Sorry, DEADPOOL, you’re going to have to return your 2016 bad boy award. SAUSAGE PARTY is even filthier, more anarchic and childish, but actually turns out to be about a bit more as well. That’s not a slight on Deadpool, by the way – it’s irreverence is a big part of its charm – but it’s good to have a comedy that is both crass and immature but sporadically thoughtful.
Frank (Seth Rogen) has a dream. As a sausage living in a multipack in a supermarket, all he wants is to be chosen by his Gods and taken, along with his betrothed bun Brenda (Kristen Wiig) to the promised land. There’s just one problem: the food has been lied to, and nothing awaits them beyond their vacuum-packed world but pain and suffering. Someone has to make a stand and Frank, faith or no faith, is the sausage to do it.
The jokes in Sausage Party may not all be sophisticated but they come thick and fast and have a high hit-rate. From a Hitler sour kraut screaming “Kill the juice!” to a lost Barry (Michael Cera) mistaking something lying in the street for a fellow lost sausage (it isn’t) and more innuendo per minute than CARRY ON, the film made me laugh more than any other has this year. There are some killer spoof scenes as well, from a horrific SAVING PRIVATE RYAN-riffing scene (where Mr PB tries to put back together his shattered wife Mrs J) and a take on the famously awful slo-mo blue sex scene from TOP GUN complete with backing music (“I don’t know how I’m meant to feel watching that…” an onlooker says).
The final filthy set piece of the film makes TEAM AMERICA look positively conservative by comparison. It’s similar subject matter-wise to the most infamous scene in that film, but on a much larger scale. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such an end of the film celebration featuring this much canoodling outside of SHORTBUS, and that could arguably be called softcore pornography in addition to a great human drama.
Sausage Party does have a stab at discussing several real-world issues pretty sharply. From religion, both questioning faith vs rational thought and religious conflict (with a bickering Muslim flatbread and a Jewish bagel played by David Krumholtz and Edward Norton respectively as stand-ins for troubles in the Gaza Strip) to sexuality and fate. It doesn’t mock people for their beliefs – in fact by the end Frank seems to wish that he could still believe because he was much happier with religion – but it does ask people to consider all options, rational or religious. That’ll go down well in conservative parts of the USA I’m sure.
I can’t say every gag landed for me and the un-foody form the film’s main villain (Nick Kroll) takes. Though in-keeping with the crude nature of the rest of the film, this conception of this antagonist pushed it a little over the edge for me, and gave it a pretty nasty, bordering on lazy misogynist tone whenever he appeared.
For something that probably started out with Seth Rogen getting his mates together and asking “I wonder if we could get away with this?”, Sausage Party is a pretty miraculous final product. The characters work, most of the jokes destroyed me and we’re left with some interesting possiblities should a sequel come around. It might be immature and not the biggest or most expensive animation out there, but this very adult cartoon can be pretty clever as well and it should go down well with Rogen’s usual audience too. SSP