Sausage Party ***1/2

It has an insane premise, but it’s a laugh riot that’s wildly outrageous and great fun.
Is It worth $10? Yes
Many years ago, a fledgling animation studio introduced the world to a film where toys were actually alive and subject to be no more than play things for their human hosts. In some cases this relationship fostered mutual admiration and, in some, the toys were made to suffer. "Sausage Party" takes that latter idea of anthropomorphic suffering to a whole other level. Food is meant to be consumed. By people, by animals, by waste bins. Food does not live a happy life. This animated feature by the guys who brought you "This Is the End" flips the good-natured talking toy (or bug or car or emotion) movie on its head, and boy does it get dark. 
The film starts with an extravagant musical number composed by Alan Menken, the celebrated songwriter behind "The Little Mermaid," "The Hunchback of Notre Dame," and "Beauty and the Beast," about how various supermarket foods cannot wait to get to the "Great Beyond." Make no mistake, this is not a Disney musical number as it features, among other things, a line delivered by angry sauerkraut involving exterminating the "juice." From there, we meet Frank (Seth Rogen) and Brenda (Kristen Wiig), a sausage and a bun who cannot wait to be joined together as one, figuring that once they are chosen, as all the foods believe, they will be together. Frank starts to suspect that something about the great beyond may not be right and as a horrific accident occurs, he and Brenda set off to find out the truth while the rest of Frank's package-mates soon discover the truth first-hand. Frank must try to convince the rest of the food at the grocery store to realize the truth before it is too late all while being pursued by an evil Douche (Nick Kroll).

The dark nature of the film is offset by the Disney-style design of the characters, doe-eyed faces all the way down to the four-fingered gloves, and colorful packaging of many of the characters. Further establishing it as a non-Disney flick is the content. The film is likely Seth Rogen's filthiest offering to the movie-going public, surpassing that of "Superbad," "Zack and Miri Make A Porno," and "This Is the End." The R-rated film is meant to shock on every level. Cultural jokes abound as ethnic foods are featured, characters are eviscerated in any number of gory ways, sex jokes are near constant (note the marketing slogan "A Hero Will Rise" with Frank rising upward from the side of the poster), foul language is non-stop, and it all works wonderfully. The film is non-stop hilarious with most jokes hitting the mark and the range of humor ensuring that there will be something for someone. Beyond the one-liners and double-entendres, sight gags (including a great homage to “Saving Private Ryan”) prove to be a strong crowd-pleaser and the aforementioned shock humor is sure to elicit multiple chuckles. Seth Rogen and writing partner Evan Goldberg keep the story moving and don't get bogged down in the humor. The jokes come naturally of the situations and not the other way around, which services the overall film well.
Also admirable is how committed the cast (including Edward Norton, Salma Hayek, Jonah Hill, Michael Cera, Bill Hader and many more) was to bringing their characters to life. Featuring many of Rogen's long-time collaborators, each actor gives a distinct voice to their food, whether it is a sausage, a grocery store clerk, a used condom, or a Jewish bagel, elevating their performance to more than famous names putting their voices to animated characters. The animation, however, is not the cleanest. Many of the character designs are very simple and are not photorealistically rendered, particularly amongst the human characters. This does not detract from the overall film because the amount of background details and sight gags (watching the film a second time just to read labels crossed my mind) occupy enough attention that the look of the characters does not particularly matter.

Like many of Rogen's other films, "Sausage Party" exists to poke fun at films in general with its meta-references and seeks to emphasize some sort of screwed up part of our psyches. We all eat and enjoy food. It is necessary for life. But the commercialization and overconsumption of sustenance is something that certainly lurks beneath the surface of this film and adds perhaps more depth than I expected. While the film at its most basic is a laugh-a-minute riot, that underlining message is what elevates it to something more than some schlock piece.

Ultimately, “Sausage Party” is another raunchy comedy from Seth Rogen that delivers solid laughs throughout and offers a solid answer to Pixar’s family-friendly brand of anthropomorphic animated features. While the animation is not as clean other animated features, the amount of background details will keep the audience’s eyes busy enough that it won’t detract from the overall experience. Those who have not enjoyed Rogen’s efforts in the past will not find anything new here to convert them, but those going into the film with an idea of what to expect should find enough laughs to make it worthwhile.

Josh Walbert is an entertainment guru with a passion for film and television. He lives south of Orlando, FL, with his girlfriend, and relatively extensive DVD/Blu-Ray collection.

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