BY NATHAN EVANS
I’ve seen things— terrible things— things no man should see. The horrors of war, delinquent sexual acts, and the effects of rampant drug abuse will forever haunt me. Fortunately all of these things I witnessed were either perpetrated by or afflicted food, so it really wasn’t so bad.
Yes, all of these diseased happenings occurred within the runtime of the Seth Rogen and Even Goldberg penned ‘Sausage Party’, which might just be the filthiest film I’ve ever seen. It follows the exploits of a sausage named Frank, voiced by Rogen, and his fellow package buddies, Barry (Michael Cera) and Carl (Jonah Hill), on the eve of Red, White, and Blue Day (4th of July as we know it). It’s the day all food looks forward to as it increases their chances of venturing into the great beyond: the world outside of their generic supermarket Shopwell’s, alongside the shoppers that they view, and worship, as gods. Barry is particularly anxious to escape his package so he can finally consummate his relationship with Brenda (Kristin Wiig), a bun he’s shared his shelf life with.
Unfortunately, before they can be bought, the food world is shattered when a jar of honey mustard (Danny McBride) is returned from the great beyond. Like me, he’s seen things, things he’s unable to sufficiently articulate before committing suicide and toppling the cart Frank, Brenda, a pharmacy douche, and various other supermarket items were traveling in on their exit from Shopwell’s. Separated from their respective packages, Frank and Brenda undergo an adventure that will lead them to the terrible truth of what happens to food after it leaves the store, while their package mates figure things out in a more hands on fashion.
It’s pretty clear that the script for ‘Sausage Party’ was cooked up in a haze of marijuana smoke, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The film exploits its concept to the fullest, utilizing the different varieties of food to tackle racial stereotypes, sexual orientation, and, most notably and effectively, religion; something that someone who wasn’t under the influence probably wouldn’t have been capable of.
As veterans of Judd Apatow’s blockbuster comedy troupe, Rogen and Goldberg know how to structure a comedy, and unlike Apatow, they know how to cut away the chaff. With the exception of the very end, ‘Sausage Party’ is quite lean. It moves at a respectable pace, never wasting the opportunity for a joke; though sometimes, with the dark nature of what they cover here, you might wish they would have.
Selling the humor more than anything else is the superb computer animation. If you squint, ‘Sausage Party’ looks almost as good as a Pixar film and on par with everything Dreamworks and Illumination is putting out. The idea that an actual production company would put this much money and effort into polishing a film about various food items committing acts of debauchery is reason alone to buy a ticket to see it; though the ridiculousness of the concept is also a double edged sword. Much like the Kevin Smith film ‘Tusk’, one can’t escape the feeling that the movie was only made to see if it were possible to get it made. The result is a film that, despite being genuinely hilarious throughout, lacks resonance.
While I don’t believe ‘Sausage Party’ will go down in history as one of the great comedies, I don’t think it needs to. There’s no denying that Rogen and Goldberg are two of the most original and innovative voices in mainstream comedic filmmaking. Like Smith, they’re unafraid to explore ridiculous concepts inspired by their pot smoking sessions, but unlike Smith, they’re confident enough to put in every effort to make them good. While their approach may not always pay off (see the debacle surrounding their film ‘The Interview’), when it does work the result is something truly special (see ‘This is the End). Luckily, despite its few shortcomings, I can confidently say ‘Sausage Party’ belongs in the latter category.