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Review: Sausage Party

Perhaps the most surprising film of the summer, Sausage Party opens with an Alan Menken song, of all things (!), and though it’s not his most memorable one, it helps set the tone for a deep and probing film.

The hook is along the lines of “what if food had feelings” but Sausage Party seems to instead be an attempt to topple over quite a few sacred cows. This film is set at Shopwell’s, and is, of course, animated. The film initially seems to be along the lines of Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen’s previous efforts, (lowest common denominator humour, and a strong start marred by a weak ending). Though Sausage Party feels episodic, with some very high peaks mingled with low valleys, the film as a whole feels quite fresh in an attempt to break the mold on traditionally “safe” comedies, which although they aim to push the envelope, instead try to tear it open. This effort is almost freer within the animation to create a more subtle product, which is tough to say in a film that concludes with a massive and graphic orgy of foodstuffs.

The plot, as it were, concerns Frank (Seth Rogen), a hot dog that seeks to break out of his package and slide into the bun of his girlfriend Brenda (Kristen Wiig, here after the success of her other Sony film, Ghostbusters). They are both left existentially confounded by Honey Mustard (Danny McBride), a character that seems to be without a name. He is returned to Shopwell’s after entering The Great Beyond, (essentially, exploring the notion that human beings are gods and that the manifest destiny of products is to be purchased by humans). Honey Mustard espouses the awful proof that products are meant to be consumed, sending Shopwell’s into a frenzy, and this frenzy is when the film is at its strongest. A road trip involving a stoner burnout (James Franco, natch) and a misshapen hot dog named Barry (Michael Cera) goes on for far too long.

Many of the jokes in Sausage Party hit hard, but the film as a whole suffers from repetition, (as if the first time was so strong, that a repeat is necessary). A taco (Salma Hayek), a villainous douche that is yes, an actual douche (Nick Kroll), and Firewater (Bill Hader) all feel like the same joke, (funny at first, then less so). A better bit involves a bagel (Edward Norton) and a lavash (David Krumholtz) which threatens to fall into cliche actually works very well. Obviously, to appreciate the movie fully, sensibilities must be checked at the door.

Of course, Sausage Party is not for everyone (and certainly not for children), but this lack of understanding of its subtleties, (again, this is a film in which foodstuffs have sex with each other) makes the philosophical, atheistic, and comedic bits all the more topical and timely. This isn’t the film we want, it’s the film we need.

[star v=3]