It’s rude, it’s crude, it sets out to push the envelope and succeeds in doing so, but is also quite clever. I’m talking about Sausage Party, an animated feature from the warped minds of Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg and Jonah Hill.
The language is full on. From the outset, it is rampantly sexual with the cartoon snags representing penises and the packeted rolls vaginas. The voice cast includes some of Hollywood’s biggest names, including Rogen and Hill, Kristen Wiig and Salma Hayek, James Franco and Edward Norton, Michael Cera and Paul Rudd, Bill Hader and Danny McBride, to name a few.
The movie is primarily set in a grocery store named Shopwell’s in which the food and other items on the shelves are given human proclivities. Each individual morsel and packaged good simply longs to be bought and taken to what they call “The Great Beyond”, namely the shoppers’ homes. Never, in their wildest imaginations, do they envisage being cut, torn, sliced, diced and masticated. Rather they regard being purchased as their first taste, if you pardon the pun, of nirvana. Frank (voiced by Rogen), a packaged sausage, is in love with a bun named Brenda (Wiig), who is in a pack on the shelf alongside his. One day their wish is granted when they are both the chosen ones.
But things quickly turn from sweet to ugly after a honey mustard jar that was returned to Shopwell’s jumps out of the shopping trolley containing Frank and Brenda because he has borne witness to The Great Beyond and panics. That is merely the starting point. Beyond that we have racial warfare between breads, one named Sammy Bagel Jr. and the other Lavash. There is a guacamole gangster and a lesbian taco, among the other colourful characters.
This computer generated animated comedy is sure to polarise potential audiences. Many will undoubtedly regard it as “sick” and a bridge – or many bridges – too far. Then there will be those who will see it as highly imaginative, a creative step off the pier, if you like. In the reviewers’ screening I attended, there were frequent peels of laughter from some and deathly silence among others. One thing is certain, it definitely has shock value.
I give it far more plaudits than I did another unique, but damn awful Rogen and Goldberg vehicle that came out in 2013, This Is The End (the pair has also been responsible for Superbad and Pineapple Express). But if I am comparing it to at another more obtuse adult animated feature – this time stop motion – that came out last year, namely Anomalisa, from the vivid imagination of Charlie Kaufman, the latter undoubtedly takes the points.
Still, I regard Sausage Party as wickedly subversive, notwithstanding the fact that it seriously overplayed the “F” bomb. Directed by Conrad Vernon (Monsters vs. Aliens) and rated “MA” for very good reason, it scores a 7 out of 10.
Director: Greg Tiernan, Conrad Vernon
Cast: (Voices of) James Franco, Paul Rudd, Seth Rogen, Kristen Wiig
Release Date: 11 August 2016
Rating: MA 15+
David Edwards is the editor of The Blurb and a contributor on film and television