EXPECTATIONS: A mildly amusing experience that gets the most out of its one-joke premise.
REVIEW: Seth Rogen has always been associated with stoner humour and raunchy comedy, but in the case of Sausage Party, he takes it to a whole new level. With animated films that have anthropomorphised objects like toys (i.e. the Toy Story films) and cars (i.e. Cars), Rogen had the idea to anthropomorphise consumer products while retaining his own sense of humour.
And while the trailer was amusing in its own right, it implied that the movie was just a one-joke premise, which is seeing food swearing. But with daring animated films like South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut and Team America: World Police, both of those films effectively mixed vulgar humour with timely themes. So does Sausage Party make a big enough impression to join alongside those two fantastic films?
Co-writer/star Seth Rogen voices Frank, a sausage who is part of the grocery store called “Shopwell’s”. All the groceries of the many aisles all dream of one thing: to be chosen by a customer (seen as Gods) and be taken to the Great Beyond. But according to a supposedly crazed chosen one who had returned (voiced by Danny McBride), he says that the story is all bullshit. After knowing the horrifying truth of what the humans do with the consumer products, the groceries will have to set aside all of their differences of faith and product origin to unite as one and fight back against the humans before the day of celebration.
Unless you’ve read articles about the film, I’m going to be murky about the story details. If you thought this film was just a typical Seth Rogen joint that just so happens to be in animation, then prepared to be surprised. Not only does Sausage Party succeed as a hilariously unhinged and unadulterated comedy, it also succeeds almost as well as providing food for thought. Much like the South Park film dealt with censorship and how Team America dealt with the global implications of United States politics, Sausage Party deals with the conflict between science and religion and existentialism.
Like how everyone is conditioned to believe without any substantial proof or how small differences with each other can drive each other apart so easily to even innate fears that we do not even question that prevent us of our desires, all of this conveyed with wit and raunchiness that offers gut-busting laughs. A scene involving non-perishable groceries (voiced by Bill Hader, Craig Robinson and Scott Underwood) revealing the truth about the Great Beyond satirizes the creation of the Bible so furiously, that had me tearing up with laughter.
What is also surprising is the world-building, which is just as good as Pixar. The grocery store is filled with distinct characters and the many different aisles are so well-realized, that they can be characters of their own. Sure, there are many racial stereotypes, but with the themes they are dealing with and the comedic force they have, you’re bound to break a lot of boundaries.
And speaking of boundaries, Sausage Party not only destroys them, but it defecates and urinates all over them, stomps on them into oblivion and sets them on fire. And that is definitely true in the final act, where every single depraved action known to man is committed in all of its glory. Movie references to Terminator 2 and Saving Private Ryan hit the mark with ease while also adding punch to the offensive feel. Every single race and orientation will find something in the film that has the potential to offend, but the film’s gleeful attitude towards excess is so undeniable that you can’t help but be swept up by the hilarity of it all.
Most of the credit is to the cast. Seth Rogen and Kristen Wiig play their roles with such sincerity (well, as much as the premise allows), that their relationship actually becomes substantial enough to invest in. Michael Cera is great as Barry, the sausage in the unfortunate position of being a coward, and his subplot is a very enjoyable side-quest that is actually an amusing twist of a scene in Toy Story.
While the other supporting cast are great, the best includes Nick Kroll, who plays a villainous douche (literally, of course) with such enthusiasm, that he becomes a villain you love to hate instead of dreading him every time he shows up. And there’s Edward Norton, who plays a bagel with such a killer Woody Allen impression that I would love to see Allen’s impression if he ever gets to see Norton’s performance.
Besides the supposed flaw that the film will possibly offend everyone, the film can be incredibly brash and insistent in its message and themes, which can irk some. Also, I was a bit disappointed that there was only one song in the film. With a great talent like Alan Menken, who has given so much to films with his musical genius, I was expecting more.
But overall, Sausage Party is a hilariously fun time at the movies, but with its thought-provoking plot and its gloriously excessive attitude towards political incorrectness, it is elevated to cult status alongside the South Park film and Team America: World Police. The film ends with a lead-in to a sequel, and the idea for it is so profoundly silly, that I would love to see where it goes.
Surprisingly thought-provoking plot
The go-for-broke approach to politically incorrect humour
Fantastic voice cast
The extremely satisfying final act
Will offend almost everyone
Lack of musical numbers
This review can be also seen at THE IRIS. Visit the site by pressing the picture above.
Cast: Seth Rogen, Kristen Wiig, Michael Cera, Jonah Hill, Edward Norton, Salma Hayek, Nick Kroll, David Krumholtz, Craig Robinson, Bill Hader
Director: Greg Tiernan, Conrad Vernon
Screenwriter: Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg, Kyle Hunter, Ariel Shaffir, Jonah Hill