You want to know what shattered my innocent image of cartoons when I was young?
It was an anthropomorphic figure that introduced me to the gaudy and profane neighborhood of adult cartoons, effectively intermingling my Ed, Edd N Eddy’s with the children of South Park. This figure was a controversial and hedonistic feline named Fritz the Cat, with his self-titled 1972 animated film sending rippling shockwaves throughout my adolescence. This perverted cat ushered my interest into other “grown up” cartoons, leading me into the hilariously twisted world of Adult Swim and intimidating binges of almost every episode of American Dad, The Simpsons and Futurama. However, outside of 1999’s South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut and 2004’s Team America, both helmed by comedic auteurs Trey Parker and Matt Stone, there hasn’t been a major R-rated animated movie to hit the public – until now.
Sausage Party – which sounds like the title of an inter-dimensional episode of Rick & Morty – sent the public in a frenzy when word of a rough cut was released at South by Southwest (SXSW), and further shocked the world when its outrageous red band trailer released. All hype and garnered controversy that come with a movie featuring cussing food aside, is Sausage Party a one-trick pony? Can it live beyond simple food puns and being senselessly ‘edgy’, or will it become just another blip on the radar of 2016’s dreadful summer flicks?
Sausage Party is the tale of various groceries dreaming of one day leaving their home – supermarket Shopwell’s – journeying to an imagined paradise, a “great beyond”, with the customers of the store. However, the shocking truth of what happens once the groceries go home with humans is learned, sending the supermarket’s living produce into a tailspin and in the process, causing the groceries to join forces against their former gods. This movie is the first R-rated 3D animated movie, a tremendous effort that required two directors, Greg Tiernan and Conrad Vernon, four writers headlined by comedic duo Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, as well as an all-star cast of heavyweight actors to bring the amalgamation of every hungry stoner’s worst nightmare to life.
Between an incredibly awkward orgy involving a sausage, taco and a bagel, and the blood curdling screams of a potato as it is boiled alive, Sausage Party never once takes it’s foot off the gas. Just five minutes into the film’s runtime, the expletives and innuendo start flying, setting the benchmark platform for the absurdity of the next hour and a half – one that only seems to increase as it goes on. This is a movie that knows what it is and never balks at its status as such, easily outpacing every self-proclaimed raunchy adult comedy that has come out this summer when it comes to offensiveness and pushing of the proverbial envelope. At a glance, its visually a spoof of the Pixar and Disney animated fare that audiences are used to, which the exaggerated and low-grade animation points towards, leaving off the over produced polish that most animation studios would add. The way that the groceries flair and whip around screen help keep levity and humor in check throughout the runtime. Speaking of groceries, every one of them falls into a subset of a stereotype which aims at every race, religion, creed, sexuality and so on. Trust me when I say that not one culture leaves unscathed from this movie’s comedic edge, which, if you’re used to episodes of Family Guy or American Dad, won’t really bother you and will bring you plenty of laughter.
Sausage Party aimed to be equal parts filthy and zany and it hit its mark, introducing a whole other NSFL interpretation of the words “food porn”, while also existing as one of the most head-shaking and raunchy movies of the year.
The cast is really a highlight here, blanketed by a wave of chemistry between every actor. Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill and Michael Cera all play sausages to hilarious effect, with Kristen Wiig playing Rogen’s love interest, a hot dog bun. The rest of the movie is stacked with the usual Rogen/Goldberg players, with James Franco playing a human drug addict, Danny McBride as a bottle of honey mustard and Craig Robinson as a box of grits. Other standout additions to the film’s already stacked roster include Edward Norton, who voices a bagel that constantly fights with a lavash, played by David Krumholtz, as well as Salma Hayek’s lesbian taco character. It seems as if every contributing actor in this movie knew exactly how ridiculous the concept was and exulted in the complete lunacy of its premise (I mean, come on, the film’s antagonist is a literal douche), making extra effort to ensure their cranked-up performances stay as consistently energetic and charming as possible throughout.
For a movie about a sausage discovering everything he knew to be a lie, Sausage Party actually conjures social commentary pretty effectively, if not extremely on the nose. As a positive, the movie goes beyond what could be a shallow romp with talking food and boldly takes the steps to bring religious debate and intolerance to the forefront of its story – hilariously highlighted by the food’s betrayal by their Gods, which are just regular people at the supermarket, and their subsequent demise that brings a twisted humor to the movie. What appears to be in our eyes a simple bag of flour falling to the ground, or a regular bite of pizza, is actually a brutal, visceral death to these characters, with some of the gory scenes feeling like wince-inducing meshes of Saving Private Ryan, Saw, and The Green Inferno. Deliberately vulgar and drenched with dozens of extremely inappropriate moments involving the produce at your local supermarket, Sausage Party aimed to be equal parts filthy and zany and it hit its mark, introducing a whole other NSFL interpretation of the words “food porn”, while also existing as one of the most head-shaking and raunchy movies of the year.
However, while Sausage Party lovingly wears it immaturity and sophomoric charm on its sleeve, it never really seems to do anything past this, becoming a garbled mix of an underlying comment on atheism and off-the-rails nonsense. As far as the film’s story and progression is concerned, after the veil of animated insanity is pulled back, it appears to be nothing more than a basic Family Guy episode; there’s no nuance or tightness to the writing, which is disappointing considering other Rogen/Goldberg films (specifically This Is The End), easily go beyond the bare bones of their skeletal, shallow concepts and explore new and exciting avenues. By the film’s second act, Sausage Party feels like it’s throwing every cheap crude joke, pun or quip it has at its disposal at the screen, and while some land, most fall flat because you can see them coming a mile away. As the movie plods on, the laughs fade to shock and repulsion, turning a comedic film into more or less a series of dirty vignettes you’d show your friend on Funny or Die.
Sausage Party, with all the attention it’s getting, may serve as a pioneer of adult animation, due its boundary-breaking pushing of the genre’s envelope that we haven’t seen in mainstream cinema since Team America. There will more likely than not be a surge of adult animation aiming to be more vulgar and more crude in the future – perhaps the same way Fritz the Cat opened the door for adult cartoons for me, Sausage Party may do the same for the next generation. However, right now Sausage Party is a wildly fun romp, a film that’s the equivalent to a drunken night of memories you’d rather not remember, but contently reminisce on the fact that they happened anyway.
What do you think? Do you agree with our thoughts and the score we’ve given? Let us know in the comments below!