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Tasty laughs These are some raucous and hilarious edible characters

Amazing, but true! The funniest movie in weeks stars a talking milkshake, a carton of fries and a meatball! Exclamation point!

"Aqua Teen Hunger Force," leaping from late nights on the Cartoon Network to theaters, is more than a successful TV-to-film transplant. It's a minor masterpiece. Funny, tasteless, infantile, inspired, chaotic, awesomely violent and inexplicably strange barely begins to describe it.

Master Shake (a snide smoothie voiced by Dana Snyder), Frylock (an exasperated box of shoestring potatoes played by Carey Means) and Meatwad (Dave Willis as a trusting orb of animal protein) live together in a squalid New Jersey tract house. Actually, the roomies exist in a postmodern McFlurry of familiar story structures and pop-culture references. The trio fit the traditional sitcom pattern, with Shake as the buffoon Dad, Frylock in the long-suffering mother role and Meatwad as the kid. But the roles, and the jokes, are torqued way off kilter.

The dialogue abandons the 4/4 metronome beat of traditional sitcom speech in favor of sarcastic free-form verbal jazz. Every turn of the so-called plot is a standard comedy premise or action-movie vignette twisted past the point of absurdity.

The trio's typical day begins with annoying their grouchy slob neighbor, Carl, and ends with an epic battle against a chortling mad scientist, snarky pixel-men, an evil alien watermelon and an army of homicidal (but adorable) dancing robots. The drummer from Rush shows up for a couple of extended solos because -- well -- why not? The film explodes a long string of movie cliches, leaving a shambles of the screen with little rags and bits of old sci-fi flicks smoking among the wreckage.

The film was scripted and produced by series creators Willis and Matt Maiellaro, who apparently wrote scenes without consulting each other. The story's helter-skelter lack of discipline, with abrupt cutaways to irrelevant characters, random tangents, time warps and non sequitur plot-turns, adds greatly to its appeal.

The film cheerfully dispenses with sanity, logic and coherence, but it's put across with irresistible energy. Once you're aboard this water slide of lunacy, all you can do is surrender to its complete, engulfing weirdness and enjoy yourself.



3 1/2 stars (out of 4)

STARRING: The voices of Matt Maiellaro, Dave Willis, Dana Snyder, Carey Means, Andy Merrill and Mike Schatz

DIRECTOR: Matt Maiellaro and Dave Willis

RUNNING TIME: 79 minutes

RATING: R for crude and sexual humor, violent images and language.

THE LOWDOWN: Big-screen offering from Cartoon Network fixture centers on fight for piece of exercise equipment that can control the galaxy.

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