DVD REVIEW: "FoodFight!"

Reviews
by Greg Ehrbar
May 8, 2013 2:12 AM
4 Comments
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Editor's Note: In 2004, an animation studio named Threshold Entertainment and Motion Picture Magic (a product placement company) teamed up to produce a "food" version of Toy Story. The idea was that the film would team 80 name-brand products and their associated characters, including Mr. Clean, Cap’n Crunch, Charlie the Tuna, the Engergizer Bunny and the Brawny paper towel man in an adventure set in a supermarket city — with a voice cast including Charlie Sheen, Eva Longoria, Ed Asner, Chris Kattan and Christopher Lloyd. The film was in production for several years - with no announced distributor or release date. In 2007, Lionsgate announced they were picking up the film, but that never happened. In 2011, International Film Gauarantors auctioned off the negative to the film when Threshold defaulted on their loans. At long last, the film was released on DVD last year in Europe - and yesterday (May 7th) the film was finally released on the US by Vivendi Entertainment. 

It is truly one of the worst animated films ever made. Need proof? Here's the trailer: 

Our intrepid DVD reviewer, Greg Ehrbar, has now seen the entire film. His full review is below. - Jerry Beck


Foodfight! 
With the voices of: Charlie Sheen, Hilary Duff, Eva Longoria, Wayne Brady, Christopher Lloyd, Ed Asner, Chris Kattan, Larry Miller, Christine Baranski, Cloris Leachman, Harvey Fierstein
Directed by Lawrence Kasanoff

It's too easy to take a production like Foodfight! and lob snarky comments at it. Well okay, just one. The characters in this film over-move, like Ed Grimley on that Saturday Night Live sketch when he found out he was going to meet Pat Sajak. 

But snark is too easy. Figuring out how it happened is almost unfathomable. Let's start with the premise, which is something like those Warner cartoons in which a grocery store came to life after hours and the products sang and danced on the shelves. 

In this case, the aisles become like multi-national city streets. The lead character (voiced by Charlie Sheen either within a very short one-take recording session or deliberately to sound cool and detached) is a cross between Indiana Jones and McGruff the Crime Dog. 

All of the primary characters are fictional product icons, while a procession of actual food and grocery item characters, including Mister Clean, Charlie the Tuna and Mrs. Butterworth make cameos. Endless images of real logos and packages make appearances throughout. Perhaps the idea was to have the product placement cover the budget.

But the budget and the whole production were apparently a total bust. The film was eventually put up for auction and got a limited release overseas, even though it was finished seven years ago. 

Much of it doesn't even look finished -- characters and objects shake, overlap and often don't look anchored in their settings. The characters don't seem in scale with each other, nor from scene to scene. 

The creepy villains look grotesque, but so do some of the "nice" characters -- like the evil Mister X and the grocery store manager. Even the copyrighted characters are mere shadows of their former selves as we saw them in commercials. All seem made of PVC and have eyes like marbles.

There are moments in which one might glimpse at what could have been. The premise is kind of clever and there are some amusing moments, like an army of ketchup tanks, along with some spectacular graphics of the cityscape. The concrete objects far exceed the "living ones" in design and execution.

But the script is splattered with lines like "What the fudge!" "You cold-farted itch!" and famous tag lines that might have worked if used more judiciously. And you can look forward to flatulence and a long-playing belch. 

I don't like to dump on movie misfires when they're often the product of hard work by good people. And some of these films are fascinating, even likable, despite how the don't, or didn't, work. Often there's more to learn from misses than from hits. 

The credits for Foodfight! include some of the best talent in the business. I cannot imagine everyone who was brought into this project had any idea what might have been going on behind the scenes, nor how the "final" film would turn out. 

The DVD itself, with a picture image showing quite a bit of contrast, does not include any bonus features, except for some trailers -- including one for Top Cat - The Movie.


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4 Comments

  • Mario500 | May 11, 2013 1:30 PMReply

    "Let's start with the premise, which is something like those Warner cartoons in which a grocery store came to life after hours and the products sang and danced on the shelves"

    I don't believe Warner Brothers released any animated cartoons involving items in a grocery store coming to life. The author probably misremembered the cartoons with the characters from books coming to life and typed "grocery store" by mistake.

  • Fred Patten | May 16, 2013 11:53 AM

    Sure, there were! What about the Merry Melodies “The Dish Ran Away With the Spoon”, which is set in a bakery, not a bookshop or a market, or “How Do I Know It’s Sunday”, which is set in a general store (there were few kitchen-specific markets yet in 1934 except in the biggest cities), or “Those Beautiful Dames”, which had toys coming to life? The Leon Schlesinger/WB animators were bringing shop merchandise to life well before they got to bookshops. “How Do I Know It’s Sunday” used to be shown all the time on kids’ TV in the 1950s.

  • Jonathan | May 9, 2013 6:49 AMReply

    What happened Christopher Lloyd? :-(

  • Skywryter | May 8, 2013 7:45 PMReply

    I hear the guy running Threshold was-is quite a charmer; one former employee likened him to a Russian mafiosi/ oligarch on the lam.

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