Seth Rogan’s animated film Sausage Party is coming out soon. No matter what happens, it’s guaranteed not to be the worst cartoon movie about things coming to life in a supermarket – that title will forever belong to Foodfight.
USA, 2012, Lawrence Kasanoff
For those who don’t want to watch a video, because maybe you’re reading this on the toilet at work and don’t want to seem weird, here’s an image from the start of the film.
Now, at this point, I should tell you that this film is either a completely misguided passion project from Lawrence Kasanoff, the man best known for producing True Lies and the Mortal Kombat movies, or some kind of insurance scam.
Let’s back up, all the way to 2002, the year that this film started production. Work was completed on the film to the point where a trailer was released. Then the film was stolen. That’s right, the hard drives containing all of the animations from Foodfight were stolen. Backup? What’s a backup? Here’s the original trailer for reference.
It’s an improvement, not much of an improvement, but there’s certainly more advanced animation. Of course, it still looks like garbage (Monsters Inc. and Shrek came out in 2001), so it raises some questions, like did Kasanoff burn the hard drives or smash them with a baseball bat?
After this mishap (?), Foodfight missed deadline after deadline. In 2007, the film’s investors invoked a clause that gave the insurance company involved, Fireman’s Fund, the right to step in and get the damned thing finished as quickly as possible. It then sat on the shelf until 2012, when Fireman’s Fund got the full copyright for Foodfight and quietly released the film on DVD, right beside Rango, Cars 2 and The Adventures of Tintin.
There’s more in this great New York Times article, which also mentions that ‘Mr. Kasanoff would request that things be “more awesome” or “30 percent better” and didn’t understand why someone trained in texture couldn’t do modelling work.’
Sometimes it’s hard to see where a film could’ve gone so wrong, but sometimes it is not.
Now onto the horrifying film itself. Foodfight is set in a supermarket, where the brand mascots (called icons, or ikes for short) come to life after the doors close. When I say supermarket, I mean some kind of magical kingdom/supermarket hybrid. At the centre of this world is Dex Dogtective, voiced by Charlie Sheen, possibly over the phone and probably with a hangover. Well, he’s the main character, the centre of this movie is product placement. All of the side characters in this movie are actual mascots from real products. Most of them don’t mean much to this Australian, but having a cast of supermarket staples in a kids film is the most blatant in-film advertising since Mac and Me.
Oh, did I mention that the bad guys in this film are a generic brand called Brand X and that they are basically Nazis?
Thought I was kidding?
So how is this thinly disguised smear campaign against generic brands set up? Well, Dex is a shit-hot detective (or dogtective, whatever) with a girlfriend (Hillary Duff) so sweet she is called Sunshine Goodness and a best friend called Daredevil Dan (he’s a stunt pilot, these characters write themselves), a made-up chocolate mascot voiced by Wayne Brady, who should be above such a stereotypical character.
Sunshine is kidnapped and that kicks off the spiral that sends Dex off the rails, turning him into a fiend for milk (the inexplicable substitute for booze). This is when Brand X and their leader, Lady X (Eva Longoria), enter the scene. The entire cast of villains are ridiculous, not to mention inappropriate for children. The only baddie that belongs in a PG film is Christopher Lloyd’s over-the-top Mr. Clipboard, who is called that because he walks into the store with a clipboard and brings in Brand X food. He is glorious.
Lady X, the main antagonist, is surely the most overtly sexual character to grace a family movie. She spends the first half of the movie flat-out trying to seduce Dex, and invites constant innuendo (like saying ‘chicks dig chocolate’ when she goes home with Daredevil Dan). All this with Eva Longoria’s best sensual tones, because she must have read the script and thought it was for adults.
And then there’s the Nazis, I mean the generals, whatever. If they look like a duck, walk like a duck (or goose) and talk in German accents, then they’re a duck. A Nazi duck. There’s Lieutenant X, a masochist (he says that something’s ‘even better than a spanking’ at one point) voiced by Jeff Bennett (the voice of Johnny Bravo) doing a Hans Gruber impression. There’s General X, voiced by Jerry Stiller doing a shit German accent, and some big ugly woman who’s probably called Helga.
Most of the so-bad-its-good laughs come from a combination of the glitchy, bargain PS2 game graphics and awful direction from Lawrence ‘make it 30% better’ Kasanoff. He also wrote the script, which as well as featuring stacks of innuendo, contains many groan-worthy puns and plays on famous lines. One of the final lines is ‘frankly my dear, I don’t give a spam.’ I’ll just leave it at that. Oh, and Dex calls Lady X a cold-farted itch at one point.
Kasanoff also lends his voice to the most nightmare-inducing character of the film, Cheasel T. Weasel. He is a glitchy, super sleazy weasel that defies physics and your expectations of how creeped out you can be by a supposedly family-friendly character. So, I guess he’s responsible for everything wrong with this film.
See that thing in the top right corner? That is a sex doll.
More nightmare fuel rears its head as the film tumbles towards the end of its 91-minute runtime, in which the enemy buildings are destroyed by lightning (supermarkets certainly have their own climates, don’t ask dumb questions), Lady X’s real identity is revealed – she is an ugly prune mascot, because the moral here is ugly people are gross – and everything is great again. Except it’s not because this is what customers look like in this movie.
Foodfight is a completely inexplicable film. Ten years, $65 million, a stellar cast and the misguided vision of an industry veteran has resulted in an ugly, ridiculous mess that shouldn’t have made it to release, but I’m glad it did.