Sausage Party (2016)

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“He’s flawed, as are we all.”

Well, Sausage Party certainly is insanely ambitious, as well as deserving of a harsh reproach. It asks not if walls could talk, but if the food lining the shelves of supermarkets could, and the results are as varying as the items we’re able to choose from. I admire the vision here, which supposedly Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg had been hatching for 10 years. The most remarkable thing about Sausage Party is that it was even made to begin with, and how the two successfully pitched such a bizarre and hard R-rated animated comedy might be a more interesting story to tell. There’s a golden nugget of truth and a holy grail to be found at the film’s epicenter; we just never get the proper coordinates to actually find them.

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Nestled inside plastic wrap and displayed in the aisles of the local Shopwell grocery store, Frank (Seth Rogen) and the rest of his sausage brethren hope to be chosen by the gods. He’s located next to Brenda the bun (Kristen Wiig), the two a happy couple. Hopefully a god – aka human shopper – will select them together, at which point they’ll be taken to “the beyond.” Then a disaster hits, they’re thrown out of the cart, and the ensuing existential crisis begins to set in. From there, Sausage Party feverishly reprimands all the facets of faith-based living while never really positing a strong alternate position to grab hold of. It’s a doubting Thomas, always needing evidence to see, but not providing the material to encapsulate the surprisingly heady vision behind the antics.

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Truth be told in this tall tale, the gods are monstrous evildoers, eating and scalping and slicing all of the happily bought food items. The behavior becomes a shock to the systemic belief for those who previously blindly pledged allegiance to it, which is where Sausage Party walks a very, very fine line in its pursuit of debunking the mythology of religion while simultaneously parodying Pixar. The formula becomes too much to handle, at times swaying towards heavy-handedness and at others swinging back around into stoner inspired frivolity. By doing so, Sausage Party wants to be intellectually deep and emotionally undemanding. Such an odd coupling usually feels mismatched, and at times unbridled. The film needed restraint rather than a no holds barred attitude.

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The animation itself is on point though, mimicking the gloves and feet of Disney’s early Steamboat Willie combined with the facial expressions of classic Pixar characters. Forget the story issues too and the film at least looks the part it wants to play, somehow dressing up the bland colors of a backyard cookout into a series of adult adventures. While the film itself goes fairly unfulfilled and the characters are irrefutably unmotivated, especially the story’s completely unnecessary antagonist Douche (Nick Kroll), there’s a lot of humor to be had here. Which, in turn, made me wonder why it kept settling time and time again. All the obvious raunchy jokes are told, no stereotype goes untouched or unmentioned, the paramount human element just barely addressed or recognized. This is one of the few animated films that needed more time specifically because there are this many concepts afloat. Rogen’s great idea had the prospective premise to be revelatory and remarkable, so trust me when I say that you’ll laugh your ass off. I just wish it came with a heart or a soul or any vital organ to feel the least bit relatable. But hey, this is talking cuisine after all. Over a somewhat pat 90 minutes, Sausage Party is an easily consumable processed piece of food porn. Not much more or less. 

“Very noble, little sausage. But very pointless.”

Rating: 3 out of 5

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