The Third of the Trio is Meatwad, a Shape-Shifting Meatball Who May be a Congenital Idiot.

Foooooood fight!!!!!!

Sunday, April 8, 2007

PDT Los Angeles
One is a goateed, flying bag of french fries named Frylock who shoots
bolts of energy out of his eyes. Another, Master Shake, is a selfish, lying
giant milk shake. And the third of the trio is Meatwad, a shape-shifting
meatball who may be a congenital idiot.

Connoisseurs of high-end animation and Lite Brite-fearing bomb squads,
beware: “Aqua Teen Hunger Force” cometh, in a spectacular cinematic vehicle
titled “Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theaters.” Co-creator Matt
Maiellaro (pronounced “ma-LEHR-oh”) promises that the animation is so good,
“you see every hair on Frylock’s head. We just had to make his hair thicker and
yellow.”

For the uninitiated, the characters have no particular connection to
water, are not obviously adolescent and do not battle hunger despite being
anthropomorphized fast-food products. When they debuted, they dabbled in crime
solving, but most of the 11-minute episodes these days find them just hanging
out, Master Shake torturing Meatwad somehow and Frylock raising a disapproving
eyebrow. Characters often die, only to be resurrected without comment in the
next installment. One particularly nonsensical episode involved the dangerous
hallucinations Shake experienced after contracting “hypno-germs” from a toilet
seat. In another show, Meatwad put on the ancient Egyptian “T-Shirt of the
Dead,” which of course led to a giant part-Godzilla, part-Easter egg monster
torching Santa Claus.

And this is the most popular original program on Cartoon Network’s Adult
Swim lineup.

“If we knew why, we’d be coming up with 20 other ones,” Maiellaro says,
imagining the next big thing: ” ‘They’re lawn furniture that also do … lawn
manicuring!’ ”

Although Maiellaro says the movie is already a success because it’s being
released in 800 theaters rather than his expected distribution plan (“We were
going to make three copies and bus it around America”), the team’s other
co-creator has a loftier goal, defining “mission accomplished” as: “If we
receive the Academy Award for best picture,” Dave Willis says. “We don’t have
any dancing penguins or anything, but we’re putting out something that was
produced on three computers as opposed to 3,000.” He grandly boasts that the
movie cost “tens of thousands of dollars.”

Willis and Maiellaro look as regular as guys can, with their layers of
shirts and burgeoning 3 p.m. shadows at the end of a junket at the Four
Seasons Hotel. Maiellaro, born in 1966, is the more engaging, slightly ruddy
faced, bespectacled, with sprinkles of white through his dark hair, a hint of
Wichita Falls, Texas, lilting in his voice. Willis, born in 1970, is more
deadpan, taller, with mussed, dirty-blond hair. The two have known each other
for 10 years and give off a laid-back, slacker vibe. They nonchalantly threaten
to make up responses for any questions to which they don’t know the answers.
And when given the chance, they claim the film, which concerns a rogue exercise
machine that may alter the balance of power in the universe, is based on a true
story.

“Yeah, it happened to Matt when he was 8,” Willis says.

“Yeah, it was all about exercise equipment and church. … I kept it to
myself for many, many, many years. And then, through therapy, I finally told
Dave about it. I felt better.”

“And I said, ‘Let’s exploit it,’ ” They laugh, then Willis adds soberly,
“So there was a rift over that for a while. It still terrifies him in the
night.”

“But I’m OK with it now …”

“That his horrible secret is now a major motion picture.”

If the odd collection of words that forms the TV show’s title rings a
cracked and distant bell, “Aqua Teen Hunger Force’s” network drew the ire of
Boston police for a guerrilla marketing campaign that included posting wordless
electric signs with character images made of tiny colored lights. The signs
sparked fears of Lite Brites of Mass Destruction, leading to a reported $2
million settlement and at least one resignation at the network. And ratings
records.

“They want us to be ‘no comment’ on it,” Willis says, adding, “We wrote an
episode about it.”

“It may never air,” Maiellaro says. “Maybe in a couple of years.”

Frylock, Shake and Meatwad began as supporting characters for an
unproduced episode of Adult Swim’s faux talk show, “Space Ghost
Coast-to-Coast,” hosted by an epically idiotic superhero.

“Space Ghost had bought hundreds of dollars worth of hamburgers and had no
real concept of money, how he would pay for them,” Willis says. “He was
building a fort out of them. So when he was informed he had to pay, he brokered
a deal with the restaurant so the corporate mascots could be on the show all
the time and just get plenty of face time while he interviewed, say, Willie
Nelson. So that’s where the idea came from.”

That episode was never made, but Maiellaro and Willis somehow got Cartoon
Network to green-light an entire series starring the fast-food products.
Maiellaro voices mostly supporting characters, including the insane robot, the
Cybernetic Ghost of Christmas Past. Willis plays, among others, the
simpleminded Meatwad and the group’s Jersey-stereotype neighbor, bling- and
wifebeater-sporting Carl. The most compelling mystery is what made the show’s
creators think these 11-minute doses of concentrated absurdity could smoothly
expand into a 79-minute movie.

“Our boastfulness,” Maiellaro says. “Our big mouths that won’t shut up
about how great we are.”

The movie does provide the origin of the characters — or rather,
several origins, none of them particularly plausible.

“We did a massive rewrite in the middle,” Willis says. “There’s 30 minutes
of deleted scenes. But that’s sort of how we do it.”

But Maiellaro insists that all audiences need to know before going to the
movie is “that it’s rated R, and they should be prepared to spend $8.”

“Bring the kids,” Willis says. “And your wallet. And we have a picnic
seating area in every theater. Bring a bucket of chicken, sandwiches, a
Frisbee.”

As a bonus, Willis says, the film does have a moral message: “Go to
church.”

Adds Maiellaro: “To get girls!”
Foooooood fight!!!!!!

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