August 20, 2016
Seth Rogen, the writer behind Superbad and Pineapple Express, among other stoner cinemas has turned to animation in his latest movie. Sausage Party is a raunchy, crude and, at times, hilarious shock-comedy for adults.
Bringing to life the produce section, and all 20-something aisles of your local grocery store,Sausage Party is set in a world in which food items are alive, self-aware and relish (pun intended) in profanity and sexual innuendos.
The food items believe their great destiny lies in being picked off the shelf by shoppers, taken to their homes and to salvation. As the main character, Frank (a sausage voiced by Seth Rogen) called it, “the Great Beyond.”
After Rogen’s character discovers the ugly truth about what looms on the horizon, past the check-out conveyer, the other food items call him a crazy heretic, instead opt to believe in their comforting concoction.
Sausage Party’s overarching plot is Rogen’s attempt at allegorizing organized religion, and framing its followers as brainwashed buffoons. If you happen to be a stoned Richard Dawkins with a quarter of the IQ, the plot is perfect for you.
That’s not to say the film is bereft of laughs. Far from it.
The film’s characters are diverse and hilarious. Each written in accordance to its ethnic origin.
Just to name a few, there’s a Mexican taco, an Arab lavash wrap and a neurotic, Woody Allen-esque bagel as a Jew.
These satirized, stereotypical characters make up some of the funniest scenes throughout the film. As one example, the Arabic lavash and Jewish bagel constantly go back and forth, arguing over who’s right it is to control the West Aisle of the grocery store.
Needless to say, Sausage Party is an equal opportunity offender. Putting textbook ethnic stereotypes at play, Seth Rogen and the rest of the cast didn’t shy away from alarming the leftist PC-brigade. (How else would the writers at Salon keep their jobs?)
The weakest aspect of Rogen’s film, however, is that all the jokes are essentially stand-alone gags, and contribute little to the actual plot.
It’s as if everyone in the writer’s room individually spouted off, “Hey, wouldn’t it be funny if thishappened?” and “Oh yeah totally, and what about this? I’m so stoned right now, man.” All of which was then meshed together and layered on top an otherwise bland storyline.
Animated hot dogs, buns and douches (yup a live, talking women’s hygiene product) dropping f-bombs with Joe Pesci frequency is a novelty that soon wears thin.
Animated films don’t necessarily need to feature profane paroxysms in every sentence, in-your-face innuendos or animated orgies (this isn’t a spoiler, as much as it’s a warning) to be funny or appeal to adults. Comedies ought to rely on story-telling to create memorable experiences for movie patrons, rather than bombarding them with blunt jokes. Relying on shock humor for laughs isn’t bold or imaginative, it’s just lazy writing.
I’ve seen Shrek — a PG animated film — about a dozen times, and can confidently say its use of far cleverer humor and better crafted plot make it a much funnier and more memorable film (even for older audiences) than the crass and vulgar time-murder that was Sausage Party.
In the end, Sausage Party doesn’t chart any new territory. South Park has been doing adult animation for decades now and has a much better handle on it.
So, if you’re with friends, you’re bound to have a few good laughs in Seth Rogen’s latest. But walking out of the theatre, the only thing running through your mind will be, “Did I just watch an animated food orgy?” Can’t say I didn’t warn you.