Foodfight! is a 2012 computer-animated adventure/comedy film directed by Lawrence Kasanoff, who also produced the first two Mortal Kombat films.
The movie was supposed to come out in time for the Christmas 2003 Season, but it was claimed that in December 2002, hard drives containing most of the movie's assets were stolen (in what was quoted as an act of "industrial espionage") and that no backups were available, forcing the project to start over with only what little remained. The movie was released 10 years later after being auctioned off and "finished" as quickly and cheaply as possible. The film's state would lead it to become known as one of the worst animated movie of all time, and a serious contender for the title of outright worst.
Foodfight! takes place in the "Marketropolis" supermarket after closing time. The supermarket transforms into a city, in which all the citizens are personified well-known marketing icons, also known as "Ikes". The story opens with the protagonist Dex Dogtective saving kittens before he tells his friend, Daredevil Dan, that he is about to ask his girlfriend Sunshine Goodness to marry him. However, Dan attempts to draw a picture of Dex proposing using the smoke exhaust from his plane but crashes and Sunshine goes to assist Dan before Dex can propose. Dan returns but has no idea of what happened to Sunshine.
Six months later, a strange, flailing man called Mr. Clipboard, a representative for a mysterious company known as Brand X, arrives at Marketropolis to persuade the owner to stock products made by Brand X. While there, he crushes some potato chips, which becomes a large topic of discussion with the Ikes. At the Copabanana, Dex's club, Dex talks to the Ike whose chips were stomped, before meeting the Brand X detergent Ike, Lady X. A fight breaks out, forcing Dex to order everybody out of his club. Lady X leaves with Daredevil Dan.
Later, back in Dex's home, Lady X drops in on Dex where she attempts to seduce him while using him as an alibi for when they find a group of Ikes dead in the street, which causes their respective products to expire. Dex is asked to investigate but doesn't want to get involved until he finds out Dan is missing. New Brand X products and Ikes quickly replace the destroyed products, which causes Dex to suspect Lady X, who tries to bring him over to her side. He refuses and gets locked into a dryer with Dan to be melted, but they escape. Dan and Dex find out that the secret ingredient in Brand X is addictive and toxic and decide to send for a recall with the owner's computer.
They get to the computer find out that Sunshine and the Ugly Prune brand were recalled and the computer gets shut off by a Brand X Ike before they can be sure their recall went through. They decide to fight, and Dex has a plan where everyone puts lightning rods on their buildings while one Ike goes to cut the power while the Brand X Ikes are distracted in a massive food fight. The cut power somehow causes a lighting storm that destroys the Brand X buildings because they don't have lightning rods.
Dex goes inside a Brand X tower to find that they have Sunshine and are holding her hostage. They escape the building with the help of Dan to see that Mr. Clipboard has entered their world, but it's soon revealed that he was just a robot with Lady X inside (as it was hinted by his stiff and bizarre movements). Lady X reveals that she is actually Priscilla Prusly, the Ugly Prune Ike. She had grown jealous of Sunshine and had them both recalled. She got a makeover and was able to create Brand X using Sunshine's essence. Priscilla then tries to kill Dex, but Sunshine fights her and reverts her back to her true form - a hideous hunchbacked woman, much to everyone's shock and disgust. Priscilla is then taken to the expiration station to be disposed of. The citizens of Marketropolis find a cure for the poison, and Dex and Sunshine get married.
Lawrence Kasanoff and Joshua Wexler, an employee of Threshold Entertainment, Kasanoff's production company, created the concept in 1999. A $25 million joint investment into the project was made by Threshold and the Korean investment company Natural Image. The producers of the film expected that foreign pre-sales and loans against the sales would provide the remaining portion of the budget. The estimated remainder was $50 million.
The film was created and produced by the digital effects shop at Threshold, located in Santa Monica, California in the Los Angeles metropolitan area. In late 2002/early 2003, Kasanoff claimed that hard drives containing unfinished assets from the film had been stolen in what he called an act of "industrial espionage". None of this footage or data has ever been found, with the only evidence of the original film even existing being an early trailer (though since this trailer contains shots from the finished film, this could just be all the footage that was not stolen) and some snippets of the same trailer in other videos such as a promotional video for Threshold.
The film was supposed to be animated with an exaggerated use of "squash and stretch" to resemble the Looney Tunes shorts, but after production resumed in 2004, Kasanoff changed it to a style more centered in motion capture, with the result being that "he and animators were speaking two different languages".
Lionsgate established a distribution deal and the financing company StoryArk represented investors who gave $20 million in funding to Threshold in 2005 due to the Lionsgate deal, the celebrity voice actors (none of whom could get out of their contracts), and the product tie-ins (many of which, as it turned out, could). A release date in 2005 was later announced but missed. Another distribution deal was struck in 2007, but again, nothing came of it. Lionsgate had a negative reaction to the delays. The investors had grown impatient due to the film production company defaulting on its secured promissory note and the release dates that were not met. Finally, in 2011, the film was auctioned for $2.5 million. StoryArk investors had ultimately invoked a clause in their contract that allowed the Fireman's Fund Insurance Company, which had insured Foodfight!, to complete and release the film as inexpensively and quickly as possible. It was very quietly shoved onto DVD and finally released in 2012, though it apparently somehow managed a limited cinema release in the UK. Overall, the movie had a budget of $65 million ($5 million more than the first Shrek movie).
Why It Sucks
- It is a $65 million film that looks worse than CG animation from the 80s, with scarily ugly visuals, creepy character designs, and abominable animation that looks like it was animated with ear wax and toe skin. It looks like the character designs were made from the writers' worst nightmares.
- The animation's lip-syncing is completely off-track.
- Lady X is way too sexual and inappropriate for a film meant for kids.
- Revolting character models (like the shopper lady). The old versions of said models are much better.
- Sunshine Goodness is supposed to be the Sun-Maid Girl, but they made her look like a cat-person. She also has such bad eye contact with other characters that it may take some time for a viewer to realize she isn't supposed to be blind.
- Most of the intended brand advertisers pulled out when it became clear the movie would be a disaster and are replaced with ersatz versions of brand icons, usually the vilest character designs the creators could come up with. This appears to be a rather strange attempt at revenge.
- Most of the intended brand characters are not used or widely known outside the United States, which would have limited the film's international appeal in a scenario where it wasn't awful.
- The characters are either annoying, cringe-inducing, or both.
- Poor attempts at humor: Dex's constant food puns are an example. The line he says that's most infamous for not making any sense is "Let's strawberry jam out of here!"
- Some jokes are so poorly formulated as it takes serious thought to even understand that they are jokes. For example, at the beginning of the film Dex is dealing with a rat who is constantly called "Fat Cat" except for one instance where he is called "Fat Cat Burglar" and this only makes sense if the viewer connects it to the fact that he has stolen a basket of kittens.
- Extremely poor sound mixing.
- The motion-capture arm acting and facial expressions were absolutely terrible, with rumors that it was made using Xbox Kinect (the truth was not much better, as the technology used required the actor to stare directly at the capture equipment and not move their head). Two notable examples would be when Doctor Si Nustrix is talking to Dex, you can see in the background that Dan's looking like he's spazzing out. Another one would be when the Brand X army are marching, they constantly throw their hands around.
- The poster is a lie for no reason, since it pushes the main characters to the lower-left corner and showcases the side characters. The poster also rips off the box art of Over the Hedge.
- There is absolutely no way children would understand a reference to the movie Casablanca and the scene plays out more like the creators simply couldn't be bothered to come up with a scene of their own.
- A film that was supposed to be about product placement becomes more than a little pointless when half of the products aren't even real.
- Awful splatter special effects.
- Several characters are racial stereotypes, such as the doctor, who has stereotypical Jewish mannerisms and a gigantic nose.
- The film's climactic battle scene goes on for 30 minutes, consisting mostly of the mascots throwing food at the Brand X army, complete with recycling shots repeatedly.
- Inconsistent and nonsensical writing.
- The basic premise isn't anything a child will have actually imagined: a premise like "where does the monster in my closet live?" "what do my toys do when I'm away?" or "what does Santa do when it isn't Christmas?" is a solid question, but a setup that's effectively "what does Ronald McDonald do when McDonald's shuts?" is not, because kids know he was never there in the first place.
- In keeping with the above, the rules of the universe are extremely unclear, particularly with regards to what Ikes actually are, where they come from, what the relationship between Ike and product is, and what they're all doing in this one specific supermarket. Obvious questions like what goes on in other supermarkets are never answered. Neither is it established how Lady X could have constructed a semi-functional robot man and created an entire range of Brand X products presumably manufactured by humans, aside from some vague mumbling about Sunshine Goodness' "essence."
- "Brand X" usually refers to a store brand product. Selling someone else's label kind of isn't the same thing. The interaction between Mr. Clipboard and the store owner is actually like how sellers of big-name branded products treat store brands (demanding certain numbers of facings of their products, even if it removes sections of the store's range entirely), not the other way around.
- There are some other bizarre uses of store-related terminology: for example, an Ike dying is said to cause their product to "expire," but that would only work if the death of the Ike causes time to advance to the point of the expiry date, and all products of an entire brand will not have the same expiry date. "Recalling" a product is also used as a way to remove an Ike from the store but recalls usually affect defective or contaminated batches of a product, not the brand associated with it.
- The creators of the movie clearly knew nothing about animals. For example, throughout the movie, Dex eats raisins despite them being poisonous to dogs. In another scene, Dex offers cheese to some hamsters even though it is dangerous for hamsters to eat cheese.
- Some scenes have sexual acts and innuendo that are inappropriate for children: these were apparently outtakes created as jokes by bored animations, but the completion of the film used all of the available assets and so all of them ended up in it.
- During a scene where Daredevil Dan is flying his plane, he spots his "girlfriend" Sweet Cakes, and calls out to her from the air saying, "Nice Package, How about some chocolate frosting." Later on in the film, he mentions how he'll miss playing "Lick the Frosting" with Sweet Cakes.
- In the scene where Dex and Lady X are dancing, Lady X says "I wanna scrub your bubbles, Dex!"
- During the battle scene, there is a point where it looks as if a bunch of airplanes launched right out of Lady X's crotch.
- There's a scene in the middle of the fight where Daredevil Dan says "Are those melons real?"
- Before Lieutenant X dies, his last words are "I think I just wet myself. It feels rather nice..."
- There are also a series of very off-color racist jokes related to Daredevil Dan being a chocolate mascot voiced by a black man.
- Larry Kasanoff had no experience as a director (though he was an experienced producer with True Lies the strongest string to his bow) and knew very little about computer animation, leading to scenes being redone repeatedly.
- Many scenes serve no purpose other than padding.
- It wasted the talents of Charlie Sheen, Wayne Brady, Hilary, and Haylie Duff, Eva Longoria, Cloris Leachman, Robert Costanzo, James Arnold Taylor, Jeff Bennett, Christopher Lloyd, Ed Asner, etc. All of the voice cast either phone in their performances, overact ridiculously, or both, clearly knowing that nobody was going to stop them.
The Only Redeeming Quality
- The music and songs are actually quite nice to listen to.