A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Foodfight! is a bizarre 2012 animated comedy. A cartoon frog passes gas unashamedly, and that pretty much sets the tone for a movie that seems to want to serve two incompatible audiences -- young kids but also sexual innuendo-aware adults with nostalgia for the golden era of classic film. Expect lots of bloodless cartoon violence, suggestive dialogue couched in G-rated language ("I'd like to butter your muffin") and paraphrases from Casablanca. Language includes "butt-ugly," "you cold-farted itch," "pompous pip-squeak," and "whack job." The Brand X army is portrayed as a large group of goose-stepping Nazis. Brand-name food and home products normally seen in supermarkets are featured here as characters, including Mr. Clean, Chef Boyardee, Sunshine raisins, Mrs. Butterworth's syrup, Keebler elves, and Starkist's Charlie the Tuna.
- Parents say
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What's the story?
As in the 1942 romantic drama Casablanca, the protagonist of FOODFIGHT! has a monosyllabic first name, Dex (Humphrey Bogart played Rick) and a lost love who has driven him to give up on life and open a nightclub. The difference is that Dex (voiced by Charlie Sheen) lives in a supermarket. He's the advertising icon representing one of the products in its aisles. Similar to other icons, including Mr. Clean and Starkist's Charlie the Tuna, he has the run of the place after hours, having served as house "dogtective" until his girlfriend was devastatingly "recalled." Just as he's about to succumb to cynicism and self-pity, he and his pals realize that Lady Brand X (and her minions, portrayed as goose-stepping Nazis) is behind the disappearance of many icons. Dex joins his comrades in fighting the good fight to take back their store and save their friends.
Is it any good?
The filmmakers clearly love classic movies, and whether this movie falls under the category of well-executed homage or ham-handed theft is a topic for debate. Casablanca gets ripped off -- er, honored -- the most, providing the Dex persona and the intertwined plot of his difficult love life and his decision to risk all in order to save the supermarket. Gone with the Wind is also evoked. But the term "classic" is stretched to include the California raisins singing "Grapevine," as they did in the iconic 1986 commercial. Old advertising campaigns are also cited. "Got milk?" a guy drawls to a bartender. There are other choice bits of dialogue, including, "You bet your box top," and "Get a shelf life," and for most of the movie it doesn't get much better than that.
It's hard to go wrong with such veteran performers as Jerry Stiller, Larry Miller, Ed Asner, Cloris Leachman, Harvey Fierstein, Christine Baranski, and Wayne Brady, but the script lets them down. This movie can't decide it it's a romp through a cartoon supermarket for kids or a sleazy nostalgia-fest tossing off lame paraphrases from the classic film repertoire.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about whether this movie has a serious message about food companies and branding. Does calling something Brand X mean that it's bad?
The evil Brand X army is made to resemble Nazis of World War II. Which other books, movies, or TV shows have used such figures for comedy?
It's fun to watch animals play characters that seem like humans. Which other recent movies portray talking animals?
Who is the movie's intended audience?
For kids who love to laugh
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