Blu-Ray Pick of the Week: Sausage Party

Raunchy animated comedy is offensive to everyone, and therefore is offensive to none. And it’s hilarious!

Upon first glance, there is something about “Sausage Party” that is very familiar. The computer animation is bright and cheery. Anthropomorphic items in a grocery store sing a happy tune about being taken away to the Great Beyond by the “gods”—aka shoppers. It looks like something that came out of Pixar.

Then you start paying close attention to the lyrics of the song, and you realize that this is far from a kid-friendly Pixar movie—as if the double entendre title “Sausage Party” didn’t give that away already. This movie may borrow the look of Pixar, but the similarities end there. As an ode or a dig—it’s hard to tell which—there is a bumper sticker on a car that says Dixar. Cheap joke, but this movie isn’t going for urbane, sophisticated laughs. It’s going for broader, lewder, cruder comedy—and it delivers.

“Sausage Party” also borrows a bit from Pixar’s “Toy Story,” in which toys come to life whenever humans aren’t around. The difference here is that the walking, talking grocery items in “Sausage Party” are always alive. Humans don’t see the items in their shopping carts move and talk because it happens on another dimensional plane of existence. The only way that humans can lift the veil and see into the grocery dimension is by tripping on bath salts, as one character known as Druggie (voice of James Franco) comes to know.

The movie has fun with food in a dirty-minded adolescent way. The hero of the story, Frank (voice of Seth Rogen) is a hot dog. His girlfriend Brenda (voice of Kristen Wiig) is a bun. You can see where that’s going, but it’s still funny. The key is the timing and the execution, which Rogen and Wiig have. Frank and Brenda are both in clear, plastic packages and situated next to each other on a display rack for what they know as “Red, White, and Blue” day. That’s the day that a lot of hot dogs and buns get chosen for the Great Beyond. Then they will be released from their packages so they can be together—or so they think.

A mishap in a shopping cart causes them to be spilled out. Along the way they make friends, like Sammy Bagel Jr. (voice of Edward Norton doing a Woody Allen impression), Firewater (voice of Bill Hader doing a Native American chief impression), and Teresa Del Taco (voice of Salma Hayek). They also make an enemy: Douche (voice of Nick Kroll). He’s a fantastic villain. A loud, obnoxious, unabashed, in your face, straight from MTV’s “Jersey Shore,” grade A…well, douche. The guy is a total douche. Yes, it’s on the nose comedy writing. Also yes—it’s damn funny.

It’s one thing to stereotype one demographic group in a movie. It’s quite another to stereotype them all. The latter is actually the better way since doing so absolves the movie makers from any criticism about unfair stereotyping. For any Jew who wants to complain about Sammy, or any Native American upset over Firewater, note that Lavash (voice of voice of David Krumholtz) is a hateful Arab, Mr. Grits (voice of Craig Robinson) is the quintessential angry black man, the fruits sing a Wham! Song, and the Sauer Kraut wants to exterminate the Juice. It’s ridiculous, everyone gets knocked, and there is no point in getting upset over it. The stereotypes in this movie are played for fun and laughs.

Does that make it right? Yes, I think so, since the movie makers are not trying to be demeaning or harmful—they just want to entertain and get laughs. One of the major problems we have culturally in the United States is that way too many segments of the population feel as though it’s their right—and beyond that, their duty—to get offended at the most minute of perceived slights. It’s absurd how incredibly uptight we’ve become as a nation. We need to relax, not get offended so much by so little, and learn to once again laugh at ourselves as well as others. I applaud “Sausage Party” for having the audacity to “go there” and test overly sensitive people’s tolerances. Buy it on Amazon and see if you pass: Sausage Party [Blu-ray].

More New Releases: “Kickboxer: Vengeance,” the title says it all, starring Dave Bautista, Jean-Claude Van Damme, and Gina Carano; "Indignation," about the struggles of a New Jersey Jew in a small Ohio college circa 1951; and “Beyond Glory,” documentary about eight Medal of Honor recipients from WWII, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War.

Andrew Hudak is a lifelong film lover. His column on Blu-Ray new releases appears every Tuesday. He lives in Connecticut.