Friday, August 12, 2016

Movie Review: Sausage Party

Sausage Party
Directed by: Greg Tiernan & Conrad Vernon.
Written by: Kyle Hunter & Ariel Shaffir & Seth Rogen & Evan Goldberg and Jonah Hill.
Starring: Seth Rogen (Frank), Kristen Wiig (Brenda), Jonah Hill (Carl), Bill Hader (Firewater/El Guaco), Michael Cera (Barry), James Franco (Druggie), Danny McBride (Honey Mustard), Craig Robinson (Mr. Grits), Paul Rudd (Darren), Nick Kroll (Douche), David Krumholtz (Vash), Edward Norton (Sammy Bagel Jr.), Salma Hayek (Teresa), Anders Holm (Troy), Scott Underwood (Twink/Gum).
Sausage Party is clearly an animated comedy aimed at 13-year old boys, or those of those who can still connect with that inner 13-year old. It is crude and rude, contains all sorts of vulgar sex jokes and plays on easy ethnic stereotypes. It opens with a song co-written by Marc Shaiman – which filled me with hope, as he is the man who is (partly) responsible for the songs of South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut and The Book of Mormon – and while the opening song doesn’t quite reach those heights, it’s still a highlight of the film – one that is sadly not repeated, as there are no other original songs in the film. Most of the jokes in the film are fairly obvious – and sometimes, a little labored, and if I’m being honest, very few actually made me laugh-out-loud. I will admit though, that throughout the movie I was smiling – the movie is consistently amusing – and at only 89 minutes, the time passes enjoyably enough. Had I been 13, Sausage Party would be one of my favorites of all time – but I’m 34, so it was merely okay.
The film mainly takes place in a giant grocery store – where the food starts out every day singing about The Great Beyond – and the Gods who are going to take them there. It focuses on a package of sausages, and the buns right next to them – especially Frank (Seth Rogen), a sausage, and Brenda (Kristen Wiig), a bun – they are hoping they will be chosen together by the Gods, so Frank can finally get all up in that tight bun. They assume that life outside the store is a paradise – never suspecting that the only thing that awaits them is a painful death.
Most of the runtime flashes back and forth between the journey Frank and Brenda take across the store (there is a shopping cart crash, and then end up outside their packages – and want to make their way back to their aisle – and have to do so along a bickering Bagel and Flatbread, standing in Israel and Palestine), and the reality of the Great Beyond, as seen by the stunted sausage, Barry (Michael Cera) – who ends up with a drug addict.
The film is a rather obvious religious allegory – with the “non-perishables” admitting that they made the whole story of the Great Beyond up, to make life easier in the store. If God didn’t exist, you would have to invent him after all - and that’s basically the gist of things here. The film, which has five credited writers, including Rogen and Evan Goldberg, his writing/directing partner of other films (like Superbad, This is the End and The Interview). They are capable of better, smarter comedies – or at least comedies that combine the idiotic and smart together better than this film does.
Still, as silly and stupid as much of Sausage Party is – it is also amusing from beginning to end. The jokes come, fast and furious, and enough of them land keep you having a good time. The movie takes the path of least resistance for most of its jokes – but even if they are obvious, they are still funny. The voice cast is consistently excellent – I quite enjoyed Edward Norton doing a Woody Allen impression as the bagel for example, and the straight forward animation is effective – especially at making humans seem even more gross than we actually are.
This summer has been short on good comedies – and while Sausage Party doesn’t rise to the level of its influences, nor even Rogen and Goldman’s best work, it’s still a good way to spend 89, tasteless, amusing minutes at the movie theater – although, more likely, most people will either see the film at pre-teen boy sleepovers with their buddies after their parents go to bed, or while stoned in a dorm room. In those viewing conditions, maybe the film is a comic masterpiece.

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