It’s not too hard to imagine that the inspiration for this “Adult Swim” program came during a late night, cannabis fueled attack of the munchies. A short trip through the Golden Arches would provide all of the food for thought: A burger, fries, and a large milkshake. “Hey, man, what if these things were alive and could not only talk, but battle evil with some kind of random super powers?” Voila! Honestly I’ve channel surfed past this program on the Cartoon Network many times without ever having the urge to stop and take a look. It looked terrible, the characters were badly drawn and there didn’t seem to much going on except a lot of floating around. Having watched this movie now I’m actually sorry I didn’t. It’s no masterpiece but that’s the idea. If it were even vaguely respectable, the movie would have to annihilate itself.
That’s what makes this movie totally critic proof. If you say it sucks, then the defense is that it’s supposed to suck. If you love it then the defense is that it’s still supposed to suck. I mean, it’s a meatball, fries and a milkshake for crying out loud! It’s set in South Jersey and it’s an animated film that barely meets the basic qualifications of that category: movement. This is a bad movie that was designed that way from the start. All of the elements that go to make a good movie (strong characterization, engrossing plot, and clear themes) are intentionally left out. What’s left is 87 minutes of the most demented, random, free associative, and for me anyway, incredibly hilarious incidents that are way too inspired to be unified by something as rudimentary as a plot. How this experimental and incredibly subversive film was able to escape from the corporate headquarters of Time Warner Inc. is a real mystery.
Now there’s the bare bones of a plot but really why bother? The filmmakers didn’t. If you know the TV program, you know that the show always opens up with a seemingly important scene at the Jersey Shore castle headquarters of Dr. Weird who is shown doing something appropriately weird. This never has anything to do with the non-adventures of our fast food heroes. Which has nothing to do with anything else. This big screen adaptation is no different and the best way I can describe the truly indescribable experience of watching Colon Movie Film For Theaters is to just rattle off what happens in the first few minutes.
It all begins with a parody of the friendly old drive-in concession stand ads which are hijacked by heavy metal foods who scream that if you don’t turn off your cell phone they will find where you live and tear your wife in half. Or perhaps bite your torso and give you a disease. Following this, we find our heroes in Egypt sometime before the birth of Christ in the year 1492 in the city of New York. Stepping out of the Sphinx, the trio do battle with an enraged French poodle who is dispatched by Master Shake after Frylock is torn to shreds. Shake and Meatwad drive Frylock to an old witch doctor who happens to look like Abe Lincoln and runs a mad-scientist lab in a log cabin. When two FBI agents burst in, Honest Abe tells them to all get into his Volkswagen and head out to his wooden space rocket to escape. He faces down the FBI and laughs at them as he tries to escape through his time travel powers. They kill him before he can vanish and thus change history for the white man forever. That’s just the mindbending first 10 minutes.
Colon Movie Film For Theaters is barely a movie film at all and that’s part of it’s devilish charm. It challenges every notion of what a movie is supposed to consist of and of what we, the paying audience, expect from an adaptation of A TV show to the big screen. The near genius prologue featuring the drive in food “battle of the bands” states this directly as the heavy metal pretzel screams that, “Your money is now OUR money.” Which is why we’re here right? At least that’s why Time Warner was here. This all goes way beyond mere surrealism and satire into something truly Dadaist and confrontational. If you don’t like it too bad, they already got your money. This is a special edition two-disc set packed to the gills with extra features and real surprises. In fact, the second DVD is devoted completely to a whole other feature film version of the movie!
The first disc contains the actual movie film for theaters. There is a commentary track included and recorded by a host of random folks, none of whom are creators Matt Maiellaro or Dave Willis. These includes Patti Smith(yes, THAT Patti Smith), Todd Hanson from “The Onion“, Dana Snyder (the voice of Master Shake), SNL’s Fred Armisen(who played “Time“ Lincoln at the very least), and Smith’s son who joins in to tell us how his mother was confused with Patti Labelle once. It’s a great, rambling track and easily as entertaining as the film itself. Smith is hilariously deadpan throughout, and very well read on the subject of film, referencing Bunuel’s “Simon of the Desert” at one point. To round it off, you get some trailers, and a behind the scenes feature that shows you just how much this movie was personal and hand made.
The second disc features an alternate and rough-cut version of the movie. About a third of the movie is different(and well worth checking out) and parts of what was deleted are included as a bonus television episode and random deleted scenes, including a number of great fake endings to the movie. The added features on the second disc also include several music videos and making-of recording sessions featuring Mastodon, as well as a mock interview of Dana Snyder by “Mr. Show” ’s Bob Odenkirk.
The great thing about this DVD set is that it’s been made with the same care and irreverent tone as the movie itself. I was engrossed by all of it and amazed at some of the more obscure jokes peppered throughout. Without caring whether or not anyone would “get it” there are references to David Cronenberg’s Videodrome and the cinema of the late, great Bob Clark. Just like the movie, if you don’t get it, they don’t care. Your money is now their money. Turn off your cell phone!
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