THE AISLE SEAT - by Mike McGranaghan
Sausage Party is the first movie in the history of cinema to feature a douche raping a juice box. It plays the use of “bath salts” for laughs, and depicts food items as sexual beings who enjoy every form of carnality you can imagine. Animated movies have a long history of anthropomorphizing inanimate objects (toys in Toy Story, automobiles in Cars, plastic building bricks in The LEGO Movie, etc.). Sausage Party anthropomorphizes your groceries, and does so in a manner that is profane, vulgar, and extremely funny.
The story takes place in a supermarket. The food items dream of the day when one of the “gods” (i.e. shoppers) will choose them to go to “the promised land” outside the store. Seth Rogen provides the voice of Frank, a hot dog in a pack who's in love with one of the buns, Brenda (Kristen Wiig), beside him on a shelf. They dream of the day when he can stick himself inside her. One day, a jar of honey mustard (Danny McBride) is returned after having been purchased. He informs everyone that the gods are not benevolent; they kill and consume the food in gruesome ways that include peeling, chopping, and boiling. This revelation creates a panic during which Frank and Brenda escape their packaging. Together, they go on a quest for greater understanding of the meaning of their lives.
Sausage Party also includes the previously mentioned angry douche (Nick Kroll), a lesbian taco (Salma Hayek), a box of grits (Craig Robinson), and a bottle of firewater (Bill Hader) who offers ancient wisdom to Frank. Edward Norton does the voice of Sammy, a bagel from the ethnic foods aisle who clashes with a hostile piece of lavash bread (David Krumholtz) in a running gag that spoofs conflict in the Middle East. Michael Cera and Jonah Hill play fellow weiners. Among the few human characters are a druggie (James Franco) and a nerdy store employee (Paul Rudd). This is an amazing cast.
It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that the plot of Sausage Party is a metaphor for religion – one that suggests there really is nothing out there. (Or nothing good, at least.) This theme may trouble religious viewers for whom the expression of atheism is unsettling. Still, the movie – written by Rogen, Evan Goldberg, Kyle Hunter, and Ariel Shaffir – clearly states that faith offers many people a worthy sense of hope, while simultaneously suggesting that non-believers should respect the views of those who do believe.
Of course, no theme is going to be explored in substantial depth in a movie about talking edibles. The real genius of Sausage Party lies in its seemingly endless well of food-related puns and observational gags. They are truly astounding in their creativity. Great care has been taken to create appropriate personalities for each food type, and the film also mines big laughs from showing how the items are tortured. For instance, a mess created in a grocery store aisle is played like the Normandy Beach scene in Saving Private Ryan. An Oreo forlornly picks up one of its cookie pieces and marches off, and a jar of peanut butter grieves over a jar of jelly that has splattered on the ground. Many of the jokes are front and center, others hidden in the back. Regardless of where they are, the inventiveness of them is continually impressive.
If anything outdoes the food humor, it's the sex jokes. You may never look at the stuff you eat the same way again after seeing it portrayed in such an erotic manner. But that's Sausage Party in a nutshell. It doesn't know the meaning of the term “politically correct.” Every nationality, religion, and sexual orientation takes a ribbing. If there's a profanity, the movie uses it multiple times. Anything that might potentially offend someone is cheerfully utilized in the name of comedy. There may not be a great plot here, but that no-holds-barred attitude, coupled with the ingeniousness of the jokes, ensures consistent incredulous laughter for the non-timid.
Sausage Party is like a Pixar movie that's gotten hopped up on crystal meth and Viagra.
( out of four)
Sausage Party is rated R for strong crude sexual content, pervasive language, and drug use. The running time is 1 hour and 29 minutes.
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