Review: Sausage Party
Raunch comes in bulk in this grocery store tale of the secret life of the food we eat. It is a cross between The Secret Life of Pets and Toy Story, but with a brand of humor that would make Ted laugh. If you don't know who Ted is, you probably have no business anywhere near this one. The first word in the film is profane and the final sequence is an orgy-filled set piece involving just about every one of the food items you come to know in the film's 86-minute runtime. Sandwiched in between is a fair number of laughs and just enough "humanity" to move the needle.
The film opens with with a musical number reminiscent of The Book of Mormon--irreverent, sacrilegious and overall a good time. The items that stock this grocer's shelves want to be bought and make it to "The Great Beyond." They do everything they can to follow the rules and appear presentable in front of "the gods" or the shoppers that might potentially take them home.
Our protagonist is a sausage named Frank (voiced by Seth Rogan). He and his love interest, a bun named Brenda, dream of a day they will get out of their packages and Frank can lay inside her as he was always meant to. Over the course of the movie, Frank learns that what he has always believed may not be true, and that perhaps the human-gods were not selecting them for some amazing afterlife. Armed with this knowledge, he tries persuade the other food items that they need join forces to avoid being eaten.
If you go in expecting a gross-out, empty raunch-fest, you will leave pleasantly surprised. Rogan's Sausage Party is deceptively deep. It wraps its universal message in sophomoric laughs and the effect mostly works. It winds up being a metaphysical meditation on existence, purpose and the differences we so often allow to define our lives.
Much like Zootopia, the allegorical elements exist pretty near the surface here. Sammy Bagel Jr. (voiced by Edward Norton) is Jewish and Kareem Abdul Lavash (voiced by David Krumholtz) is Muslim. Pretty easy to draw the lines from there to their territorial fight over shelf space being an allegory for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. And while that is definitely by design, I couldn't help but feel like characters that were slightly more nuanced would have given their point more resonance.
So many of the characters are one-dimensional and almost border on offensive, which isn't a problem in and of itself. The problem comes in when the movie's central contention is that we should work to overcome our differences and see ourselves as part of a common experience. That the film failed to focus on anything other than those differences and the humor that can be derived from them, robs the movies of its moral high-ground. Mr. Grits (voiced by Craig Robinson), for instance, the "Black" character gets a few punchlines and smokes marijuana. That type of simplistic treatment was repeated in several characters and gave the experience a bit less heft.
Overall, it is hard to object to too much here. The movie has definite heart and smarts. There are some lovable characters and they come bearing a decent message. If you are someone who revels in off-color humor, this is an offering you should let push your boundaries.
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