(NOTE: This isn't the "old friend" I said we'd be catching up with last week. That was just delivered a few days ago, but a few other more immediate things popped up and I will get to it next week, I promise.)
It feels like ages ago when I found that lonely book-that-makes-sounds adaptation of the troubled animated film "Food Fight", doesn't it? (And oh dear, the format of this blog during it's first year.) Since then, it felt as though "Food Fight" was going to end up being one of those strange pieces of animation lost to history that I'd never get to see. Then again, this was a film that was explicitly a feature-length commercial with various advertising mascots as the characters. With visions of a movie-length version of the astonishing ill-conceived mall scene in "Eight Crazy Nights" in my head, I wasn't too heartbroken over missing out.
Well, turns out somebody out there in the vast seas of the internet acquired a copy of "Food Fight". That kind soul decided, for reasons that are unclear, to stream the thing on an ongoing 24-hour loop. And out of morbid curiosity, plus the fact that OCD is a hell of a psychological problem and I have to tie up loose ends whenever I can, I watched the whole damned thing from the beginning.
I'm always kind of grudgingly impressed when I already know that a movie is going to be a worthless piece of crap just based off its reputation, but then that movie actually turns out to be even more horrible in every imaginable way. Furthermore, "Food Fight" is horrible for many reasons that nobody could ever imagine. Yes, we've got ourselves a fascinatingly bad movie here. I'd go so far as to call it the "Manos: the Hands of Fate" of animation. It's that inept and insane. (And speaking of classic "Mystery Science Theater 3,000" episodes, nobody has learned from the "Overdrawn at the Memory Bank" episode never to allude to good movies in their terrible movies. Hell, "Food Fight" goes ahead and makes a lot of weird references to "Casablanca". Yeah.)
So first off, obviously the fact that there are real life advertising mascots in this movie that was probably going to itself be marketed towards young children (even though it is really not appropriate for anyone) is disgusting. But the thing is, here are far fewer advertising mascots than I had been led to anticipate from all the reports of "Food Fight" over at Cartoon Brew (which also have some incredible war stories from people who worked on the film in the comments). None of the mascots who do show up are the "stars" of the movie. In fact, most of them only show up as very brief sight gags. And furthermore, and most puzzling, they're all advertising mascots that were either already kind of obscure in 2005 (the California Raisins show up for Pete's sake), or who represent products that kids tend to not be all that emotionally invested in (ie, syrup and floor cleaner). If this was meant to be the ultimate product placement movie, then it's remarkably bad at achieving even that dubious honor.
The name-brand products in "Food Fight" are therefore mostly fictional. At any rate, they're at war with their nefarious off-brand generic equivalents. The vilification of generic brands is genuinely despicable and, honestly, making it through this film made me want to support every strange generic off-brand product I see.
So already the movie is morally repugnant, but I kind of figured that already. What I never could have anticipated was how incredibly incompetent and ugly "Food Fight" is, given all the companies that were supposedly supporting it and all the stars in the cast. As far as the latter is concerned, I would not dare spoil the fun by naming anyone here. But your brain will probably crap itself during the voice cast list. And I'm guessing that the reason why certain mascots who were supposed to show up in the movie didn't is because their owners sat down, watched the movie, and bailed as soon as possible.
"Food Fight" is easily the worst-looking CGI animated feature I've ever seen. The whole thing looks like the dirt-cheap dollar-bin cash-in of itself. It's hard to even describe it, because I have never seen anything this inept before. It looks like it's only the second or maybe third pass after the wireframe stage. The more I think about it, the more I'm trying to convince myself that there is no way in hell that the version of the movie I watched was the final version. Nobody in their right mind would sign off on a feature-length piece of animation where everything looks very literally like sh*t.
The animation is so terrible, it's actually hard to tell what the hell is supposed to be happening at any given moment. Nothing moves -nothing even looks- like anything anyone has ever observed in this universe. It's unreal how the most basic principles of sequential art and animated art are ignored or even violated in every scene. I'm talking about things you'd learn the first week of drawing class, like how drapery looks and how it works, or the fact that different substances look different and move in different ways, or how gravity affects objects in a space, or how people have skeletons with joints in specific places and muscles that visibly change shape when they move. There is one character in particular -an annoying comedy relief weasel-thing- who does not move or behave like any healthy living thing in the history of ever.
And that brings us to the characters. Now, we've seen a lot of movies with eye-bleeding character designs before (what's up, "We're Back"?), but somehow the herky-jerk nature of cheap CGI makes everything look even more terrible than it already is. The character's faces are so stiff and expressionless, they end up having to flay their arms around to express whatever is on their minds. Imagine Ralph Bakshi's "Lord of the Rings" and you have the idea, except everyone looks unflexible, mechanical, and totally unaffected by normal physics.
A couple of things make the characters more awkward and awful than they already are. First off, do you miss all those uncomfortable stereotypes from the early 80's? Because if you do, you will find some here. The "jokes" in the movie on a whole would make Piers Anthony proud as they are a discordant mix of childish puns and inappropriate sleazy gross humor anyway, but the mind-blowing sight of old offensive stereotypes stood out (WTF forever at the gay panic vampire bat thing) and I don't even want to know what they're doing in a feature film made in Twenty-Anything. I also don't ever want to meet the person who approved of that horrifying Catgirl thing who never even looks at anyone she's supposed to be interacting with. She's named Sunshine Goodness, by the way, because this is the kind of movie that is stupid enough to name a character something as impossibly awkward as Sunshine Goodness. I am guessing that the only reason she is even a Catgirl is because she was originally a human but they figured it'd be weird to have her marry Dogtective (and this is the kind of movie that is stupid enough to name a character something like Dogtective), so they stuck cat ears on her and called it a day.
I do have one positive thing to say about "Food Fight": it is, like so many of the very worst animated films, mercifully short. And it's kind of heartwarming that a film so shameless and soulless in concept got as far as it did and never got a theatrical release; hell most people have never even heard of it. You may be lucky (if that's even the word) enough to still catch it as its pretty easy to search for. Meanwhile, everyone involved in the movie should take a moment and just sit and think about what they've brought into this world.
Sketch of the Day!