This Thursday, Columbia Pictures is inviting audiences to a Sausage Party. The incredibly R-rated animated film depicts the inner workings of a grocery store “after-hours.” Sometimes it’s easy to dismiss these movies, written by Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg, and Jonah Hill, as nothing more than just sophomoric filth; but it appears this film is an exception. It’s filled to brim with raunchy moments (including a scene that makes the puppet sex scene in Team America: World Police look very “G” rated), and it’s also stuffed with wit and moments of pure hilarity that make this Sausage Party one that can’t be missed.
The movie unfolds in a world where items at the supermarket are anthropomorphic and reside in the same world as humans. The items are unaware that each of them is faced with an expiration date; once they are purchased, they either will be eaten or used up. These products make humans out to be Gods who are set forth on this earth to select them and take them to the “great beyond.”
Frank (a sausage voiced by Seth Rogen) and his girlfriend Brenda (a bun voiced by Kristen Wiig) long for the day they are chosen and get to see what lies in the great beyond. However, a returned honey mustard (Danny McBride) informs them all of what lay in the great beyond is nothing but their inevitable doom. While this is going on the three of them are selected and are headed to the “great beyond” when an altercation occurs that jettisons all of them out the cart. In this accident, a pissed off, literal Douche (Nick Kroll), breaks his nozzle and immediately claims that he will have his vengeance.
One thing that stood out to me was Greg Tiernan and Conrad Vernon, the directors. Tiernan is best known for his work directing countless episodes of Thomas The Train, and Conrad Vernon has directed numerous animated films. Both of these choices added a weird animated level of legitimacy. Tiernan brings his bright/bold style of animation one can see in any episode of Thomas The Train dating as far back as 2012. Vernon has directed three feature-length animated films (Shrek 2, Monsters vs. Aliens, and Madagascar 3) and lent his expertise to this production. Goldberg and Rogen did the right thing by handing over the direction of this product to experienced professionals.
Where Sausage Party shines is in its writing. Rogen and Goldberg craft a screenplay that not only will cause audiences to hurt from laughing so hard but also ponder if there is a topic that these two would feel was actually taboo. For example, they craft multiple song and dance numbers, but the one involving Meatloaf was by far the funniest. In the midst of “I will do anything for love” they create an animated meatloaf singing while driving a motorcycle that resembled the one from the video. The attention to detail in that scene and the timing of the song is hysterical. As for taboo topics, well there is a lesbian taco (I swear I’m not making this up) voiced by Selma Hayek who is trying to seduce Brenda during the film. However, they do balance the absurd, the taboo, and the hilarity with great precision. This is where having experienced directors pays off.
What surprised me most about the movie wasn’t the level of depravity that Rogen and Goldberg are willing to strive towards, but the shocking depth. This film certainly does tackle religion throughout as these anthropomorphic items believe in a God (humans) and have faith that they all will be rewarded if chosen. Frank has to deal with his faith being shaken when he learns that his belief system is built on a bunch of lies. He has to decide if he has to keep pressing forward and hopes for his faith to be restored or just submit to his inevitable fate. A surprising amount of depth for a film that has a Sausage dropping the “F” bomb left and right.