Sausage Party Review
People went complely bananas when the trailer for Seth Rogen’s latest film hit the web and it’s not hard to see why. Not only is it an extremely well put together trailer, but it also gave us something we haven’t really seen since South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut: an R-rated animated comedy. That’s why it’s been nearly impossible to scroll through Facebook without seeing this trailer. Apparently, there’s a huge demand for cute, CGI characters dropping f-bombs. Who knew? Seth Rogen is at an interesting point in his career where he basically has free reign to do whatever the hell he wants. A movie about him and James Franco trying to assassinate a real life dictator? Check. A TV show based on a comic about a posessed preacher and his vampire friend? No problem. Each idea has been more outrageous than the last, but Sausage Party might be the pinnacle. I was lucky enough to catch an early screening at this year’s Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival, which proved to be an interesting experience.
For those who don’t know, Bonnaroo has a cinema tent where they show everything from documentaries to R. Kelly’s Trapped in the Closet every year. It’s a popular place to be, especially because it’s one of the few areas with air conditioning. I had been sitting there comfortably for the past few hours, but all of that changed when the movie was set to begin. People flocked into the building by the dozens and we were ironically packed into the auditorium like a bunch of sausages. This wouldn’t have been so bad if everyone had bathed recently, but this is a music festival we’re talking about. I’ll admit it’s not the ideal environment to watch a movie in, but I was able to power through it.
If you haven’t seen the trailer 300 times already, the premise to Sausage Party is pretty simple. Remember the little aliens in the claw machine from Toy Story? Replace the aliens with talking food and that’s it. Everyone wants to be chosen and taken to the promised land until they discover the truth about what happens to food when it leaves the store. The movie starts with a musical number written by Alan Menken, which definitely gives it the Disney vibe they’re clearly going for. It’s a great way to set the tone and it’s a shame they didn’t turn the whole thing into a musical. Unfortunately, the first part of the film relies heavily on the idea that animated characters saying bad words is really funny. This works well as the big reveal in a trailer, but it doesn’t have the same effect when you’re being beaten over the head with it right out of the gate.
There are some clever jokes sprinkled throughout Sausage Party if you’re able to look past all of the groan-worthy hot dog-related innuendo and don’t mind sitting through a plethora of racial stereotypes. This movie should either offend no one or everyone, but I’m not sure which. Let’s just say you’ll be seeing a few blogs posting thinkpieces after this movie’s release, particularly about the way they tackle the Israel/Palestine conflict. The writers also set up an Invention of Lying-style mockery of religion, but it’s never really fleshed out enough to seem meaningful. Instead, we have a good portion of the movie devoted to an outdated joke about bath salts. This played well with the Bonnaroo crowd, but I don’t know if I can see general audiences getting onboard with it.
Sausage Party is honestly at its funniest when it’s not trying so hard to be raunchy. A jar of honey mustard delivers a whole monologue about jizz and it’s not nearly as funny as the single line delivered by a roll of toilet paper. The film also ends with what might be the most graphic scene ever produced with computer animation. I won’t spoil it here, but it definitely favors shock value over cleverness. Even the crowd at Bonnaroo went a bit silent, which is really saying something. I can only imagine how general audiences will react.
The animation is almost on par with Pixar, but Sausage Party often mistakes profanity for actual humor. That being said, it’s worth seeing for the sheer ridiculousness of it all. It may be the only time you get to see an animated bagel have sex on the big screen and isn’t that what going to the movies is all about?