A profound examination of religious faith — buried deep, deep within a hilariously crude, offensive, foul-mouthed animated film.
Imagine if Toy Story was written by South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone, and then sprinkled with a dash of Caligula. Even that probably doesn’t quite capture just how far Sausage Party goes in terms of it’s R-related language and content (supposedly it came close to an NC-17 rating, until they toned it down — yes, toned it down!). As advertised, the cast and creators of This is the End are back, this time to infuse their stoner, ultra-sexualized, black comedy into an animated feature. Sausage Party goes a step beyond just shock-value to deliver its laughs, serving a healthy does of side-splitting puns, curse-words, pop culture references, and hilarious characters. But Sausage Party is also an incredibly clever film. It disguises it’s more contemplative themes of divinity, the existence of an afterlife, and the triviality of religious tensions within the entertaining muck of a hilariously perverse one-note culinary joke — that anthropomorphic foods discover that they’re all doomed to be devoured by humans.
Sausage Party follows Frank (Seth Rogen), a sausage, who yearns to travel to the “Great Beyond”, the term designated by the food in the Shopwell’s grocery store for the world beyond the store’s sliding front doors. Frank also pines for Brenda (Kristen Wiig), a voluptuous hot dog bun. Frank and Brenda are meant to be together, they constantly remind themselves of that and of their belief that in the “great beyond” they’ll be finally able to…well…f*ck each other. When rumor starts to spread via a returned jar of Honey Mustard (Danny McBride) that the “great beyond” is a load of hooey (harsher words are used), Frank starts to panic and yearns to find out the truth, leading him on an adventure through the grocery store as he searches for answers. Along for the ride with Frank and Brenda is the super un-pc satirical duo of Sammy (Edward Norton), a bagel with as many Jewish stereotypical characteristics as you can imagine, and Lavash (David Krumholtz), a lavash bread with just as many stereotypical Muslim characteristics. Yes, there are Jews v. Muslims / Israel v. Palestine jokes aplenty! There are many more characters that join the fun, voiced by top comedic talent and leaving no ethnicity, race, or stereotype left unscathed.
Sadly, I can’t say the same for gender equality, since every single female character in the film is objectified (quite literally) and sexualized. It’s a shame that the script, written and directed by a bunch of dudes including Rogen and Jonah Hill (who voices a “deformed” sausage), couldn’t at least give gender equality a chance in their character treatments.
But let me repeat what this movie is about — anthropomorphic foods discover that they’re all doomed to be devoured by humans. There were about six or seven times while I was watching Sausage Party that I couldn’t believe a feature-length film was actually made from this premise. But then I started laughing. Then I laughed some more. Then I was crying with laugher. Literally, tears were flowing down my face and I emitted awkward snorts as I gasped for air. The final five minutes of the relatively brisk 89 minute film is so shockingly graphic that the entire theater was rolling in their seats (if they weren’t actively disgusted by what they were seeing). Yep, Sausage Party is also a very polarizing film. You can’t blame anyone for despising it. Luckily for Sausage Party, the story goes beyond just the crude packaging, tampering with thematic material that even highly acclaimed dramas have a tough time tackling. I say “luckily” because even viewers with conflicting opinions of Sausage Party can still have a discussion beyond recounting the f-bombs and sexual innuendo. Discussions can focus on how the film depicts divisions of faith, and how it examines the way we prioritize life’s precious moments when the existence of an afterlife drives our behavior, versus when its existence is questioned, if not completely renounced.
Let’s be real, though. No one is seeing Sausage Party to engage in a philosophical examination of religion and faith. No, 99.99% of ticket buyers will be seeing it because the film looks f*cking crude and f*cking hilarious. And it’s both in spades! When at least half of the dialogue consists of the line, “We are <insert adverb> f*cked!“, you know you’re in for a unique treat. I would like to think that when creative individuals can capitalize on a premise such as anthropomorphic foods discover that they’re all doomed to be devoured by humans via a film such as Sausage Party, we’re experiencing comedic bliss in its most indecent form. Then again, we may be creatively f*cked!
Sausage Party opens in theaters Friday, August 12th.