Sausage Party Review

Posted: August 28, 2016 by Daniel Simpson (PG Cooper) in PG Cooper's Movie Reviews

sausage_party_ver2Written by Daniel “PG Cooper” Simpson

R-rated animated comedies are not exactly unheard of and there is a ton of animated content for adults on television, but it’s still somewhat rare to see millions of dollars invested into an animated comedy which is completely aimed at adults. That alone helps Sausage Party stand out from the annual crop of raunchy comedies, but the film is further set apart from other R-rated animated comedies by the fact that the film is deliberately emulating the Pixar model, wherein a group of inanimate objects/animals/feelings are personified and their setting is translated to a world which somewhat resembles are own. The film’s trailer plays into this, with the fact that’s actually a film for adults being something of a twist. It would be easy to see this trailer and awesome Sausage Party be nothing more than an R-rated spoof of Pixar films, but there’s actually much more going on here.

The film takes place primarily in a grocery store called Shopwell’s where all of the food items are personified, though they’re talking and walking around goes unnoticed by the human characters. These food items believe the various shoppers are Gods who take them to “The Great Beyond”, an act the food look to with tremendous excitement. The sausage Frank (Seth Rogen) is even more excited as it means you can finally enter his girlfriend; the hotdog bun Brenda (Kirsten Wig). One fateful day, both Frank and Brenda’s packages are chosen by the same woman. However an accident prevents Frank and Brenda from joining their packages in “The Great Beyond”, and in fact sets Frank on a path of learning that everything he’s been brought up to believe could be false.

In truth, Sausage Party feels less like a parody of Pixar and more like a film just following their formula. In fact it isn’t too hard to imagine a Pixar version of this premise. Like the Toy Story films, Sausage Party personifies inanimate objects and places them in a somewhat grounded world which gradually becomes more ridiculous as the film goes on, eventually leading to a sort of action climax. There isn’t much effort to in fact to spoof Pixar. Sausage Party is actually interested in a far more heavy topic; religion. This isn’t really apparent in the trailers, but Sausage Party is very much an exploration, and even something of an attack, on religious belief. The film observes the way religion is used as a means of social control, how people often cling to their beliefs when faced with challenging evidence rather than questioning them, and how groups have historically twisted religious doctrine in order to fit their own ideological beliefs. This is a lot more ambitious than I expected from a film whose title is a pun on dicks but the execution is surprisingly smart and bold.

This examination of religion is not very subtle, in fact characters discuss the core themes pretty openly, but for a broad comedy like this that’s okay. What’s more is that, as a comedy, this film works very well. For the most part, I laughed a lot from start to finish. The humour stems from the witty crudeness, visual food gags and puns, and some genuinely funny references. The last twenty minutes in particular are like an explosion of comedy, with tons of big gags, profanity laced lines, and outrageous visual comedy. I also think there’s some inherent humour in seeing such a silly concept used to explore such lofty ideas. I mean, the film is about a talking sausage questioning his faith; that in itself is pretty funny. Granted, the humour here isn’t exactly perfect. At times, the film does fall back on crudeness for its own sake with nothing else really going on within the moment. This is particularly frustrating considering the film’s intellectual ambitons. There is also a largely distasteful gag with some rapey vibes. I’m not one to immediately dismiss a joke for dwelling on something dark or horrible, but this scene was really unfunny and just made me uncomfortable. I wish it were executed differently.

Sausage Party is a much smarter film than I expected it to be and it also made me laugh a whole heck of a lot. It’s a film that makes strong use of the typical Seth Rogen character and the nature of voice work allows the rest of the cast to do some really interesting and surprising stuff. And yet in spite of all that, I can’t endorse the film quite as much as I would like to. It’s just a little too inconsistent, and some of its stumbles are noticeable enough that they do really start to detract from the whole. In spite of those flaws though, Sausage Party still comes through as one of the better films to come out this summer and it’s well worth a look for those who can handle a lot of vulgarity.

B+

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