Sausage Party (2016) (R)
This review contains SPOILERS!
"Sausage Party" is shock comedy and shouldn't be considered anything else; but this in of itself isn't a bad thing. The writers and producers are allowed to get away with a lot, and I mean, a lot, just because of the group of faces that we're familiar behind the film: Seth Rogen, Kristen Wiig, Danny McBride, Bill Hader, Jonah Hill, Michael Cera, etc. etc. These may be the voice actors, but you'll notice that the production team also tends to gravitate to the same works. So take "This Is the End" and mix it with "Toy Story" and you've essentially got "Sausage Party".
Here's the set-up: food has sentience and believes that humans are gods that will take them to the "great beyond" (outside the supermarket) and there they will experience paradise. So on the Fourth of July weekend, all the food wants to be picked so it can be taken to a better place, little knowing that outside the grocery, a grisly death awaits them.
The premise of sentient food starts to become a little hazy for me as intimate objects are introduced to the plot as well. One of the villains of the film, aside from humans themselves, is a douche (Nick Kroll riffing off his "Parks & Rec." character) who wants to cause the demise of our leads Frank (Rogen) the frankfurter and Brenda the bun (Wiig), a lovely couple waiting until 'the great beyond' before they can 'do it' if you know what I mean. For me, as we start seeing more and more objects gain sentience, I wonder where the line should be drawn. Obviously for the sake of the film, there are some liberties are made, but the writers open pandora's box for the sake of comedy and aren't quite able to shut it for the coherence of the plot.
Paradise is viewed as a place of great sexual pleasure, and food must abstain from from mixing while in the store for fear of displeasing the gods. Obviously 'taste' and 'sex' are cleverly playing off each other; but 'nuance' is not a word that I would use to describe this movie.
First let's address what Rogen and company do 'intelligently' with the movie. There are two large commentaries going on here: racism and religion. The latter is the more obvious and "Sausage Party" becomes a not-so-subtle attack on everything Christian and conservative. The idea of sexual purity is also mocking more conservative ideas, because, obviously you can't expect a bunch of weed-smoking produce to come up with the idea of God-inspired morality at the end of their movie.
The racism commentary is something cringe-worthy mainly because it's treated like the non-issue the writers see it as. Sometimes it feels a little too optimistic for its own good (a large arc involves food-puns on the conflicts of the Middle East). Most of these moments are designed to offend, particularly as Frank realizes that these gods are just after blood and gore, which while might be one way of reading religion, the end result is the intellectual superiority of Frank about the rest of the "f**king idiots".
"Sausage Party" feels like it has something to prove. It knew it had to get an "R" rating, but sometimes its humor doesn't ring true, plus it doesn't make that much sense. For instance, not to be too crude, but I'm not sure how honey mustard would know the intricacies of human ejaculation pornography; but maybe that's none of my business.
The movie is rude, and crude, and shocking, and funny at times. This is a film that tries to make you laugh through the shock, and yes, there is some clever writing with food-puns aplenty but that's not really enough for me to make up for the lack of something a little more solid.
And sure, this isn't striving to be fine art; but somehow the film has managed to charm many a critic and audience...and I see why. It targets just the right group of 'bullies' to be shockingly satirical; and there's enough f-bombs dropped to keep kids out of the theater. Maybe it's escapism, or maybe it's just hollow at the end.
Once you've thrown the 'rule book' of acceptable behavior out the window, the shocks become a little more predictable and a little less in your face. And of course there's the ending which blows everything else out of the water. I don't think anyone is just going to stumble into the theater not knowing what they're getting themselves into, but just in case, maybe you shouldn't take mom to this one.
Posted by Micah Jones