After more than 20 years, Toy Story still leers over our animation industry. We’ve already discussed how The Secret Life of Pets stole wholesale from that film and we weren’t particularly impressed over here. Sausage Party has done nothing but reinforce that problem. By personifying inanimate objects, that will always be a shadow on any film that tries to do that over again. It’s the journey that can feel all too familiar. But Sausage Party has one thing those other films don’t: an R rating. And boy does the movie need to keep reminding you that it’s R rated, though that’s not always a bad thing this time around.
In the universe of Sausage Party, various food items from a big supermarket chain believe that when they are bought they will be taken to the Great Beyond, a place where Seth Rogen‘s Frank, a hot dog wiener, and Kristen Wiig‘s Brenda, a hot dog bun, will finally be able to have sex outside of their packages. It’s the eve of the fourth of July weekend and it’s expected that all buns and wieners will be off the shelves by the time that day comes. It’s not until Honey Mustard (Danny McBride) comes to warn them, after being returned for the wrong product, they will be eaten and there is no time to shag.
I feel that it’s pretty unnecessary to state this, but Sausage Party is INCREDIBLY crude. Seth Rogen’s schtick has begun to wear on me within the last 5 years. I’ve rather enjoyed The Interview and The Night Before, but those films didn’t exist just as an excuse for a group of guys to gather round and tell jokes about dicks and then show dicks on screen just because they look funny. Don’t get me wrong, they do look funny and I’m sure those films I just listed also show them, but the central concept of the film isn’t just to make a big dick joke and laugh about themselves. Yes, I have been unsubtly referring to This is the End. Still funnier than any Adam Sandler comedy of the last ten years, the reason it was made seems to be the same. They just want to get together and have a fun time laughing at dicks. And that’s what that movies was.
I’ll also be the first to admit that I didn’t particularly enjoy the first 15 minutes of Sausage Party for all the reasons mentioned above. Setting up the plot for this film means making all the super obvious jokes inherent within the concept of the film. Rogen and his 3 co-writers just want you to know that the foods in this movie swear. “Can’t you see that they swear? It’s animated too!” The initial shock wears off quickly and it’s a shame they have to drag Alan Menken through the ringer just so he can write a song for them. The song does show up again in a great way, but it feels cheap, although I’m sure Menken wasn’t.
Sausage Party gets out of doing their tired bit when they introduce actual characters and interesting conversations; simplistic answers are given within these conversations, but they’re interesting nonetheless. Aside from an annoying Nick Kroll performance as Douche (yes, that kind of douche), Rogen and crew give us several fun characters like Craig Robinson‘s Mr. Grits, Michael Cera‘s deformed sausage Barry, Salma Hayek as Teresa Del Taco, the lesbian taco shell, and Bill Hader in a dual role as Firewater, a native american bottle of alcohol, and El Guaco, a gangster bottle of tequila. Have I mentioned that this movie can be really offensive?
My favorite part of the movie centers around Edward Norton as a jewish bagel, named Sammy Bagel Jr, and David Krumholtz as Kareem Abdul Lavash, the lavash. In case you needed any more reason to see this movie, these characters’ entire purpose seems to start some sort of conversation about the crisis between Israel and Palestine. The argument could be made that it’s really too simplistic to effectively talk about that. And I couldn’t say that argument is invalid. But this whole section of the film, at the very least, is possibly the most bold thing I have seen all summer. The fact that Edward Norton even came into a recording booth to do his best Woody Allen impression is baffling and worth the price of admission. I don’t know how this whole thing came about, but I am so glad it did.
I would like to say the animation is impressive, but it’s decent at best. There’s really nothing to complain about, but I don’t even see it as groundbreaking from 5 years ago. I will give a shout-out to Greg Tiernan and Conrad Vernon though. It takes balls to dedicate a few years of your life to something like this. At a brisk 88 minutes, the directors only let the movie grind to a halt at the very end, but I feel like they didn’t have much creative control when it came to that stuff. But there is enough narrative momentum and intelligent, grotesque humor to keep the movie going.
By the time we get to the very end, things go back to the way they were in the beginning. Not narratively speaking, but all intelligence has gone out the window for a scene that is beyond unnecessary. While funny to a lot of 15 year olds, shocking to sheltered people, and just annoying to me, it seemed like something that they felt was as important as any of the story stuff. You can have one thing, but don’t extend it to the point of shocking just for shocking’s sake. Rogen and friends almost had a home-run.
While I have plenty of reservations with Sausage Party, I felt that this movie was absolute fun. There are so many moments in the film that I could do without, but even more that I’m happy they kept in. Refreshing and mostly original, the creators have made something worth celebrating and people should be thankful for that. Here’s hoping they never run it into the ground with a sequel…
- This movie has more imagination than almost anything all summer long
- Voice acting is incredible and diverse
- Has the ability to be edgy, offensive, and flat-out ridiculous without even pushing you away
- Only movie to attempt a conversation on the Israel/Palestine argument in a long time
- Beginning and very end are unnecessary
- Seth Rogen doesn't understand that seeing something gross isn't funny
- Animation is nothing to write home about
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