From the hysterically crude minds behind Superbad, Pineapple Express, This Is The End & Bad Neighbours comes possibly the most low brow and explicit film of the year.
Following in the same footsteps as the outstanding digitally animated films of Pixar, Sausage Party is an entirely CG animated feature following the lives of sentient food stuffs in Shopwell’s, a big American supermarket; it’s also extremely R rated. While It’s not the first of its kind (See Free Jimmy, Norway’s first animated film featuring the voices of Simon Pegg and Woody Harrelson – it’s shit though), Sausage Party is looking to be the first mainstream adult animated feature to get global distribution.
In the world of Sausage Party, every single type of food is alive and awaiting to be chosen by the gods. The gods in this case are the human shoppers who come in every day and buy products and bring them to “The Great Beyond” outside of the building. Perched side by side in separate packets are Frank, a hotdog (Seth Rogen) and Brenda, a bun (Kristen Wiig) – They’re deeply in love but haven’t had a chance to truly be together as they’re still restrained by their packages.
At long last, they’ve both been selected together, along with numerous other items to be brought to the holy land; but a recently returned jar of mustard (Danny McBride) who knows the truth of The Great Beyond, hinders their journey by screaming about the horrific afterlife and how an old Native Indian bottle of Firewater tequila (Bill Hader) is hiding the truth from everyone. Jumping out of the shopping trolley, he commits suicide and creates a devastating accident in the aisle. In Frank and Brenda’s desperate attempt to save Mustard, they too are sent out onto the shop floor and engulfed in a haze of flour, reminiscent of the horrific shell-shock sequence from Saving Private Ryan.
Left behind by the gods and teaming up with other fallen food; Kareem Abdul Lavash, a piece of middle eastern lavash bread (David Krumholtz) and Sammy Bagel Jr. a Jewish Bagel (Edward Norton) – the group seek out Firewater to get answers for what happens when they leave for the great beyond.
Much to my surprise, almost the entirety of this film takes place in Shopwell’s itself, which I really liked. There is a small side story following another, squashed sausage named Barry (Michael Cera) who witnesses the depraved activities of The Great Beyond first hand (Which of course to us is the normal act of preparing and eating food), but luckily escapes and is on his own adventure to get back to Shopwell’s and warn the rest. There’s also a side story within the supermarket that follows a Douche (Nick Kroll) who is looking to get revenge on Brenda and Frank as their attempt to save Mustard resulted in Douche being thrown out of the cart too and not being able to get into the shopper’s “Great Beyond”.
The entire film is an allegory for the idea of religion and how it was put in place to give people hope and excitement to look forward to “The Great Beyond”, so that they don’t know the harsh reality that there is no such thing and they’re simply going to their doom. It’s a surprisingly, for lack of a better word, deeper meaning to a film that is effectively Toy Story with violence, orgies and swearing. There is also a lot of political commentary throughout, the most discernible of which is the growing friendship between Lavash and Bagel (Middle east and Israel) which starts with butting heads due to the rival food groups and where they belong to on the shelves, but they realise as they go on that the individuals themselves can’t be blamed for the “occupation of the shelf” when they’re simply caught in the middle of it. As I said, this is a lot smarter than it seems to let on. It’s nice to see something more than just a regular animated film with over 100 fucks.
That doesn’t mean it’s not packed to the brim with some of the most uncensored low-brow humour you’re likely to hear this year. From the opening minutes, this film is littered with innuendos (made even easier given the fact they’re all food items), sex jokes, drugs, and foul language and it doesn’t let up until the credits finish. A lot of it is very clearly geared towards a teenage audience who would find it the funniest. I love all kinds of humour, low-brow is no exception but at times it’s trying way too hard. It’s an issue I have with a lot of American comedy these days and I plan to address it at some stage in a big article about my biggest problems within the genre. It can sometimes be very clear when Seth Rogen’s writing is at the forefront and not the other collaborators.
It was great to see it was co-directed by a fellow Dubliner but it’s disappointing to hear that there’s an apparent lawsuit coming his way due to the extreme working conditions he set out for the animators who weren’t paid for overtime and some even blacklisted for calling him out. Very shady business there if you ask me.
There’s some great tunes on the soundtrack and one of them is brilliantly incorporated into the film; a long haired, bike riding piece of meatloaf sings the rockstar, Meatloaf’s platinum hit, “I’d Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That)” – I found that to be one of the most enjoyable references of the lot.
The animation itself was fine for what it was. The facial animation looked great and the characters all looked suitably cartoonish. It’s very clear that the intention wasn’t to make it an awe inspiring piece of work like Pixar but to use it as a canvas to paint ideas they otherwise would never have been able to do, especially the levels of depravity that the film goes to towards the end. I don’t think any animator has been tasked with creating such imagery before.
Infuriatingly, I’ve seen some criticism of the film due to it’s title being called “Sausage Party” which some humourless gee bags have rendered as exclusive to those who don’t have… sausages. Of course these people are devoid of the very concept of comedy and don’t know how to just enjoy things without looking for a reason to be offended.
What I Liked:
- Clever writing
- Some hilarious moments
- Great soundtrack
- Comfortable setting
What I Didn’t Like:
- At times tries too hard
- Comes to a relatively meh conclusion
- Some weed humour that only really applies to 15 year olds – Which I suppose is the demographic
- Some jokes didn’t land at all, relying too heavily on swear words.
All in all, Sausage Party manages to be both very dumb and very smart, which is difficult to pull off these days. There’s a good few jokes that don’t land but the ones that do, land hard. Recommended you see it in a full cinema with a full belly of booze
Sausage Party is in Irish and UK cinemas from September 2nd.