“Dear Gods, you’re so divine in each and every way…”
Aren’t we low on animated films that cater to the adult audience? Sure, every animation is some way nods to the parents taking their kids to see the film, be it a sexual euphemism or a reflection on growing up. The most acclaimed animated films are those that have something for both children and adults. However, why not just have an adult-orientated animation? Off the top of my head, I can think of ‘Persepolis’ and ‘Waltz With Bashir.’ Next to them, ‘Sausage Party’ looks like something created by teenagers. But ‘Sausage Party’ contains more than just lewd and crude humour (although it has tonnes of that). It may not be the best comedy of the year, but it is damned funny and has something to say (although it rams it down your throat!).
The premise is like something from a twisted Pixar film: all your grocery items can talk. They are sentient. In a supermarket called ‘Shopwell’s’, the grocery items look forward to being bought by humans. The humans, or ‘gods’ in the grocery items’ belief, take the food to the (vague) “great beyond.” Frank, a hot dog, and Brenda, a hot dog bun, want to enter the “great beyond” together (and, you know, have intercourse…). However, a jar of honey mustard returns from “the great beyond” with the revelation that “the great beyond” is nothing but a nightmare, a great lie…
“They’re eating children!”
Of course, the first thing that you’ll notice about the synopsis is that it’s a thinly veiled allusion to religion. Why do these grocery items put so much faith into the unprovable “great beyond”? Why do a big chunk of the human population put so much faith into the concept of a god and an afterlife? For the grocery items, the “great beyond” is a symbol of their desire for a better life. Frank and Brenda believe they will be set free by the “gods” when they are bought. Do we believe in gods because our lives are as mundane as a Frank’s, a talking hot dog who is stuck inside plastic packaging?
Another sideswipe at religion comes at the overt reference to the Israel/Palestine divide. In Frank’s travels around the grocery store, he encounters a lavash named Kareem and a bagel named Sammy. The former is obviously Palestinian, the latter obviously Jewish. Their constant bickering about shelf space is often funny. Not only is it funny, but it’s refreshing; not often do we even get a hint about the Israel/Palestine conflict in cinema. The lavash and the bagel are stereotypes, but in ‘Sausage Party,’ all the foods are based on stereotypes (the sauerkrauts are led by a Hitler-esque dictator, for example). Unlike most stereotypical takes on characters, the ‘Sausage Party’ characters distinguish the characters for us and make their conflicts and resolution easier to understand.
“Make it rain!”
A comedy that has something to say, even if it is so overt, should be something to celebrate. But it’s not a comedy if there’s nothing to laugh about. And the beginning and the end of ‘Sausage Party’ are, on the whole, hilarious. The opening song is not only packed full of humour, but delineates the conflicts and characters that will endure throughout the film. An early scene displaying the chaos of a trolley accident is rib-tickling; it’s played out like a battle scene in a war film. Food items scream and tumble through clouds of flour (a tin holds its spaghetti like loose intestines). A scene in the kitchen, where the food items discover what the “gods” do to the food, is equally hilarious. You’ll never peel a potato in the same way after seeing it!
Scenes like those are when ‘Sausage Party’ is at its most inventive and clever. It may rely too much on obvious puns, lewd, crude and stereotypical humour, but the jokes do tend to pay off more often than not. You’ll never forget the obscene finale, as well. However, the chunk in the middle feels dragged out, and that’s worrying for a film that is less than an hour and a half. There is a loss of creativity and humour in favour of merely telling the story. Having a literal douche as the villain may be funny for the first half of the film, but the joke soon wears off. Supposedly Seth Rogan has been working on this film for ten years, so why did he not put as much thought and innovation into the middle section as he did into the beginning and the end?
However, when ‘Sausage Party’ hits home, it is very funny. It gave me more belly laughs than any other film I’ve seen at the cinema this year (although, admittedly, I’ve not seen many comedies in the cinema this year!). The reliance on lewd and crude humour may grate on some people, but for those people who like their humour obscene, ‘Sausage Party’ will be a winner. Not only that, but the comedy has something to say about religion and global politics. To explain exactly why would spoil the film. The message may not be subtle, but sometimes subtlety is unnecessary. And who needs subtlety when a hot dog wants to pork a hot dog pun? It may sag in the middle, but the opening scenes and the final scenes are some of the most memorable of the cinematic year.
VERDICT: 7/10. It may be loud, rude and crude, but ‘Sausage Party’ at its best is inventive, fairly clever, and very funny. It has something to say, although it may be as obvious as a douche being a douche. The low point is the middle, which drags the film down to a snail’s pace. But you’ll laugh more than a few times, in spite of yourself.
What did you think of ‘Sausage Party’? Leave your thoughts/comments below!