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Sausage Party (2016) Review

"There is a lot of fun in store with Sausage Party"

by Steve Pulaski

Sausage Party has all the memorable, fun qualities of a Seth Rogen/Evan Goldberg-run film, in addition to all the setbacks and annoyances. For one, the film is brimful with charisma and energy; rarely does a five minute period of the film go by without some strong humor or subtle side-jokes that turn an already short eighty-eight minutes into a briskly paced, breathless romp of animated fun. But on the other hand, there is the same mistaken idea that inherent and pervasive vulgarity already equals comedy, and when a jar of honey mustard is explaining how all the food items in the grocery store have been lied to using a graphic masturbation analogy, one begins to realize that, through everything, this film still tries to take the easy way out.

Where to begin? The film takes place in a supermarket, where thousands upon thousands of food items eagerly hop up and down on the shelves waiting for "the gods" (humans) to pick them up, put them in their shopping carts, take them home, and cherish them. They refer to the automatic, sliding entry doors as the gateway to "the beyond," while some food items eagerly await to be matched with their partners. Consider Frank (voiced by Seth Rogen), a hot dog who wants to be united with his girlfriend Brenda (Kristen Wiig), a beautiful hot dog bun. The two have been gawking over one another amidst their packages, with snarky comments being tossed around by fellow hot dogs and buns in the same respective packages forever now, and with the Fourth of July coming up soon, both Frank and Brenda hope both of their packages will be chosen by the same person.

Sausage Party
Directed by Greg Tiernan, Conrad Vernon
Cast Seth Rogen, Kristen Wiig, Jonah Hill
Release Date 3 June 2016
Steve's Grade: B

When a woman comes by and picks up both of the lucky packages of hot dogs and buns, it would seem as if fate brought Frank and Brenda together, until chaos unfolds when a jar of honey mustard informs them that "the beyond" is actually a frightening and deceptive place where food goes to be maimed and slaughtered (prepared and cooked). An accident leads to both Frank and Brenda being displaced from their packages and left to their own devices to get back to their respective aisles in hopes to sneak into another package as if nothing happened. They team up with Kareem Abdul Lavash (David Krumholtz), a lavash, and Sammy Bagel, Jr. (Edward Norton who sounds eerily similar to Woody Allen), an aptly named bagel, in hopes of navigating the supermarket. In the meantime, one of Frank's hot dog friends who came in the same package, Carl (Jonah Hill), who is self-conscious about his stunted, deformed nature, escapes certain a horrific death in order to try and find Frank himself.

And there is also a literal douche (Nick Kroll), who is chasing after Frank and Brenda after losing his chance to be the go-to hygiene tool of the same gorgeous woman who picked up both the hot dogs and buns. When his juice begins to leak out, he becomes fueled by a broken juice-box, then tequila, then vodka.

As brainless as all of this sounds, there's a sweet method to Sausage Party's madness and its method revolves around addressing the ideas of blind faith and religion in a humorous way only Rogen and company could paste together. The idea is simple - the food items have been lead to believe - thanks to a lie from a certain bottle of Native American liquor - that "the beyond" is a sacred, desired place run by "the gods," contrary to what used to be normative, which were foods frightened and petrified of being "taken away." When Frank finally learns the secret, he wants to tell everyone, but everyone is so caught up in their own beliefs and long-held misconceptions that they do not want to believe him, even if what he's saying is backed up by evidence; they've lived their life in complete and total devotion to that mindset that abandoning it now, even in the face of logic, means they lose something they've clung on to for so long that has given them comfort.

Sausage Party throws that element of surprise at the audiences in an unexpected way, especially amidst a series of relentless toilet and stoner jokes and the coarsest of language. Much of the film is very funny and very well-structured, with a biting sense of urgency gnawing at the characters and the plot like people at a Fourth of July cookout. The consistency in humor and entertainment in the film transfers well from other similar projects, like This is the End, and rebounds nicely from the lackluster qualities of The Interview.

As stated, the only real drawback is the obsession Rogen and company have with their constant desire to push the envelope, which doesn't come at the expense of others but at the expense of the plot and the humor. Various scenes exist just so they can include copious, almost insulting amounts of profanity; I'd argue that the barrage of food puns here, sexual and non-sexual, were far funnier largely because they evoked wit rather than a prepubescent obsession with cramming as many four-letter words as you possibly can in one sentence. Nonetheless, there is a lot of fun in store with Sausage Party thanks to its novel and delicious brand of humor and subtext.

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