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Two best friends set out to rescue their pal after he's accidentally dragged to hell.

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Hell & Back movie full length review - Went to Hell and Almost Didn't Come Back

Hell and Back is for all intense and purposes a cinematic inevitability. TV today is filled to the brim with adult cartoon shows catering to a certain male demographic trapped in a state of arrested development.

The best of these shows are every bit as artful, thoughtful and entertaining as any 30-minute sitcom. Yet for every Bob's Burgers (2011-present) and Archer (2009-present) there's a cringe-worthy time-waster like American Dad! (2005-present) that threatens to derail the entire adult toon genre with gleeful insult humor and lazy references.

Hell and Back is brought to you by the same stop-motion studios as Robot Chicken (2005-present) a fifteen minute sketch show involving action figures and claymation figures. The plot revolves around three underachieving friends who work at a rundown pier side carnival. Curt (Riggle) assistant manages while Remy (Swardson) works primarily on the Hell's Gate ride featuring a few cheap scares for the price of a few dollars and your dignity. Augie (Miller), the chubby third wheel of the group works as the mechanic, or at least I think he does; it doesn't really matter. What does matter is the trio come across a demonic book, Curt swears a blood oath on it, immediately renigs and is dragged to hell. Remy and Augie follow him and face demons, assorted tortures and the Devil (Odenkirk) himself to save their friend from eternal damnation.

As with Robot Chicken, the animation style in this film evokes the memory of Will Vinton's Claymation Christmas (1987) only with a displeasing slurry of dirty jokes and adult situations. The same sophomoric, sporadic and anarchic humor we've seen on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim lineup debuts on the big screen only without pathos, perspective, immediacy, topicality or energy. All of the humor is crude for the sake of being crude as if two twelve-year-old boys wrote the script and had a quota for the amounts of f***s, s***s and q****s they were required to squeeze in.

Don't get me wrong, I'm no shrinking violet when it comes to crude, rude and politically incorrect jokes. I don't raise my nose at George Carlin's seven words you can't say on TV or the occasionally funny Family Guy (1999-present) gag. But crudeness for crudeness sake does not a good movie make. The film features bluntly stated dialogue discussing lewd sex acts, the shame of virginity in your 20's and one unbearably drawn-out discussion of tree rape that is brought up several times. Ironically the jokes that made me chuckle the hardest were the subtle ones such as a soul being tortured by a demon by trying to order a pepperoni pizza from a Taco Bell/Pizza Hut Express.

Those of you who are a fan of ShadowMachine Films and their genre expanding TV shows will be mightily disappointed by this stop-motion slacker comedy. Despite some funny one-off jokes, Hell and Back has precious few redeeming qualities outside it's talented voice cast. The movie's dialogue is crass and confusing while it's sight-gags are obvious and undeveloped. The story is awful featuring three obnoxious leads who learn nothing from their experience; other than maybe devil's brew is delicious. The side characters are worse still including an ineffective devil, a boring tag-along in Mila Kunis's half-human, half-demon Deema, and an especially braggadocios Orpheus (McBride). Do yourself a favor, miss this trip to hell and watch a few episodes of BoJack Horseman (2014-present), a show that better represents a descent into hell. It's also so much funnier.