Seth Rogen’s Sausage Party has been in the works for years, with studios worried about the mixture of crude stoner comedy and animated Pixar-style parody. Having now hit the big screen, it proves to be that and more – it is as visually spectacular as a Pixar movie and as smutty as a Rogen offering, but also boasting an insightful look at the nature of religion (I kid you not).
Life is good for all of the food items that occupy the shelves at the local supermarket. Frank the sausage (Seth Rogen), Brenda the hot dog bun (Kristen Wiig), Teresa Taco (Salma Hayek) and Sammy Bagel Jr. (Edward Norton) can’t wait to be picked up by one of the giant humans, and taken out of the supermarket to the fabled great beyond. Their world soon comes crashing down as Frank learns the horrifying truth about what happens to foods when they enter the great beyond – they are killed and eaten. After warning his pals about their shared fate, the panicked foodstuffs devise a plan to escape from their human enemies and figure out the meaning of their existence.
Sausage Party is a very interesting beast – it starts out seemingly as a Disney-Pixar parody, from the quirky animation to the premise of inanimate objects coming to life when we aren’t looking, and to a very catchy opening number from Disney musical supremo Alan Menken. It adopts a far more crude tone (of course – this is a Seth Rogen film, after all), but there is far more to it than that – as well as being very funny, it also functions as a fairly serious religious allegory. In imitating Pixar, it seems that the film has also channelled some of the studio’s trademark brain.
All of Rogen’s typical supporting cast turn out in force, as this is an ensemble movie by half. Rogen leads as Frank, pulling the same routine he normally does, but it somehow becomes funnier with him playing a sentient sausage. Some of the cast fade into the background – James Franco and Paul Rudd play a druggie and a supermarket employee respectively, and you’d not know it was them unless you stayed for the credits – but some really shine. Contrary to his character’s name, Edward Norton does his best Woody Allen impression as a neurotic bagel, and Michael Cera gets to play endearing cute as a deformed sausage.
The cast are helped by the fact that the material is very funny. It is a lot more adult than your typical animated film (the swearing immediately proves that – it is perhaps too frequent, and therefore dilutes the value of it, but that’s a minor pick), and it delights in its sheer offensiveness – it is hard not to find fun in it. It is far more than just smut and cursing, however, and it treats you to a level of visual inventiveness that is on-par with the best animated films. Couple that with the ethnic gags (some people have complained about the portrayal of tacos as Mexico, etc. – I say go with it and find a sense of humour) and clever jokes on subjects like the Israel-Palestine situation and Hitler, and the film maintains a strong gag ratio throughout.
There are some aspects that don’t work – the villain is a douche, played by Nick Kroll, who doesn’t really add anything to the movie, as does the mandatory Rogen weed smoking scene, and I found the ending a little too out-of-sync with the rest of the film. These minor trappings do not take away from all that is good in Sausage Party, and there is a lot of good. This is not a movie for everyone, but it is a real treat for those who do watch it – clever, funny, and as good as the animated movies it sets out to spoof.
Director: Greg Tiernan, Conrad Vernon
Cast: Seth Rogen (Frank), James Franco (Druggie), Jonah Hill (Carl), Kristen Wiig (Brenda), Salma Hayek (Teresa Taco), Michael Cera (Barry)
Running Time: 89 Mins
Image credit: https://i.ytimg.com/vi/9VoNgLnjzVg/maxresdefault.jpg