Film reviews and more since 2009

Aqua Teen Forever: Plantasm (2023) review

Dir. Matt Maiellaro and Dave Willis

By: Steve Pulaski

Rating: ★★½

It’s been nearly seven years since Aqua Teen Hunger Force concluded its improbable run on Adult Swim. Its premise was one of fever-dreams: a trio of anthropomorphic fast food items were tasked with saving the universe but spent most of the slight, 15-minute runtimes bitching and moaning at each other. For any twentysomething, it was optimal viewing post-witching hour, when the high had settled in, the munchies were secured, and whatever unfolded on TV was so funny, you couldn’t remember it after you woke up later in the morning (or afternoon).
Following the release of Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theaters — still the first and only Adult Swim movie ever to see a theatrical release — talk of a sequel persisted. Maybe you’ve been anticipating one since the days when it was called “Death Fighter.” Maybe you’re just looking for something to make you smile amidst all the calamity and uncertainty plaguing our world today. Well, at last (?), Aqua Teen Forever: Plantasm is here, ostensibly designed as a 76-minute vehicle to make you turn off your brain, encourage the assistance of chemical reinforcement, and remind you what a moron you are for wasting those precious minutes of your life you’ll never get back.
Plantasm opens with Master Shake (voiced by Dana Snyder), Frylock (Carey Means), and Meatwad (Dave Willis) attempting to save the world amidst another catastrophe, this one in the form of a shape-shifting Carl (Willis), who turns into a spider creature. Cut to present day and the three members of the “Aqua Teen” squad loathe each other: Shake is homeless, Frylock has gone on to work for an enormous corporation known as Amazin (subtle, yes), and Meatwad temporarily lives at a dog-pound.
The threadbare plot follows an Elon Musk-esque tech mogul named Neil (Peter Serafinowicz), the owner of Amazin, whose creation, known as “Plantasm,” is able to sprout in a matter of seconds and attack any/everything in sight. Shake and Meatwad struggle to get by as Frylock thrives in a fast-paced corporate environment, working as an IT technician, until a series of (un?)fortunate events have them reconnecting — with Carl in tow) — in order to save the planet.
Interrupting the movie more-than-a-few times are the Mooninites, Ignignokt and Err (Willis and Matt Maiellaro, respectively). The two famous faces of the “2007 Boston bomb scare” pop up at random times to pause the movie and remind us what idiots we are to have spent money on it in the first place. Silly them. While Plantasm was released on Blu-Ray and DVD back in November, I waited until its HBO Max release to stream it. Despite this small loophole, their interruptions proved to be the best part of the movie.
At one point, Ignignokt and Err encourage viewers to text a word to a specific number. My girlfriend — what had never watched a single minute of Aqua Teen Hunger Force before this film — gave it a go, and was inundated with wild, unhinged text messages (see above) for the subsequent two hours. The spontaneity of the messages combined with the unpredictability left us in greater suspense than almost anything unfolding on-screen.
Aqua Teen Forever: Plantasm suffers from the same fate as its predecessor (and the show, ultimately) in that a series of absurd and random events hurls the entire project off the rails. Seasoned viewers of the show — which was recently renewed for a twelfth season — might be able to keep up. Casual viewers such as myself will feel dizzied and hurried. Like the fast food meal that is its main characters, the second Aqua Teen Hunger Force movie might be momentarily satisfying, but it’s empty calories in a meal that will be mostly forgotten as quickly as it was watched.
NOTE: Aqua Teen Forever: Plantasm is now streaming on HBO Max and available on DVD and Blu-ray. It is set to premiere on Adult Swim on March 12th, 2023.
Voiced by: Dana Snyder, Carey Means, Dave Willis, Matt Maiellaro, Peter Serafinowicz, and Paul Walter Hauser. Directed by: Matt Maiellaro and Dave Willis.
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About Steve Pulaski

Steve Pulaski has been reviewing movies since 2009 for a barrage of different outlets. He graduated North Central College in 2018 and currently works as an on-air radio personality. He also hosts a weekly movie podcast called "Sleepless with Steve," dedicated to film and the film industry, on his YouTube channel. In addition to writing, he's a die-hard Chicago Bears fan and has two cats, appropriately named Siskel and Ebert!

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