Sausage Party review by Mark McPherson - Cinema Paradiso
The grand appeal of Sausage Party is the subversion of mainstream animation. It attempts to shatter the notion that computer animation is a medium primarily reserved for children and families by offering up a savage satire of anthropomorphism. Embracing an R-rating, this is a CGI adventure that is loaded with adult language, drug use, excessive violence/gore and explicit acts of sex. For the audience that has never seen such vulgarity in an animated movie, Sausage Party will be a delicious slice of counter-programming where the adults finally get to enjoy an animated movie on their level of humor. For anyone else familiar with the works of Ralph Bakshi or Heavy Metal, this will come off as just another one of Seth Rogen’s raunchy joints with an animation glaze.
The picture is a farce on the concept of talking food, primarily set in a grocery store where products with food desire to be taken home. They see humans as gods and the exit of the store as the great beyond, what they perceive to be eternal paradise. They have no idea that their entire purpose in life is to be consumed as they’ve apparently never seen any human in the store eat something. It’s a rather strange store in how they have the oddest placement, storing packages of hot dogs next to packages of buns on the same shelf.
They need to be close, however, as the hot dog of Frank (Seth Rogen) can form a bond with the female bun Brenda (Kristen Wiig). They can’t wait to be chosen together by the humans so that Frank can be inside Brenda, an experience that’s apparently a sexual act. But when they are tipped out of a shopping cart by a crazed jar of honey mustard (Danny McBride) that knows the truth about the great beyond, Frank and Brenda set out on an adventure through the grocery store to make it back home. Meanwhile, the stubby runt of a hot dog Barry (Michael Cera) is taken to the great beyond and escapes the clutches of the humans after witnessing a horrific sight of food preparation.
For the first act, Sausage Party has a bit of clever crass and vicious shock. When Frank and Brenda tumble out of the cart, more food spills out creating a gruesome Saving Private Ryan parody of dying products. When Barry watches his friends being consumed in the great beyond, it’s a brutal sight of characters pleading for their lives as they are chopped, sliced, shredded and chomped. Throughout this horror show, there is a questioning of their beliefs and how religion has clouded their minds - a surprising allegory for a movie such as this.
But as the movie goes on, it begins to favor more easy humor and lose sight of its message. When the script isn’t relying on the shock of watching animated characters curse or be brutally murdered, it’s mostly food puns. And I mean A LOT of food puns. A handful are offensively clever as with the jars of sauerkraut that want to exterminate “the juice”, but most of them are lame as when Frank speaks to corn with the phrase “lend me your ears.” These are gags so juvenile in their conception that they feel more in place with lesser Saturday morning cartoons than an adult animated comedy.
The message of anti-religion has a few brilliant moments of intelligent perspective and irreverent commentary, but mostly becomes childishly blunt as the movie loses sight of this theme by the third act. Most audiences will praise the picture for even having a message at all, even if it’s handled as awkwardly as Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg handle all their scripts. And for as darkly-comedic as it is to watch cute food products suffer painful death, the shock and awe wears off by the third act that seems to rely entirely on the sight of food being killed and humans being murdered by them.
For as politically incorrect, rebellious and offensive as Sausage Party wants to be, it doesn’t quite reach its full potential of being the provocative adult animated comedy it aims to be. It’s sure to garner a few good laughs from its premise that lets the older audience have fun with computer animation. But in comparison to the R-rated animated pictures of Fritz the Cat, Heavy Traffic and Coonskin, films that had more to say in their raunch and shock, Sausage Party tastes slightly undercooked.