Sausage Party is Seth Rogan’s homage to the Disney and Pixar classics of the 1990s and 2000s. Like Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin, it features music by Alan Menken. Like Toy Story and Cars, it imagines what the world would be like if something we consider inanimate were alive. But unlike anything from those family friendly studios, Sausage Party was made to offend you until you laugh or leave the theatre.
All the food in a grocery store, including a hot dog named Frank and a bun named Brenda, believe that a better life is waiting for them outside the sliding exit doors. All they have to do is be chosen to go home with the humans they consider gods. When Frank discovers the terrible truth of what humans actually do to food, he has to convince everyone that the world — and afterlife — they know is all a lie.
The story is bare bones, and is mainly there just to drive the jokes. And in that regard you could say it was fairly successful. However, it seems the writers wanted a little more than that and tried to tack on a message at the end, and there they fell flat. In a movie where the whole thing revolves around humorously mocking anything and everything people hold dear — morality, nationality, sexuality, reality — to have the story then try to lecture on its version of truth feels like the height of hypocrisy. You spent 80 minutes ridiculing people’s beliefs but now you want them to take yours seriously? Don’t get me wrong, I’m not condemning their mockery at all. It’s all done in fun. And I’m not condemning their specific message either. But they should have followed through to the end with the mindset that no one is safe from ridicule. Making fun of everyone is funny. Making fun of everyone except yourself because you are right and everyone else is stupid is arrogance.
Luckily that is just a small piece of the film. Most of the movie is focused on skewering everything people care about! This movie is equal parts irreverent, pornographic, sacrilegious, and bigoted. Some jokes work better than others, but nothing is ever held back. Liberals will find no politically correct safe spaces here. Conservatives will discover nothing is sacred or off-limits. This is not a film to see if you are easily offended!
Does it go too far? For polite society, definitely! But on its own terms, not really. There is a scene near the end that goes on way too long (you’ll know it when you see it, and that phrase couldn’t be more apt in this case), but beyond that and the attempted message, it’s at least an equal opportunity offender.
The animation isn’t great quality and the character designs are terrible for the most part. While it’s true part of the design of the characters was the filmmakers trying to make it look like a stereotypical kids movie, the low budget was probably the driving factor.
Eight-time Academy Award winner Alan Menken wrote the film’s score, along with Christopher Lennertz. Menken also contributed the film’s opening song with lyricist Glenn Slater. Unfortunately, the score gets lost in the manic comedy of the film, but listening to it in isolation afterwards was a surprising treat. The song The Great Beyond was good but marred by the terrible voices singing it!
The voice acting was all over the place. Most of the cast were just playing the usual parts they always play in Seth Rogen films — hyperbolic versions of themselves. While not necessarily bad, they weren’t really stretching either. I love Kristen Wiig to death, but she was terrible in this role. Edward Norton was a bit of fun channeling Woody Allen. And James Franco and Paul Rudd were entertaining in small parts.
Sausage Party is not for the faint of heart. It’s not a great film, but no one was expecting it to be. It tries very hard to be funny and succeeds more often than not. The story is weak, but you’re not buying a ticket for plot. The best part of the film is seeing topics that usually get treated with kid gloves get their turn to be mocked. If that idea makes you sick to your stomach, please stay home and find something tamer on your entertainment menu! But if that kind of humor is something you’re hungry for, then dig in!
August 12, 2016
directed by Greg Tiernan & Conrad Vernon