By Will Ross
Rarely do I call a movie unwatchable, but for Foodfight I will make an exception. I’ve racked my brains, but can’t find a way to explain Foodfight. I mean I can give you a synopsis: it’s an animated film of such staggering ineptitude that it shows neither its decade-long development nor its $65 million budget. But I am honestly at a loss to explain to you how fucking terrible the thing is with any kind of clarity or concision.
Of course, there are some godawful animated films of equal or greater technical incompetence, at least in terms of the animation itself. Foodfight manages to surpass all those films by failing on every other level of craftsmanship — editing, direction, scripting, whatever. To use Hollywood jargon, it is a triple-threat of sucking. When Threshold Entertainment first announced the project in the early 2000s, founder and director Larry Kasanoff touted his studio as “the next Pixar” with apparent sincerity, but somehow I doubt we’ll be replacing Buzz Lightyear with an anthropomorphic private eye named “Dex Dogtective” any time soon (Dogtective because the main character is a dog, who is also a detective, who is also voiced by Charlie Sheen).
So determined was Threshold to stack up to Pixar that the premise of their movies proved to be a hastier rip-off than a discount circumcision. Their plot: when the owner of a supermarket closes up for the night, it turns into a city, and the mascots for each brand, called “icons”, wake up and live their own lives. In theory, that doesn’t sound like too bad of an idea, but here comes the “but.”
Foodfight has one of the most incoherent worlds of any fantasy film I’ve ever seen, in seemingly every way possible. I mean, what the fuck? The ubiquitous product placement — with Mr. Clean, the California Raisins and Mrs. Butterworth all being walking and talking characters — and endless cringe worthy food puns make it clear that we’re in a fantasy version of a supermarket. The two rules of that world said at the beginning of the movie are that they can’t be seen by humans or leave the supermarket. Needless to say characters leave the supermarket whenever it’s convenient and there is one huge plot point where one character interacts with the humans via a giant Parkinsonian Christopher Lloyd robot (I wish I was fucking kidding).
If you can look at the thing and suppress your gag reflex, it is funny; a true paragon of so-bad-it’s-good moviemaking, one whose jerky animations, bungled detail work, and utter lack of logic make for a hilariously protracted trainwreck of moviemaking. The film’s literally hundreds of food puns and references to Casablanca are so persistently unfunny that they become a spectacle all on their own. The editing and spastic camera movements stagger the film forward like a horrible Frankenstein’s creation, and give the constant mayhem an absurdist punch.
It is utterly useless to describe any characters or their relationships. It’s barely better to talk about the way the noirish plot turns inexplicably into a half-assed war movie pitting the product icons (termed “Ikes”) against the Nazis.
Yep, you read that right, the antagonists are the actual Nazis, who are seeking to exterminate the Ikes and replace their products with the mysterious Brand X. Couple that with a romantic subplot, involving Dex Dogtective and then 16-year-old cat-girl Hilary Duff, and you have something truly abysmal.
The film’s plot is so loaded with contradictions, loose ends, and non sequiturs, it may be impossible to comment upon them in any detail without suffering a brain aneurysm. And on a visual level, there is zero consistency of style (perhaps because the bulk of Threshold animators were outsourced and worked from home).
Obviously, Threshold failed to live up to the prestige of Pixar: the film was eventually auctioned off for $2.5 million and is plainly one of the most atrocious pieces of work I’ve ever seen, from all involved and at all times. But it is, nonetheless, a one-of-a-kind achievement, easily the most staggeringly bad 10th-rate animation I’ve ever seen. Its sheer ignorance of its own shortcomings clash so resoundingly with its ambition (and we are talking about the storytelling ambition of a
12-year-old) that Foodfight is a one-ofa-kind surreal comedy experience. You really need to see it to believe it; there is absolutely nothing good to be found, be it in concept or execution.
In conclusion, after watching this movie a second time to write this revi-BAAARRRRFF BARF BARRFFF BAAAARF BBBAAARRRRRFFFFFFF BARF BARRRF BARRF BARF BAAAARF BBAAARF B A R F F F B B B A A A R R R R R R R R F BAAAAAAARRRFFFFFF
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