‘Sausage Party’ is Absolutely Bonkers and Surprisingly Smart

GameStop, Inc.

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Seth Rogen and his gang of collaborators have a very simple premise with their new animated film Sausage Party – what if we took the basic idea of Toy Story, applied to food within a supermarket, and made an animated comedy that pushed the boundaries of taste while retaining a certain level of intelligence? Believe it or not, Sausage Party meets and exceeds all expectations. This is a hilarious piece of animated comedy that goes simply beyond dick jokes and actually injects this silly little story with a sharp commentary on religion and the harsh brand of the New Atheists, but never diminishing the laughs to prove its point.

Each and every day, before the local supermarket opens for business, the various foods and products that line the shelves start their day off with an optimistic song. Their great hope is that the “gods,” the human shoppers, will pluck them from the shelves and take them to “the Great Beyond,” a form of food heaven where nothing could ever go wrong once they pass through the sliding glass doors. With the Fourth of July on the horizon, Frank (Seth Rogen) and his fellow sausages packaged together, including Carl (Jonah Hill) and Barry (Michael Cera), anxiously await their chance to go beyond. Sitting beside them on display are packages the hot dog buns, one of which has Brenda (Kristen Wiig), who has promised herself to Frank when they reach the Great Beyond. These early scenes establish the tone of Sausage Party, one that peddles in crude sexual innuendo with an edge that mocks religious orthodoxy.

When a package of Honey Mustard (Danny McBride) is returned from the Great Beyond, he tells horror stories that contradict the wonderful tales of perfection that exist in the Great Beyond. When Frank and his fellow sausages are chosen alongside Brenda and her fellow buns in the shopping cart, their celebration is cut short by the frantic protests of Honey Mustard, who decides to kill himself instead of returning to the land of horrors known as the Great Beyond. The shopping cart crashes in one of the film’s funniest scenes, featuring the various food characters wounded and maimed in a fog of chaos that is reminiscent of the opening scenes of Saving Private Ryan. Also damaged in the shopping cart crash was Douche (Nick Kroll), whose loss of purpose due to his wounds leads him on a quest for revenge against Frank and company.

Out of their package, Frank and Brenda are stranded in the supermarket as Barry and the other sausages make their way to the Great Beyond. Alongside them is the bagel Sammy (Edward Norton) and Lavash (David Krumholtz), the two representing the never-ending conflict between Palestine and Israel. The quartet wanders the expansive aisles of the supermarket in search for answers as to the nature of the Great Beyond, all the while trying to evade the devious and power hungry Douche.

Sausage Party travels into some questionable waters with its subject matter, especially through its way of having characters take on the ethnic stereotypes of their international foods. Whereas this could easily be misconstrued as some kind of food based Song of the South, the screenplay by Kyle Hunter, Ariel Shaffir, Evan Goldberg, and Rogen (from a story by Goldberg, Rogen, and Jonah Hill) does a strong job of utilizing the supermarket and their themed aisles as a larger metaphor for the shared world we all occupy, a melting pot of anthropomorphic food items. Just because I didn’t find some these caricatures offensive doesn’t mean there won’t be plenty who take exception to Teresa (Selma Hayek) the taco shell, Grits (Craig Robinson), or Firewater (Bill Hader).

The real critique of religion that comes from Sausage Party is through the manner with which the various food items take the tales of the Great Beyond at face value, and of course there are the factions that emerge through the religious beliefs. But when Frank is forced to confront the reality that there may not be a great beyond and that life ends in death, his attempts to pass this information on to the others comes across as rude and condescending. The film really draws a lot of strength by not coming across as a lazy atheist screed a la Ricky Gervais. There’s a concerted effort to examine the way Atheists approach people of faith. Amazingly, Seth Rogen and company have made a sharp piece of criticism at the likes of Richard Dawkins through the use of a cartoon sausage.

Veteran animation directors Greg Tiernan and Conrad Vernon give Sausage Party the look of a modern animated film while treading in the risqué content of sexually charged food items. Sausage Party is absolutely bonkers, pretty offensive in the best way possible, surprisingly smart, and incredibly funny. For all of its questionable content, Sausage Party is 90 minutes of unabashed hilarity that may very well be Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg’s finest work to date. I’ve never seen anything like it.

Sausage Party
  • Overall Score
4

Summary

Raunchy, absurd, and surprisingly smart, Sausage Party pushes the boundaries of taste while crafting an incredibly funny story that also serves as a smart critique of religion and atheism.

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