Review: Raunchy, Hilarious 'Sausage Party' Crosses Every Line Possible
by Jeremy Kirk
August 11, 2016
Sausage Party is offensive. It doesn't just cross the line. It gleefully tramples all over the line, recklessly abandoning any and all boundaries to which a film may adhere, let alone an animated film. Sausage Party is also hilarious. Neither of these claims are surprising to anyone who knows anything about the people behind the film, Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg. The content of their 2014 comedy, The Interview, created so much worldwide backlash the film was dropped on torrent sites illegally via hackers; then pulled from its original, theatrical release; and released directly to Netflix. The pair is no stranger to controversy and may even seek it out. Regardless, the team serves its audience well, and the comedy found in Sausage Party is uproarious if you're able to even stomach it. At least fruits and vegetables can't hack computers.
The team's passion project for nearly 10 years, Rogen and Golberg both receive "Story by" credits along with Jonah Hill, the general conceit not offering anything groundbreaking for the animated world. Like Toy Story in a supermarket, Sausage Party centers on the lives our food and daily household products that live amidst the aisles and aisles of packed shelves. The food lives a generally happy life, waking up every morning to a sunny song about the "Gods" who roam the store and hoping those Gods choose them for admittance into the "Great Beyond" outside the store's sliding doors.
One of these food items is Frank (voiced by Rogen), a hot dog still in his package along with his fellow, hot dog brethren. Frank's shelf is shared with Brenda (voiced by Kristen Wiig), a bun still in her packaging with the other, female buns. Frank and Brenda have grown a relationship from afar, only able to touch the tips of their fingers through small openings in their respective packages. Their only dream is for one of the Gods to choose them together so Frank can finally slide into Brenda, and there's really no way to describe that without it sounding disgusting. However, Frank and Brenda are about to learn a horrible secret about their lives and what lies in the Great Beyond, and, as with any, good, animated film, adventure ensues.
As with any, good comedy hilarity naturally ensues, as well, and knowing Rogen and Goldberg are behind this is a pretty good indication debauchery is right around the corner, too. You shouldn't expect anything else from the pair that gave us films like Pineapple Express and This Is the End, and, to their credit, Rogen and Goldberg deliver on any expectations you might have. Sometimes this comes at the price of good taste, but that's as subjective as the comedy itself. Sausage Party doesn't shortchange any group that may take offense with some of the film's comedy, the "ethnic" foods falling into every stereotype imaginable and stereotypical attitudes falling right into place, as well.
It goes way beyond casting choices like Salma Hayek voicing Teresa, a taco, or Craig Robinson voicing Grits. The representations provided for most of the characters fall into one kind of generalization or another. Most of them are cringeworthy from the outset, their morning song establishing right up front what most of the foods feel about their surroundings, the idea of the "Gods" and what they represent, and even their attitudes towards one another. The Nazi-dressed sauerkraut despises the juice, giving you an idea of the type of comedy - and puns - you're in store for.
Thankfully most of the actual jokes in the film don't begin and end with those generalizations. Rogen and Goldberg, who receive screenplay credits alongside writers Ariel Shaffir and Kyle Hunter, never miss an opportunity for comedy, and Greg Tiernan and Conrad Vernon, the film's directing team, keep the adventure and levity at a constant stream. Oftentimes you aren't given the opportunity to become offended by one of the film's jokes, as it moves quickly from gag to gag brushing by the potential offense in search of more comedy. The success rate on those gags is fairly high here, as well.
Though it never solidifies a clear message Sausage Party does find time amidst all the raunch and sarcasm to attempt a genuine dialogue, intolerance being a key to all that stereotyping happening on the surface. Where else but in the world of animation will you find a bagel and a lavash on an adventure together, the generality that makes the bagel Jewish and the lavash Middle Eastern also providing the stage for them to work out their differences on that adventure. Edward Norton does his best Woody Allen impression for the voice of Sammy Bagel, Jr., while David Krumholtz voices Vash with a not surprising tone of sincerity.
That subplot hints at the message of intolerance the filmmakers behind Sausage Party are working towards. There's also a hint of the way we, as humans, mix those messages and instill our own sensibilities into them, but much of this is swept by and brushed over for the sake of, you guessed it, comedy. As irreverent and unabashedly filthy as that comedy gets, it never causes Sausage Party to lose sight of its emotional core. This is something else Rogen & Goldberg have always been keen on, and, even though the heart gets mixed in with a tremendous amount of toilet humor, the film seems to effortlessly find its way through the maze of obscenities and offensive visuals to find what really works here. Sausage Party is sure to make you cringe, it may even offend you, but there's a better chance it will have you rolling with laughter and begging for more.
Jeremy's Rating: 4 out of 5
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