Sausage Party, 2016.
Directed by Greg Tiernan and Conrad Vernon
Featuring the voice talents of Seth Rogen, Kristen Wiig, Edward Norton, Nick Kroll, David Krumholtz, Michael Cera, Jonah Hill, Anders Holm, Bill Hader, Craig Robinson, Danny McBride, Salma Hayek, Sugar Lyn Beard, James Franco, and Paul Rudd
A sausage strives to discover the truth about his existence.
Three words kept ringing over and over in my head after viewing Sausage Party: “What the fuck”. I mean that as a compliment of the highest order. There really are no words to describe this movie, so here goes nothing.
Sausage Party is a lot of things; it is extremely juvenile featuring loads of offensive material, it is revolting on nearly every level despite its innocent Pixar-reminiscent charm (the directors of the film are most known for Shrek 2 and a bevy of Thomas & Friends episodes, meaning that they clearly understand how to get the look down), it is shocking beyond describable words, it is brilliant with its thematic social commentary (regardless of how in-your-face and blunt it is), and it is one of the funniest movies of the year. Most importantly, it is an experience that much like South Park, transcends the entire genre of animation into another echelon of comedy and storytelling, reconfiguring our very perception of what animation can achieve and accomplish. It’s hard not to imagine even Trey Parker and Matt Stone applauding this madness.
That is really high praise for a movie that when broken down into its simplest form, is about a hot dog that wants to “get inside”a bun. Yes, it’s a movie where food wants to fuck. Urges, we all have them I guess. Basically what I’m saying is, the next time you eat something, disturbing images of what, who, and how it might have recently fucked before winding up on your fork and subsequently in your mouth might pop into the most lucid section of your imagination. There are literally sex scenes featuring grocery items in this movie. To quote the Twinkie that can later be seen getting fucked in the ass, once you see this shit it will fuck you up for life.
Moving on, there is much more than racial stereotyping (sauerkraut wants to exterminate juice, crackers have wronged Mr. Gritz, etc), as the core of the plot involves Frank (Seth Rogen) getting separated from the rest of the items he was purchased alongside with, including a package of buns containing the hopeful love of his life Brenda (Kristen Wiig). This all leads to a series of discoveries by Frank presenting damning evidence that humans (or as food views them, Gods) do not allow food to enter some eternal paradise after heading through those automatic opening exit doors to heaven, but instead murder and eat them. His faith continuously cracks little by little while Brenda clings to it because well, without faith, what do we have to look forward to in the afterlife?
Sausage Party is written by both Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, who have been responsible for a number of gut-bustingly hilarious projects over the years, but none that have quite reached the heights of 2012’s This is the End (their collaborative apocalypse movie featuring actors playing themselves in highly self-deprecating roles, boasting an infectious amount of enthusiasm and fun), and it needs to be said that for as popular as their movies are (along with Seth Rogen himself), in general, the duo are incredibly underrated as gifted comedic writers. Here’s the main reason Sausage Party works: despite all of the filth and raunch, the movie has something to say. It is starting a fairly interesting dialogue about the general concept of believing in a deity, without talking down to non-believers or pushing an agenda. At one point a cook book is introduced as a clear direct allegory to a Bible, with the scene playing out as a stroke of brilliance.
The characters themselves are also all bonkers, with the absolute best being a disabled piece of bubblegum rolling around in a wheelchair and sporting a Stephen Hawking voice, who also has the regenerative qualities of Terminator 2: Judgment Day‘s T-1000. James Franco even voices a druggie that gets completely fucked up on bath salts, somehow rendering him able to view the anthropomorphic qualities and hear the voices of the food. There’s also a bagel (Edward Norton) and a lavash (David Krumholtz) bickering nonstop throughout the journey reminiscent of Middle Eastern relationships, and honestly, you just have to see to believe how they solve their differences. Some of the characters are even heartwarming and charming, such as Barry (Michael Cera) as a defective hot dog often bullied by his peers; he goes through the tried-and-true story arc of finding courage while also realizing that his differences don’t make him any less of a person… err, piece of meat, and it’s a joy to watch.
As previously mentioned, the directors and animators all have the experience, credentials, and seemingly even the budget to make this thing look like a Disney/Pixar animated feature, also giving Sausage Party a spoof feeling. The narrative is essentially Toy Story with food (let’s be real, Woody clearly wants to fuck Little Bo Peep, so even the sexual parallels work). It is also a nice touch seeing the animation switching from bright vivid colors to washed out bland colors whenever perspective switches dimensions to the real world.
All that is holding Sausage Party back from serious consideration of being one of the greatest comedies of all time is that much of the insanity and truly memorable moments come in the final act (you will never ever forget the last 30 minutes of this movie for as long as you live, even if you get Alzheimer’s), while the first hour ever-so slightly pales in comparison. There are puns and bits of witty dialogue everywhere, and even a few “what the fuck” moments along the way (I haven’t even mentioned who or what the villain is, because honestly it is so ridiculous that you should just go find out for yourself), but is also clearly wrestling with greatness before finding its groove along with how to fully realize its presented themes. Some of the usual Seth Rogen stoner comedy is also getting a bit old, but seeing as I have never seen food do drugs (or fuck) before, I’ll allow it and give it a pass. The movie also goes on for one small scene too long, and honestly should have just cut to the credits after its infamous climax that is capable of bringing viewers to tears laughing while scarring them for life.
Still, minor setbacks aside, Sausage Party is one of the best movies of the year; it’s a shocking raunchy comedy that will stimulate your mind just as much as it will gross you out.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★