Forget Disney's "Frozen"; Watch "Foodfight!"
It doesn’t take a whole lot of searching to see that college-aged students love children’s animated films. Scroll down your Facebook newsfeed on a given day, and you’re bound to stumble upon some turkey posting the results from his/her insipid “Which Character From Disney’s Frozen Are You?” Buzzfeed quiz. (Hint: You are none of them, because they aren’t real.) The cross-generational appeal and monster success of a film like Frozen is actually pretty easy to parse out when you think about it: The movie tells a simple story, with a message devoid of the cynicism or irony that plagues so much of pop culture today; the visuals are crisp and look great on your new HD TV; some of the songs are actually kind of catchy, to the point of being grating.
Strange, then, that all of these qualities are noticeably absent from the far superior film Foodfight!, which stands as one of the greatest children’s entertainments ever spawned by the Hollywood-Industrial Complex. Ignore the movie’s 2.5 out of 10 rating on IMDB, because IMDB is run by a bunch of knuckle-dragging dinguses who wouldn’t know true art if it took a hot, meaty dump on their front porch.
Reportedly made on a budget of forty-five million US dollars, Foodfight! stars Charlie Sheen as Dex Dogtective, a freakishly anthropomorphized handsome dog who is also a detective. (Or is he a dogtective? The movie never distinguishes between whether dogtecting is a diegetic profession in itself, or just punning on detective work done by a dog. Truly another one of this great film’s impenetrable mysteries.)
Anyways, Dex is the hotshot super-sleuth in Marketopolis, a hidden city found in the back aisles of a chain grocery store. Marketopolis and its food mascot denizens—also known as “Ikes,” or icons—only come to life after all of the customers and staff have left the store for the night, a phenomenon which the film never bothers to address or elaborate upon with any logical consistency.
The resident Ikes include a cavalcade of familiar faces—from Mr. Clean, to the California Raisins, to Charlie the StarKist tuna—all of who will randomly wander into frame for a scene and not really do much of anything. For a film that exists pretty much solely for the purpose of product placement and brand peddling, the use or appeal of any of these products is never properly advertised. Some would call that incompetence, but I say it’s daring.
In fact, most of the recognizable brands in Foodfight! have no speaking parts whatsoever, which is actually a small blessing considering that the film’s script is fanatically devoted to making as many terrible food puns as dogtectively possible over the glacial 87 minute runtime, as opposed to, say, establishing characters to care about.
Most of said punnery spews forth, like a fountain of yellow cheese-whiz, from the mouths of Dex Dogtective, Dex’s dead-eyed smoking-hot beau Sunshine Goodness (Hillary Duff, in her best role to date), and Dex’s best friend Daredevil Dan (Wayne Brady), who is a chocolate squirrel that flies a plane.
I don’t want to reveal too much of Foodfight!’s plot because it’s like Chinatown on Krokodil, and there’s almost too much to unpack here. Needless to say that the story involves the rise of a Nazi-eqsue empire run by the hyper-sexualized Lady X (Eva Longoria), who is determined to murder or otherwise beat all of the other Ikes of Marketopolis into submissiveness.
No joke: A major conflict in Foodfight!, a film marketed at children, is the genocide of grocery store product mascots at the hands of a tiny lady in super-tight spandex, who is voiced by former Desperate Housewives star Eva Longoria. I felt on the brink of an aneurism just typing that last sentence, and the experience of actually watching this shit pan out on screen is doubly confounding/transcendental given the movie’s Pixar-trumping visual scheme. Seriously, John Lasseter had to have been shitting himself when he saw Foodfight!, which almost certainly never happened.
Ultimately, all of Foodfight!’s plot-related insanity serves as a moist cake for the spastic, plastic, primitive animation that is its delicious icing. It’s difficult to describe a modern children’s film as actively hateful, but Foodfight! clearly holds a high level of contempt for its audience that manifests itself in special effects that look like they were cribbed from a Windows 95 screensaver. For a film that literally cost tens of millions of dollars to produce, Foodfight!’s visuals feel dredged up from some abyssal graveyard that consists solely of the failed creative projects and crushed dreams of Devry University’s most remedial programmers.
According to Foodfight!’s Wikipedia page, the film made a mere $73,706 when it went into limited release in 2012, despite the presence of certifiably C- and D-list actors like Charlie Sheen, Hillary Duff, Evan Longoria, Wayne Brady, and Christopher Lloyd. But don’t let those low, low, very low box office receipts fool you: This is an indelible viewing experience, a singular fever dream of celluloid that will never be replicated and should be experienced by all.
Because of its empirical greatness, Foodfight! plays on a repeating 24-hour loop at http://www.livestream.com/charliesheendog. So skip the crowd-pleasing Frozen, check this shit out. Now please excuse me while I go tug one out to the giant poster of Dex Dogtective that’s hanging in my room.