Those who know me know I love Aqua Teen Hunger Force. Sometimes. The writers are good at finding things that are funny that other people don't. Sometimes. This series has been the source of several ten minute spurts of hilarity that may never be matched in my lifetime. But just some. And that's really the problem. Even for the initiated, indoctrinated Aqua Teen Hunger Force fan, a few of the shows just don't click. I think that Hand Banana was hilarious and Grim Reaper Gutters was pretty awful and Global Grilling is just ho hum. That's just this season.
One of the charms of the Adult Swim block on television is that if you don't like what's on, it's entirely possible that ten minutes from now, it won't be any more. If a joke falls flat for these writers on television, it's a short experience, easily forgotten by the viewer when he tunes in again and gets a hilarious payoff. In a movie theater, however, that particular privilege of their original format goes away and you're left with a film that's up and down and ultimately doesn't pay out as much as you might expect it to.
Now, don't get me wrong - fans of the show should buy the movie. The extras are thick and meaty, and the film is at least entertaining enough for a person well indoctrinated in the series that it will be more enjoyable than not. For a viewer who's never heard of this Aqua Teen Hunger Force thing, however, my sincerest advice is to run as far and as fast as you possibly can, because you will hate this movie. Not just dislike - hate.
Any time a movie doesn't even try for large segments of the audience (the majority, in this case), you have to rate it accordingly, particularly given the fact that fans of the show are only going to read these reviews to find something they disagree with and argue about it. So, yeah - average viewers, think of this three as more of a one and a half with a big fat caution.
Seriously, though - there were some pretty excellent gags. The opening parody reel ought to be shown before every single film released for the next ten years, because it's a neat and effective way of expressing what we're all thinking. After that, however, you get a sort of bumpy ride of chuckles and boredom. I didn't personally find large parts of the story to be that satisfying, and the whole thing seemed to me like the writers were straining a little bit.
There is reason for optimism, though. As a backer of the show, I have felt obliged to purchase this movie, and if only for the extras and the good parts, I think it was worth the money I paid for it. The film also turned over something like ten times its budget, so we might be able to reasonably expect this sort of treatment for other Adult Swim programming in the future. And, as I hope I've beaten into the ground by now, the funny bits are reasonably funny. I just have a hard time with a movie where as many of the gags fall flat as this one.
Bottom Line: this film is ONLY, and I will stress that ONLY part, for the already-established fan. If you're a new person looking into just what this Aqua Teen Hunger Force is all about, I'd have to recommend that you get started with the first or second season DVDs (I actually started with the fourth) and see if the show is at all to your liking before you consider picking up this movie.