Reviewed by GREG KING
Directors: Greg Tiernan, Conrad Vernon
Stars: voices of: Seth Rogen, Kristen Wiig, Salma Hayek, Michael Cera, Danny McBride, Edward Norton, Paul Rudd, Craig Robinson, Nick Kroll, David Krumholtz, James Franco, Anders Holm, Jonah Hill.
The secret life of food?
This animated film is the antithesis of more family friendly fare such as usual offerings from the Disney/Pixar canon like Toy Story, etc. This is decidedly adults only entertainment pushes envelope and the limits of taste, with plenty of foul language and sexual innuendo that would make South Park: Bigger Longer And Uncut blush. Sausage Party is replete with sexual references and drug references, and it contains more F-bombs than your average Quentin Tarantino film. But then what would you expect from a film written by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, the pair that gave us such gross out stoner comedies as Pineapple Express, Superbad and This Is The End.
Sausage Party is set in Shopwell, a supermarket where all the sex obsessed food stuff and grocery items are given human qualities and come alive after the store closes. Each packaged good aspires to be taken from the shelves by a customer, whom they consider Gods, and taken to what they refer to as “the Great Beyond”, a place where they will have freedom and bliss.
But the reality as they discover is something far darker as they will be sliced and diced, boiled and cooked and eaten. This hideous truth is revealed to them by a jar of Honey Mustard (voiced by Danny McBride), which is returned to the store and seems to be suffering from PTSD. He tells the others what really happens to them when they leave the store. At first noone believes this horror story.
But fellow hot dog Barry (voiced by Michael Cera) manages to escape from a dinner party massacre and tries to make his way back to Shopwell and safety. He is a timid outcast who discovers his own inner reserves of strength and courage during a journey fraught with danger.
Meanwhile back in Shopwell anarchy has broken out and the once orderly supermarket shelves are thrown into disarray. Frank (voiced by Seth Rogen) is a vaguely phallic looking hot dog who is in love with Brenda (Kristen Wiig), a hot dog bun. Both desire to be together. Frank, Brenda and Teresa (Salma Hayek), a lesbian taco, wander the supermarket looking for a way out. They are being pursued by a homicidal douche (voiced by Nick Kroll) who is looking for revenge.
Rogen and his collaborators have roped in many of his mates to voice the various characters; as well as Cera, McBride, James Franco, Jonah Hill, and Craig Robinson, we also get Bill Hader as the mystical drink Firewater; Paul Rudd who voices the role of Darren, the store’s surly manager; and Edward Norton, who brings a strong streak of Jewish humour to his role as Sammy the Bagel.
There is also some wonderful racial stereotyping with some of the food stuffs here – we get a lavash, an Arab flat bread, (voiced by David Krumholtz) and a very Jewish bagel (Norton), who bring an odd couple like dynamic to the material as they argue and debate theology. There is also a wonderful Stephen Hawking-like wad of chewing gum that steals scenes late in the film.
Sausage Party is an inventively profane and raunchy parody of those broadly appealing kids’ films, and it explores some universal themes of courage, friendship, theology, lust and friendship, and of course food. Food puns abound, although the animated Cloudy With Meatballs also unleashed a torrent of food puns and visual humour on audiences, and while some of the gags may seem familiar they are given a raunchy and more subversive tone here. Rogen and Goldberg manage to work some of the usual cliches of the stoner comedy into the material as well. Some of the humour also misses the mark and there are a few moments that misfire.
The computer generated animation is superb. The directors here are Greg Tiernan, who is better known for his work on the more family friendly Thomas The Tank Engine series of shorts and videos, and Conrad Vernon, a voice actor in animated films who has also directed films like Monsters Vs Aliens and Shrek 2, etc. Sausage Party is a far cry from their previous work in both tone and content. But there is more substance to this potty mouthed animated comedy than there is to many an empty live action blockbuster cluttering up our screens. It is also one of the funnier films to hit our screens this year! And be warned – there is a final orgy scene that will offend as many viewers as it does amuse.