It’s no shock to anyone that an R-Rated cartoon 10 years in the making from Seth Rogan (screenplay and voice of Frank and Sergeant Pepper), Evan Goldberg (screenplay), and Jonah Hill (screenplay and voice of Carl) is rude, crude, and subversive. What may shock you a little more is that they can write a movie with quite a bit of depth. There is no subtlety whatsoever as the metaphors club us over the face the entire running time, but the allegories run surprisingly deep in Sausage Party.
The main story line in Sausage Party is that all the food at Shopwell’s Supermarket believe that they are on the shelves so that they can one day be chosen by the gods to be taken out of the store and off to the Great Beyond where life will be a paradise. Frank and Brenda (Kristen Wiig) are a sausage and a bun who are next to each other on their shelf, and they hope that one day they will be chosen by the same god so they can be joined together. They are chosen together as they’d hoped, but a freak mishap leaves them stranded together outside their packaging along with Sammy Davis Bagel (Edward Norton), Kareem Abdul Lavash (David Krumholtz), and a douche (Nick Kroll) and our foods have to make their way back to their shelves in the hopes they can be chosen again – but, along the way, Frank starts to learn the truth about what happens in the Great Beyond.
The main theme here is a look at religion, particularly monotheism. Politics and culture are also jabbed at here and there throughout Sausage Party, but the focal point of the satire is the big three monotheistic religions. It never even attempts to use subtlety in its skewering of religious belief, as I mentioned in the opening statement, but it’s also a far deeper look into religion than just the “religion is dumb” that you may expect. Yes, it does show the dangers and stupidity inherent in religious belief, but it also looks at what could be the roots of how those beliefs came to be, and the very real purpose they serve, as misguided as they often are. One of the final jabs in the movie, in fact, is turned around to point the finger at atheists, agnostics, and in particular those who mock others with religious faith, and even though everyone is covered, and nearly every belief system is mocked, Sausage Party always has a purpose and never falls into the trap of being mean satire purely for the sake of being mean.
As to the humor in Sausage Party, if you can think of a sexual innuendo, racist slur, or raunchy pun that involves food in any way you can bet it is in here somewhere, and used pretty cleverly, at that. While the jokes themselves are obvious, the set ups only occasionally are, and even on those occasions the writers were making it obvious for a reason. It cannot be overstated just how crude the screenplay is, every four letter word in the book is used over and over again and every body part and function gets joked about on a regular basis, as well, so if you can not abide crassness, then you will not find Sausage Party funny. For those who fall into the not easily offended camp, however, the jokes are the peak of foul humor. It’s rare that a movie can make someone grimace and belly laugh at the same time continuously for nearly its entire length, but Sausage Party is that rarity.
One aspect of Sausage Party that does fall on the underwhelming side, unfortunately, is the CGI. There is nothing wrong with the quality of the animation itself, it’s quite crisp and fluid, in fact, but there is also very little imagination to it. All the characters are very basic food stuffs with little arms and legs that nearly always face toward the audience in a neat little line. There are exceptions to this, such is scenes inside shopping carts when food is piled on top of each other, but the majority of the time you are just watching boxes and tubes with spindly arms and legs making what may as well be a chorus line. This is, in my opinion, a case where making the movie’s characters look so much like their real life counterparts was a mistake, and I wish the directors and animators had made some bolder and more creative visual choices to match the bold directions the script takes.
Sausage Party is not a film I’d recommend to everyone, as it is immensely vulgar and less subtle than a jackhammer in a library, but to those who don’t mind those caveats there will be very little here not to like. It’s both hilarious and intellectual, and that’s a combination that just isn’t seen often enough and needs to be taken advantage of when it appears.
Rating: 7 out of 10