And now for a film that goes completely bananas…literally AND figuratively.
Man it must be awesome to get high and be pair millions of dollars to write whatever comes to you in your drug-induced state. Not jealous…okay that’s a fucking lie, I’m EXTREMELY jealous; but the first sentence does explain how the hell you’d come up with a movie about talking food screaming and cursing in agony as it’s cooked and eaten alive. And perhaps a dash of bath salts would help to also make this insane premise an “Allegory of the Cave” kind of tale that’s the biggest fuck off to religion since Religulous. But unlike Bill Maher’s intellectual masturbation session, Sausage Party manages to have a bit more to say.
So you have a sausage named Frank (Seth Rogen) who lives in a supermarket while keeping inside his packaging alongside other weiners played by Michael Cera and Jonah Hill. Frank, his friends, and every food item in the supermarket want nothing more than to be selected by a god (human customer) to leave the supermarket and enter “The Great Beyond.” Hell they sing a song at the beginning to illustrate how desperate they are to be selected and how nothing could possibly go wrong (actual line). But an item that returned from the Great Beyond lets Frank know that the whole religion is a bold face lie and, through a series of mishaps gets himself and his girlfriend, a hot dog bun played Kristen Wiig, out of their packages and stranded in the middle of the store. Meanwhile, Frank’s friends learn the truth of their existence first hand…
Got to say, the movie is a total stoner premise, that becomes more solidified in the first third of the film with rampant cursing, sex jokes, and full-on graphic cartoon violence (more on that in a bit). I was initially thinking if THIS was all the film had, then I’d just enjoy it as a mere RENTAL; but then the film goes into interesting directions with various characters that reflect immediate disgust with religious beliefs, strongly held beliefs in the afterlife that affect sexual relationships, racism, and the Iraeli-Palestinian conflict and…yes I’m still talking about a cartoon movie with food that has googly eyes, gloves, and shoes. It’s one of the film’s biggest strengths, but it will likely turn some people off.
Look, the race humor is laid out THICK. Joining Frank on his journey is a very stereotypical-Jewish bagel named Sammy Bagel, Jr. (played by Edward Norton) and David Krumholtz as Kareem Abdul Lavash…a very Palestinian-sounding lavash. Does the lavash talk about being drenched in 77 virgin oils? You bet. Does Bagel talk about his kosher brethren being forced out of his original home by sauerkraut (dressed like Nazis, who also seek the extermination of the “Juice”)? Fuck yeah. And it gets more absurd from there with Salma Hayek as Teresa del Taco…a lesbian taco. The stereotypical caricatures are so bold in “not giving a fuck” that I kind of have to respect the movie.
It helps that the blatant racism has a point…kind of. I get it if some people are not going to like it, but the racial divisions among the various food types is meant to illustrate just how absurd it is that all these foods are talking about how the look, talk, act, and associated historical baggage. You know, pretty much illustrative of how real racism and prejudice are absolutely absurd and preposterous concepts. Nonetheless, someone is going to find something offensive on display here; but since everyone is a target, it becomes less worrisome and more interesting to see what boundary then film will cross next. And that next boundary comes in the form of unrelenting horrific violence.
Without exaggeration, this is probably one of the most violent animated films of all time, right there next to Akira and Watership Down. When the food are being eaten or chopped into pieces, they scream in profanity-laden agony as potatoes skins are shaved off, tomatoes are chopped in half, baby carrots (sounding like children) get eaten, or a banana’s face peels off to reveal a hollowed out skeleton underneath. The grand finale of this mayhem ramps up the horror to such frankly insane levels, that I was left in awe of how awful and amazing it looked. And I haven’t even brushed on the sex in the movie, but for fear of spoiling…I’ll leave you to discover that for yourself. If you’re wondering how food having sex with each other works, use your imagination. For that alone, I’m recommending people to see this movie; because I guarantee you have not see something this fucking bizarre.
Thankfully, the visuals alone are not the only strengths this film has (however, I do still say its shitty that several animators were not reimbursed for overtime or were properly credited). The film boasts an impressive cast of actors actually giving a shit about their vocal performances (all the goddamn shade in the world to you, Kevin Spacey). Seth Rogen as Frank is basically Seth Rogen in any comedy he’s in (read: straight man that’s not afraid to make fun of himself), but he conveys an interesting arc for a character to go through to escape the usual cliche pitfalls of main characters in “Allegory of the Cave” storytelling (see: The Matrix, Dark City, and the bizarre Jupiter Ascending). Kristen Wiig, fresh off of Ghostbusters, plays an intriguing love interest to Frank since she primarily rejects Frank’s questions about The Great Beyond and comes across as a relatable and definitely realistic person who has blind faith. She conveys people that I’ve met personally in my own life better than most actresses in similar predicaments, and Wiig was voicing a freaking hot dog bun who has to fend off Salma Hayek’s advances.
But the other big standout from the cast for me would have to be Nick Kroll. Now you may be familiar with this guy from various comedies, but he’s mostly known for his role as Ruxin on The League. And now that I have you thinking about him, you may also begin to think he plays nothing but douchebags in his films. Welp, here plays a LITERAL douchebag called…Douche. Bringing on a thick Jersey Shore accent, he serves as the de facto antagonist seeking to destroy Frank and his friends for ruining shot at The Great Beyond. Kroll revels in the absolute douchebaggery of his character so well, that I have to dedicate an entire paragraph to him alone, and that’s not even discussing his character’s psychotic actions throughout the film that make him a legitimately scary threat.
The rest of this big ass cast does exceptionally well to boot. From Edward Norton to Salma Hayek to Paul Rudd to Danny McBride to Craig Robinson and the other Rogen-Apatow mainstays, every one gives a solid performance that sometimes makes you wonder who is who. I couldn’t figure out who Bill Hader played as until the end, but of course he played one of the film’s many racist stereotypes as a Native-American-accented bottle of whiskey called Firewater.
The humor may not be for everyone, and the film definitely relies on shock value more than other films of its ilk. That being said, as someone who watches tons of raunchy comedies that claim to “push the envelope,” this is a film that actually accomplishes the task of being so out there that it crosses the line of the extremes and keeps going to the furthest stars of poor taste. Plus, I freaking laughed and I laughed hard. This is a movie that easily got me laughing more frequently than any other film this year, be it intentional or otherwise.
To boot, this film is a comedy with a point. While I still think Zootopia is the still the best animated flick of the year (that also handled a mature subject with confidence), Sausage Party weaves an interesting story that should be seen by all. It may not make you question your faith, but maybe it’ll help you realize being an asshole about it (whether you believe in God or not) won’t help anyone. It also helps that when it finishes, it does so in such a mind-fucking insane way that it’s still probing the fringes of my mind two days after I had seen it. So without further ado, giving this a very strong…