Saturday, August 17, 2013

Break It Down: The Curious Case of Foodfight!

   Hello and welcome to a new series I call "Break it Down," in which I break down some of Hollywood's more... peculiar cases and talk about what went wrong (or right). And what better way to start than with Foodfight!, a movie you have probably never heard of, even though it has an all-star cast and took ten years to make. There is so much to say about this movie, it's hard to decide where to begin. So, let's start with a summary.
   The movie is kinda like Toy Story, except in a grocery store and with much worse animation. The movie has a pretty impressive cast, including line-owner/deal-maker Wayne Brady and Christopher Lloyd, who was frozen today. The movie also features Charlie Sheen, Hilary and Haylie Duff, Chris Kattan, Larry Miller, Eva Longoria, Ed Asner, Jerry Stiller, Christine Baranski, Cloris Leachman, Edie McClurg, and Greg Ellis. Now, you're starting to see why it wasn't successful.
   Now, let's look at some history. The movie was made by Threshold Entertainment, a company that mostly makes theme park attractions, but has also produced several LEGO movies. This is the company behind most of the movie. I say "most" because the movie was actually auctioned off in 2011, and it was only then that it finally saw the light of day. The idea for this movie started with Larry Kasanoff, who is most notable, I repeat, MOST NOTABLE for the Mortal Kombat movies and TV shows. He also produced True Lies.
   Anyway, back in 2001, Kasanoff had the bright idea to start his own animation studio. The intention being to make a Toy Story rip-off following the success of Toy Story 2. Yep. This movie, which didn't come out until THIS YEAR, was meant to ride the Toy Story 2 wave. I guess they assumed that Toy Story 3 would be coming out around the time Foodfight! was complete. I mean, it's not like it was going to take eleven years to make either of those movies, right?
   But wait, there's more! This is an actual quote from an interview with Kasanoff from 2002, a full ten years before there was even a trailer for the movie, in Animation Magazine: "In terms of coming to have an independent digital animation studio making a digitally animated movie right now, I think we're pretty much it. We've got the movie, we've got the property, the place, the equipment, the talent, we're there. Do we believe our next movie, Foodfight!, is going to be a huge hit? Of course we do!" Did you let out an audible sigh when you read that? I did. Oh, and guess what? Kasanoff also wrote and directed it! Sound familiar?
Hi, I'm Tommy Wiseau. And this is my Tommy Wi-show!

   Before I move on, let's talk about plot. And yes, it's time for another AUDIBLE SIGH. Foodfight! centers around a supermarket that becomes a sprawling magical city when it's closed, and all the products come to life. The hero of the story is an Indiana Jones-like dog voiced by Charlie Sheen. Hold your sighs! His girlfriend, Sunshine Goodness (Hilary Duff) gets kidnapped by the evil Brand X, played by Eva Longoria, and therefore he must save her. Alright, take a deep breath now, because it's sighing time. What is the name of this heroic dog? DEX DOGTECTIVE. Get it? 'Cause he's a dog? And a detective? And Dex is a first name? I trust that by this point you've said the word "Why" at least 13 times, so let's take a step back and get back to the history.
   The movie caught the eye of an advertising watchdog called Commercial Alert in 2001. The group was against the movie's blatant product placement throughout. CA had all the right to be upset, as the movie name-dropped famous brands like Cap'n Crunch, Energizer, Starkist Tuna, Mr. Clean, Coca-Cola, M&Ms, Skittles, and Spam. A member of the group named Gary Ruskin remarked, "It raises the commercial assault on children to a new level of brazenness. Some people would stoop to any level to make a buck and sadly, Foodfight! is an example." This quote is a good example of something being entirely true and total bullshit at the same time.
   Foodfight! featured references to 80 products or so, but Kasanoff still insisted that there was more to this movie than just a prolonged advertisement. What was the logic behind this argument? No logic at all. "In the digital world," he told Time Magazine in 2002, "you're hard-pressed to find the difference between Mr. Clean and Arnold Schwarzenegger." No logic at all.
   In spite of this controversy, and the fact that it's a terrible idea, Foodfight! moved forward with a budget of- get this- 65 million dollars. Threshold had big plans for the movie, sparing no expense on the voice actors and talking about video game tie-ins, toys, and even a webshow to accompany the movie's release. Remember, this was in 2002. Ten years before the completion of the movie. But wait, it's worse than that. It's MUCH worse than that. They actually RELEASED some of this stuff. Everything from DVDs to coloring books to awful, awful toys. This movie somehow had enough of a budget that they were able to release toys and coloring books as tie-ins. Just so we're clear, THIS is the movie I'm talking about.
This movie came out THIS YEAR.

   I'm sorry, I'm just trying to emphasize how FUCKING FRUSTRATED I am with the effort that went in to this piece of shit. And it's worse because Kasanoff was so sure it was going to be the greatest movie ever that it's really sad. For example, here's a quote of his from 2005. "This is the most complex digitally animated film ever undertaken, with thousands of different characters and hundreds of sets. We've searched the world for the best talent and have found extraordinary 3D animation talent in a number of different countries." My god, he even talks like Tommy Wiseau.
   You may wonder why this movie turned out so poorly even though so much time and money went into it. Well, I think that all started in 2002, when it dropped off the face of the Earth. You see, a few hard drives, containing all the footage of the movie, were stolen and leaked, thus creating mass hysteria at Threshold Entertainment. Before this event, Foodfight! was going to be released in theaters in 2005, distributed by Lionsgate. Why Kasanoff was so gung-ho about it even after they had to start from scratch, I have no idea.
   Well, actually I kind of do. You see, that quote where he says it's going to be the best thing ever, which I will confirm false in just a moment, is really the only thing anyone said about Foodfight! up until 2011. What happened in 2011, you may ask? Well, a small ad appeared in a Hollywood Reporter that said, "Notice of public sale." That's right, Foodfight! was up for auction. The starting price was $2,500,000. To stress just how ridiculous this price is, here's the trailer for the movie.
   By the power of Greyskull, this is the worst thing I've ever seen. I mean, it is bad by every definition. In fact, I'm going to prove it. I'm going to look up every definition of "bad" on Dictionary.com and see if they all fit this trailer. Alright, it looks like there are 36 non-slang definitions of the adjective form. Not good in any manner or degree? Check. Morally reprehensible? Check. Of poor or inferior quality? Check. Inadequate or below standard? Check check check. Inaccurate, incorrect, or faulty? Yep. Invalid, unsound, or false? Tough call, but I'm gonna say yes. Liable to cause sickness or ill health? Yes. Sick, ill, or injured? Wayne Brady must have been if he agreed to do this movie. Not in good physical condition; decayed? Yes. Spoiled to the point of being inedible? Kind of a technicality, but yes. Having a disastrous or detrimental effect? Yes. Causing or characterized by discomfort? Absolutely. Easily provoked to anger? Alright, that one's a no. 12 to 1. Cross, irritable, or surly? Yeah. More uncomfortable, persistent, painful, or dangerous than usual? FUCK YES. Causing disaster or severe damage/distruction? Yep. Regretful? Hopefully. Naughty or misbehaving? Yes. Dishonorable? OOOOOOOOH, YEAH. Displaying a lack of skill or talent? You tell me. Causing distress? Definitely. Not suitable? Yeah. Unpleasantly hot, cold, stormy, etc? I don't know what they mean by "etc," so I'm going to give it a yes. Offensive to the senses? Most definitely. Exhibiting a lack of artistic sensibility? That is the perfect description of this trailer. Not in keeping with a standard of behavior or conduct? Yes. Vulgar or obscene? Yeah. Not properly observing the rules of grammar or spelling? The title has an exclamation point. Unattractive? Yes. Marred by defects? Yes. Not profitable or worth the price paid? EXACTLY. Deemed uncollectible and treated as a loss? Pretty much, yeah. Ill-spent or wasted? Yup. Counterfeit, not genuine? Yes. Villainous? Believe it or not, I'm going to give that a yes. If you've seen the trailer, you probably agree. Not well aimed (Sports)? Basically. There you have it, folks. 36 unironic definitions of bad and only one of them doesn't fit this trailer or the movie/actors it revolves around. This is truly a great achievement in bad filmmaking.
   Foodfight!'s troubled past is quite obvious in every frame of this awful, awful trailer. It almost seems cruel to make fun of it, like making fun of a mentally challenged child with an abusive father. But the fact of the matter is that the stolen footage and rushed production don't explain how shittily this trailer turned out. Seriously, just look at it. The Sims has better animation than this! And that's the least of the problems. Alright, it's not the least. But it's not the most, either. I'd say the main problem with this movie is that it's HORRIBLY WRITTEN. Literally. This writing is able to make you tremble. Just look at some of these lines! "Frankly my dear, I don't give a Spam." And it's full of fart jokes and innuendo and stereotypes and EVERYTHING THAT COULD POSSIBLY BE WRONG WITH A CHILDREN'S MOVIE. Not to mention the Nazi allusions and sexualized female characters. All this and more make this trailer and the movie it represents simply one of the worst things ever.
   Getting back to the story, some poor sucker actually backed Foodfight!, and it got a small UK release this year. It grossed about £13,000 before going to DVD all over Europe. This movie took so long to make that it OUTLASTED ITS MOST PROMINENT ADVERTISER, HOSTESS. The fact that this movie was even released makes me sick to my stomach. It's an ugly, unimaginative, hateful piece of shit that doesn't have any substance in it whatsoever. However, the movie does have one thing going for it: it has a very unique backstory.
I will try to have a Planes review out this week. "Survival" review and Three Flavors retrospective imminent. Next week, I'll rank the Batman movies and review The World's End. Until then...
End transmission.