There’s no real preparing yourself for Sausage Party. You can watch the trailers, you can read reviews, but you’re not going to be ready. The closest comparison is the early days of South Park, when you just couldn’t believe these things were being said on TV, let alone by cartoon children waiting for a school bus. In an era where we’ve become completely desensitized to every-f*cking-thing, it’s amazing that a movie finds new ways to shock and delight, but Sausage Party does.
Although Sausage Party won’t be for everyone. It’s incredibly raunchy, highly profane, and most of the humor is so lowbrow it’s buried in the basement. Forget the demon in This Is The End, Sausage Party is the most gleefully juvenile Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg and their crew of collaborators—they co-wrote the script with Kyle Hunter & Ariel Shaffir (50/50, This Is The End, The Night Before)—have ever been. Any parent who mistakes the cheerful-looking talking food creatures of Sausage Party as kid-appropriate material is going to be thoroughly punished for not taking two minutes out of their day to watch the trailer.
The animation is plastic and looks more than a little like those Veggie Tales videos that impart Sunday school lessons with the help of talking veg, which is no doubt intentional. (Sausage Party is directed by Greg Tiernan of Thomas the Tank fame, and Conrad Vernon, Shrek 2, which gives the kiddie aesthetic real authenticity.) The underlying subtext of most of Rogen & Goldberg’s work is atheistic, bordering on Satanic—to date Preacher has been the most hands-on they’ve gotten with their “Do what thou wilt” worldview—but in Sausage Party that subtext is straight up context, and the allegory is so thinly veiled is almost non-existent.
Rogen voices Frank, a hot dog on the shelf at a grocery store. He’s in love with his bun-neighbor Brenda (Kristen Wiig), and every day at the grocery store begins with a cheery song about how “the gods” will choose them and take them into the “Great Beyond”, where “there’s no way anything bad happens to us”. The song also includes a verse sung by Sauerkraut about “exterminating the juice”, at which point you will know whether or not Sausage Party is for you. If the Nazi-styled sauerkraut and the incredibly nervous juice don’t make you laugh, leave immediately. Waste no more time, get your money back (most theaters will refund if you leave within the first few minutes), and go elsewhere. Sausage Party will not “get better” from here.
Because it’s already f*cking BRILLIANT. The song is a big, broad number, the kind of thing we’re used to seeing in Disney movies. But it’s absolutely filthy and the various verses about how different sections of food interpret the message of the gods are scathingly funny. Scathing is a perfect descriptor for Sausage Party. As lowbrow as the humor is, the film is relentless in its mockery of any and everything connected to religion. A bagel—voiced by Edward Norton doing a spot-on Woody Allen impression—and a lavash (David Krumholtz) argue about the bagels displacing the lavash in their aisle, and when Frank suggests that they just share their aisle, both burst into laughter.
I was admittedly nervous after the seeing the trailer, but the way the jokes play out within the full context of the film is nothing short of amazing. Every joke lands! Food items are represented by broad stereotypes, which is where 98% of the humor comes from. I was prepared to hate the Native American liquor bottle “Firewater” (voiced by Bill Hader), but it’s such a mockery of the dumb “How” stereotype portrayed in classic Westerns that I ended up loving Firewater and his equally broad stoner buddies, Mr. Grits and Twinkie. And that’s what makes Sausage Party work: The stereotypes aren’t celebrated, they’re condemned as the source of a lot of unnecessary strife and anger. At one point, Frank blatantly spells this out, in a line of dialogue that feels like the result of a panicked producer note over whether or not people will understand that the stereotypes being used aren’t positive.
Sausage Party treads a very fine line, and it just won’t work for some people, which sucks for those people because this is a f*cking FUNNY movie. Amidst all the food puns—so many, many puns—are tons of clever visual gags and film homages. And the way this movie ends…I kind of want to warn you but then, the joy is in the (lewd) surprise. For the second time this summer a movie made me laugh until I cried—my ribs actually hurt by the end of Sausage Party. That’s the highest praise I can give it—Sausage Party is a rib-sprainer.
(Red band trailer, NSFW):
Attached - Seth Rogen at the Sausage Party premiere last night in LA.