Poop. Crap. Shite. Ca Ca. Whatever you call it, everyone does it. The Korean animated film Aachi & Ssipak doesn’t just understand this, it revels in it.
It is the future, and feces are the sole source of power for the planet. In order to reward production of this precious resource, for every bowel movement a citizen makes, the government grants a Juicybar, an addictive and hallucinogenic Popsicle, which in turn encourages more production. Meters are inserted into everyone’s anus at birth, which is how their movements are measured and also how the government can track anyone trying to work around the system.
Aachi & Ssipak are two losers who live in Shit City, and they don’t want to have to “work” so hard for their Juicybars. They always have a plan to get more, but it always seems to end in failure (and usually a beating). But when the Diaper Gang (a group of unable-to-poop mutants) shows up looking to steal Juicybars from the government, Aachi & Ssipak get caught up in much more than they had ever bargained for. Throw in an indestructible cyborg cop (built from fresh corpses by a mad scientist complete with “off with his head” cranial stitches) and a porn star with an amazing talent for defecating, along with beautiful 2D meets 3D CGI animation and riffs on a whole bunch of Western movies, and you would expect there to be something special.
Unfortunately Aachi & Ssipak gets too caught up in the gross-out factor, and forgets that good movies have a story as well as great filmmaking techniques. make no mistake, the film is gorgeous to look at. But once you get past the whole knee-jerk, 10 year-old-male “Haha, they’re talking about doodie” response, there really isn’t much of an actual movie. The film does do a great job of paying homage (ripping off?) a ton of Western movies, including Basic Instinct, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Misery, and a hotel shootout scene that looks like it was taken directly from the ending of True Romance. But while its fun to see those homages and point them out, they just highlight the fact that the rest of the movie is pretty hollow.
Visually, Aachi & Ssipak is stunning, and there are plenty of “Ooh, pretty…” moments. The movie took over eight years to complete, and it really shows in the ol’ eyeball test department. The audio is great stuff as well, with an excellent original soundtrack. It’s too bad some of those eight years weren’t used to polish the script, because while toilet humor can make us laugh, it takes more than that to make a great movie. I give Aachi & Ssipak 2.5 Juicybars out of 5.