Review: Sausage Party (2016)

Sausage Party

Rating

Director

Greg Tiernan, Conrad Vernon

Screenplay

Kyle Hunter, Ariel Shaffir, Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg, Jonah Hill

Length

89 min.

Starring

Michael Cera, Kristen Wiig, David Krumholtz, Edward Norton, Nick Kroll, James Franco, Bill Hader, Salma Hayek, Jonah Hill, Danny McBride, Craig Robinson, Seth Rogen, Paul Rudd, Anders Holm

MPAA Rating

R for strong crude sexual content, pervasive language, and drug use

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Review

They say you should never witness how your food is made. Once you know, you cannot stop thinking about it. Sausage Party shows us not how the sausage is made, but it shows the sausage how it will be consumed, and the prospects are horrifying.

On the shelves of the suburban supermarket Shopwells, a package of hot dogs and a package of buns wait anxiously for the store to open so they can be whisked away to the Great Beyond. There, one hot dog (Seth Rogen) hopes to finally get out of his protective package and get it on with a bun who wants to get out of hers (Kristen Wiig).

That’s the setup for the narrative-spanning romance that largely takes a back seat to the discovery that the Great Beyond is a lie, made up by non-perishables that carry on the legacy to ensure that the various products don’t find out the truth and don’t despair as a result. They will all die horribly and painfully.

While much of the film is built around creating a mythos surrounding these foods and their ultimate destinies, the epic quest on which the film takes the audience is constructed out of seemingly endless puns, bountiful amounts of crude humor, and a need to parallel society’s sociopolitical structures in a meaningful, but heavy-handed way.

Make no mistake, this is not a film for youngsters. These sausages, buns, liquor bottles, and more are rude, crude, and totally adult-oriented. That doesn’t make them palatable to the adult community either. What makes the film work is its commentary on civilization. It discusses religion in blunt and forward language, while displaying a significant amount of common sense.

There have been a handful of successful R-rated animated films. The key is not just to do and say crass things, but also to speak about the larger ills of society, things that aren’t easily touched on by the likes of Disney. Sausage Party recognizes this and does its best to speak more bluntly about the issues facing the world today. While it doesn’t even come close to equaling the marvelous South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut, it does compare favorably to Team America: World Police.

The voice cast doesn’t do a lot in this film, meagerly creating characterizations that differ minimally from their other movie roles. This is a film featuring actors who have spent far too much time doing the same old style of comedy they always have unable to vary themselves sufficiently. That lack of inventiveness is clearly on display. The only two performers who come close to creating unique personas are Edward Norton as a bagel and David Krumholtz as a lavash, a middle-eastern pastry. The interplay between them props the film up in several places. Its anti-prejudice element is the film’s strongest commentary.

A straight-shooting film can be off-putting and Sausage Party doesn’t quite avoid those concerns. The film relies heavily on philosophical questions without use of subtlety. It adds in an excessive amount of drug references, endless and blatant sexual innuendo, and actual lewd activities. Each scene makes sense within the framework of the narrative, but it is so excessive at times that it forces the audience to lose focus on the important issues that had been brought up however bluntly.

Sausage Party should be seen only by those who appreciate crass humor and aren’t turned off by sex acts perpetrated by the various food groups. This is an irreverent, intense, insatiable film that will certainly not appeal to everyone and that’s probably for the best.

Oscar Prospects

Potentials: Original Song
Unlikelies: Animated Feature

Review Written

December 15, 2016

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