I’m of the school of thought that thinks you are never too old to watch cartoons or animated films, especially when the subject matter skews to the adult. If Sausage Party is one thing, it is definitely that. It also happens to be the most fun I’ve had with food since I was a child recreating the extinction of the dinosaurs with dino-shaped nuggets, my mouth, and a giant pool of ketchup.
Sausage Party plays on our Toy Story sentimentality and replaces our childhood whimsy with hormone-raging, teenage hedonism. It’s repulsive, hilarious, infuriating and downright bizarre. It is both clever in its approach and derivative in its execution. The sheer wide-scale ridiculous nature of the film is meant to entertain while presenting real world issues in an oversimplified light. It works best when it pokes fun at the Israeli/Palestinian conflict and when it completely challenges several core religious ideologies. In that way, it serves a purpose as a conscious social commentary challenging the idea of faith and instead turns everything into a bacchanalian orgy.
Watching the film, you notice that its animation is a blend of simplistic design, but done with a fluid complexity that makes you forget how rudimentary the animation feels. This film feels undeniably like the love child of Thomas the Tank Engine film series director Greg Tiernan and Dreamworks director Conrad Vernon. Each has a strength they bring to the film. Tiernan has experience bringing to life the friendship and more endearing moments in a film while Vernon has experience with an energetic pace and dealing with innuendo. Together they bring to life this world where even vegans would fear to tread, but they couldn’t have done it without help.
Any animated film would be nothing without a great cast of voice actors behind it to bring to life every scene through the characters. This isn’t my first Rogen rodeo, so identifying most of the voices is a simple and fun task. We hear regulars like Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill, James Franco, Michael Cera, Danny McBride, and Craig Robinson. Then we have comedians like Kristen Wiig, Bill Hader and Nick Kroll with other recognizable actors like Salma Hayek, Paul Rudd and Edward Norton joining the fold. Some play the characters they always do, which is just some sort of extension of their true personality, while some of the other actors are used to voice food equivalent stereotypes of their ethnic backgrounds, like Craig Robinson voicing a box of grits. Their complete commitment to their roles, as offensive as they are, give this film life in a way that makes you wonder that if they can have fun with these hyperbolic racial caricatures, then we should be able to laugh with them.
Like the cast, the writing team consists of past writers for various Rogen and company films spanning from Superbad all the way to Neighbors 2. Veteran writers Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg add their undeniable voice to the film delivering familiar, but still efficient jokes and gags through a previously unexplored medium. So to answer your question: Yes, there is an abundant use of marijuana in the film. No, there is no topic considered too sacred to be targeted by this film. As predicted, their comedic irreverence utilizes race, gender, sexual orientation, and race-related politics. What does all of this translate to? Weiners who can’t wait to sexually go inside of buns, a Jewish bagel constantly bickering with a Mediterranean lavash, and a Salma Hayek-voiced taco shell who is meant to embody the colloquialism for a lesbian: “taco-muncher.”
Beyond the film’s crunchy, outer shell is a film that openly accepts just how bombastic it is and takes it one step forward to openly embrace it. It is meant to be a stereotypical caricature mimicking the sometimes not so subtle racism or sexism in some of our beloved animated classics. I’m talking about classics like Dumbo, Aladdin, The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, etc. Each had glaring racist, sexist or just completely problematic overtones; so sausage party plays up that fact and increases the obvious offensive nature. In that way, the film is a parody of every childhood film we grew up watching, including some of those that are still being made today. It succeeds in all of its attempts, even if we’ve seen this same group of people perform the same jokes in their live action films.
The new avenue of animation opens up a world of opportunities and Sausage Party takes advantage of every one of them. Having been a teenage boy at one point in my life, I can understand the appeal of the low brow humor, but as an adult, I can appreciate how it is interwoven with a strong, social message. Sausage Party has had a profound influence on me, especially in the film’s final climax (and I emphasize “climax”), but I’m still trying to figure out if that is a good thing.
Rating: ★★★★★★ (6/10 stars)