The premise of the ill-fated, surprisingly high budgeted (estimated at $65 million, a $65 million that cannot be found on screen) Foodfight! is enough to make most people cringe at the exploitation of audiences. During the after hours at a grocery store dubbed “Marketroplis,” the food products come to life (and the store itself morphs into a weird alternate food universe for some reason). Some of these food products are familiar to us: Mr. Clean, Mrs. Butterworth, Charlie Tuna. The concept of pushing product placement on such an overt level to children is discomforting enough. Then, of course, there is the plot of the film.
Foodfight! follows an ex-detective dog (Charlie Sheen) who quits the biz after his bride-to-be mysteriously vanishes from the store. He is pulled out of retirement when a new shipment of products under the moniker “Brand X” come to change the power dynamic in the peaceful supermarket city.
These Brand X grunts and their femme fatale head Lady X (Eva Longoria) are, unequivocally, Nazis. Lady X wants to take control of the town by scapegoating characters who are walking racial stereotypes, such as a dragon who runs a business called Kung Tofu. Brand X marches through the streets, engages in fear-mongering in order to gain power, and at one point throws two characters into an oven-like dryer; one who is revealed later to be Jewish. Not to mention that the innocent townfolk who are being systematically dehumanized by Brand X are colloquially referred to as “Ikes,” a name cringingly close to an anti-semitic slur. It’s horrifying, and it’s for children.
A push for hyper-consumerism in an animated film marketed toward children. Check. A narrative overtly depicting the beginnings of the Holocaust. Check. How about highly inappropriate sexual content that should never be in a PG-rated children’s movie? You betcha.
Dex Dogtective’s sidekick Daredevil Dan (Wayne Brady) is constantly making chocolate-related sexual innuendos and hitting on women who, for some reason, are humans in this food world. A stereotypical gay vampire character (Larry Miller) makes strong sexual advances on Daredevil Dan. The two major female characters in the film are constantly sexualized; one attempts to seduce Dex Dogtective and wears uncomfortably revealing clothing. Just in case you forgot, Dex Dogtective is a dog, and he is seduced by a human. It’s crazy inappropriate, and it’s for children.
So add an amount of sexuality that should never be in a children’s movie. That certainly must be the end to the madness that is Foodfight!, right?
Wrong. Watch this movie for five minutes and you know you are in for a migraine. The animation is objectively atrocious. Textures are far more antiquated than a 2012 animated film should be. Characters–the hairless rats, an overweight Brand X drone, and a weasel creature that I can only describe as a walking turd, to name a few–look deformed and disgusting. The climactic, eponymous food fight is a gross, lazily animated hodgepodge that is senseless and mind-numbing.
Everything went wrong with Foodfight!. Children will not find it appealing to look at or understand as a narrative, and its sexual themes are unsettling. The only thing more unsettling is the animation, which at times feels like it’s coming from a macabre avant-garde art film. I mean, look at this:
This is a character in the movie. Somehow, it made the cut. As did this:
And this character:
Watching Foodfight! feels like a fever dream. If anything is sure to traumatize children, it is this movie. IMDb cites as a “Frequently Asked Question” about this film the following: “Why did this movie exist?” While certainly a compelling question given the inexplicable nature of the film, the question’s grammatical shortcomings tragically reminds us that Foodfight! not only was allowed to exist but that it still continues to exist. It can be watched on Amazon Prime. I wouldn’t recommend it.
As always, thanks for reading.
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—Alex Brannan (@TheAlexBrannan)