Don’t be fooled, this party isn’t for kids. Luckily for us adults, it’s quite clever and dumb in equal measure.
Remember that the general public is forgetful. So when you are told Sausage Party is wholly original, a new landscape for animated features, a foray into the vulgar and crude, don’t listen. Matt Stone and Trey Parker did it over fifteen years ago with the first South Park movie and again with Team America: World Police. While Sausage Party doesn’t have the musical stylings of these, it takes a great deal of influence and in turn the result is brilliant, hilarious, political and one of the best scripts to come out of the Seth Rogen/Evan Goldberg machine.
Hot dogs belong in buns. Get it? That’s the premise, as Frank (Rogen) is saving himself for Brenda (Kristen Wiig) and their journey into the ‘Great Beyond’ where ‘Gods’ — us humans — will give them freedom. His sausage buddies Carl (Jonah Hill) and the deformed Barry (Michael Cera) just want to get laid. When Frank and Brenda bust out of their packages and their buddies are taken beyond, Sausage Party becomes a journey of both love and faith. And sex jokes. Lots of those. A little bit of getting stoned, and cracks about people of all shapes and sizes. It follows the “it’s not offensive if everyone is offended” line of tactics. For what it’s worth, there is simply so much being thrown at you in Sausage Party, that if you cease to find the moment to moment dick jokes funny — which you most certainly will — there is enough substance throughout to whet your appetite.
From Frank to Nick Kroll as an animate literal evil douche, everything in Sausage Party’s supermarket of life is on-brand and turned to 11. An opening song — the moment most evocative of Bigger, Longer, Uncut — brilliantly introduces us to the various aisles and the cultures they so gleefully poke fun at. Take the German mustard who hates the juices as a frame of reference and the rest of it falls into place pretty quickly. The best of these involve a thinly veiled metaphor for the Israel/Palestine conflict in the form of a bagel (Edward Norton) and the rival lavash (David Krumholtz). What starts as a pointed gag eventually climaxes harder than almost anyone in the film. It’s good. Really good. And indicative of the way the film handles faith and motivation. It laughs and mocks human simplicity. Sausage Party verges on nihilism, but uses it to remind us what connects us all in the end is our overwhelming uncertainty of the future.
The majority of the film does take place within the supermarket, taking Frank, Brenda and an ever-growing gang of foodstuffs to the non-perishables, frozen food section and beyond. Each aisle brings a new celebrity voice to the mix in a surprisingly consistent fashion. The inconsistency comes in the pacing of the film as a whole. Namely the middle. Once Barry and Carl are taken to the great beyond, their story is put on hold for far too long. The final half of the film cuts deftly between this B-plot and Frank’s struggle, but it feels as if there wasn’t enough there to support itself for more of the film. Cera gives one of the best performances of the leads and his journey is arguably more over-the-top than Frank’s, leading us eventually to Gum, who if you haven’t already had spoiled for you steer clear — he is wonderful. This midpoint pacing issue sticks out like a sore thumb (or something harder) amidst the wonderful first and third acts.
In what is an ending whose meta levels rival that of This is the End it is clear Rogen and Goldberg still hold their irreverence near and dear. Still, Sausage Party is a rarity. A journey into a new type of filmmaking that maintains trademark humor and still manages to contain quality commentary… well, at least compared to The Interview. A sentence rarely goes by without a swear, pot is smoked, and phallic imagery is still on the mind for the entire film, but what they manage to fit in the cracks has both length and girth.
Sausage Party is out in theaters on August 12.