana. Numerous Casablanca allusions follow, ensuring the full attention of beaming 5-year-olds. Dex finally locates Sunshine, but sheÂs been tortured and transformed into a shell of her former self. ÂBrand X turned your sweetness into something vile,Â he drips. Dex confronts Lady X one last time: ÂYou cold-farted itch!Â he screams. She flees. Sunshine is rescued, and the battle hits the streets. It seems the human Brand X villain is actually a robot, and Lady X controls it from within. SheÂs further exposed as the recalled organic prune product, outraged that she didnÂt sell because she was positioned next to unhealthy, sugary shit that everyone loved. So she skipped off to Brazil, got plastic surgery, and came back for revenge. ÂAre those melons real?Â asks Daredevil Dan. They are. And they still have some fight left in Âem. Sunshine Âchin slaps her back to ugly,Â and the ruse is over. Send her to the expiration station!
But what about all the brand name icons that were immobilized by the elixir? Will we ever get back to normal?
An antidote is found, the ÂikesÂ are resurrected, and the store once again offers top of the line merchandise for twice the price. Balance restored! Dex and Sunshine finally get married, and to complete the circle, the groom steps on a bottle of milk covered in cloth, revealing himself as one of the chosen people. A rabbi also stands nearby for clarity. And you thought this wasnÂt a Nazi parable.
A Jewish dog marries a shiksa half-cat? Oy vey.
You think you got problems. The closing credits show us a penguin with noticeable human breasts flirting with a nerdy bird. He backs off when he canÂt get it up. At least thatÂs the implication.
What about the sequel? WeÂre left with more than a hint.
Wait another ten years. WeÂll be ready.