Starring: Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill, Kirsten Wiig, Edward Norton, Religious Stereotypes
Directed: Conrad Vernan and Greg Tiernan
Running Time: 89 minutes
Synopsis: One sausage (Rogen) and his bun lover (Wiig) venture into the great unknown of the Supermarket where they reside. They slowly learn that the ‘Gods’ they worship re Humans may not be the Heavenly saviours at all. But rather horrific monsters that actually EAT them instead.
Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg (writers and directors of This is the End and Superbad) have somehow performed a miracle. These two, champions of the crass mixed in with the heartfelt, have managed to get Sony to animate and release one of the rudest, craziest and funniest cartoons in years. It’s as if Sony were told the basic synopsis, food has consciousness and seeks to discover the meaning of life, and then left the animators to it. How else can such scenes of depravity and sheer utter insanity have made it to the screen? I for one am not complaining, because somewhere in all of this innuendo and profanity lies a intelligent look at some deep philosophical issues.
Right from the off we are dropped into this world and into the minds of pretty full on religious zealots. You see the food in this tale treat us as Gods. Beings who after selecting their chosen food take them to the elusive ‘Great Beyond’. This is captured in an opening song of almost overwhelming detail. We are flung around the supermarket and introduced to the different collections of food in a flurry of quick edits and spinning cameras. It is perhaps a little much for an opening scene, instead of easing us in to this crazy world we have to strain to catch up. After we meet our central heroes another flaw hovers into view, the juvenile nature of the dialogue. A barrage of ‘fucks’ and quickfire sexual anecdotes punctuates almost every scene. I was beginning to think this film wasn’t clever, just childish. “Look it’s a cartoon and they talk like horny teenagers!!”
Fortunately once the thin plot kicks into gear and Rogen’s Frank alongside Wiig’s Brenda find themselves lost in the bowels of the Supermarket the rudeness gives way to some surprisingly perceptive thoughts on the nature of belief and religious fundamentalism. Don’t get me wrong the cussing and rudeness are still there but even these aspects become focused and smarter. It is in this satirical look at religion that the film thrives though. Frank’s unwillingness to simply believe in the ‘truth’ and Brenda’s insistent unwavering faith brings friction between the loving twosome. The addition of Norton’s hilarious Jewish bagel and David Krumholtz as a middle Eastern Lavash to their party hones in even more detail the brilliant subversiveness. These may be quite uncomfortable stereotypes, but the message of trying to overcome religious divides and find common cause is a ridiculously hopeful and moving goal on the writers’ part. Some may be blinded by all the talk of sticking meat in holes and Salma Hayek’s brilliant lesbian Taco, but if you look past all that the film rivals South Park in its marriage of crude and intelligence.
Saying much more will ruin some of the hugely unexpected surprises but I can’t leave without mentioning the insane third act. A massive action scene with excessive violence and surprising detail (the animation is rough at times but only further adds to the anarchic tone of the piece) gives way to an orgy of such a graphic nature that I was shell-shocked in what I was seeing. If I wasn’t laughing so damn much I would say it was all a little much, but by this point I think the film earns its moment of release. In some ways this was always going to be the end point in a film from the guys who did Superbad.
Some aspects don’t work. A film with this many gags there are always inevitable hit and miss moments, and this is no exception. The central sorta villain of the piece, a long forgotten Douche played by Nick Kroll, suffers from too much screen time and not many laughs. Plus I wonder how many in the younger part of the audience will even know what a Douche is? And I’m sure there are many who will struggle to get past the overwhelming crassness to understand what the film is really trying to say.
These are all relatively minor issues in a film that sucks you in with just how brazen, energetic and gosh darn hilarious it is. Whether this was just a one-off fluke that something like Sausage Party managed to even get made I think we all need to be thankful that it exists, and that unique voices such as Rogen and Goldberg are allowed to have free rein. The film does end with a tantalising and clever hint at more to come, although knowing what sort of dirty beast Sony have unleashed they may have second thoughts (the big $ it has made so far may change that), and I for one would most like to be invited to another celebration of all things Sausage!
Verdict: Witty, fast paced, unutterably sleazy, and just plain hilarious. Somehow managing to sneak in pointed looks at religious fundamentalism within all the cock jokes, this is a film to celebrate. Suffice to say you’ll never look at food the same way again.