“Sausage Party” Offers an Orgy of Jokes Crude, Rude, Lewd … and Sometimes Funny, Too!

Sausage Party

Sausage Party (Greg Tiernan/Conrad Vernon, 2016)

If the thought of your food having sex (note: not you having sex with your food) after doing battle with those who would eat it, all the while spouting gourmet profanities galore, then this just might be the movie for you. On the other hand, depending on your tolerance for ethnic and racial jokes, you could find the movie a turnoff (food sex notwithstanding). What is most definite, however, is that Sausage Party is not the family-friendly animated confection you have been waiting for (its R rating is well-earned). Hopefully, you already caught ZootopiaFinding Dory and/or The Secret Life of Pets earlier this year. Whatever you do, don’t take your children to see this, unless they’re adults, and even then, you may just want to sit in separate theaters. Unless you enjoy yukking it up over semen jokes with your offspring (and then I’d rather not know you, thank you very much), in which case, Sausage Party is your fantasy come to cinematic life!

The day dawns bright; the sun shines on the corn; a baritone sings out. No, this is not the opening of Oklahoma!, but rather a supermarket in a big city where produce, non-perishables and health and beauty products all celebrate each morning with a joyous song, hopeful that this will be the day they are chosen for the “great beyond.” As it so happens, it’s July 3, and tomorrow will be “red, white and blue day.” The frankfurters and buns are especially excited, as they know that this is a particularly fine opportunity for them to achieve their destiny. Among them are Frank (voiced by Seth Rogen, The Interview, also one of the writers) and Brenda (voiced by Kristen Wiig, Ghostbusters), a sausage and bread product made for each other, or so they believe, and as they’re declarations of first love, and then explicit raunchy lust, indicate, they have but one thought in mind, which is to join in coital harmony. They are not alone. Who knew that food was so eager to get it on?

Sadly, however, the spell of their idyll is broken by a returned jar of honey mustard, who tells of evil deeds afoot beyond the walls of the supermarket. One thing leads to another, and before long our heroes are jettisoned from their packaging, with but one goal in mind, which is to return things to the way they were. If this sounds like Toy Story, that’s because, apart from the choice of actual subjects and the foul language, it hews pretty close to the plot of most quest movies, animated or not. What makes the film stand apart is not the trajectory of its narrative, but it’s liberal use of scatological and carnal humor, as well as it’s equal-opportunity offenses in the realm of ethnic slurs. From a Woody Allen-esque nebbishy bagel (voiced by Edward Norton (Birdman) to a virgin-seeking Jew-hating Lavash (voiced by David Krumholtz , Gigi Does It) – and if you have to ask what a Lavash is, don’t worry, as the movie makes fun of that, as well – to a hot-blooded taco shell (voiced by Salma Hayek (Savages) to, well, many more (and many more actors than the ones listed here), the script indulges in every possible stereotype it can justify among the food shelves. It’s funny for a while, and not as offensive as it might seem, especially since so many supermarket items are marketed via such stereotypes, but then it just gets old.

And that’s the real problem with the movie. Inconsistent with the big laughs, it all too often elicits nothing more than a chuckle. Sausages proclaiming their desire to sleep with buns, in far more explicit language than that, is amusing, but the constant repetition of that fact is not. There needs to be more. Finally, at the end, there is, and I must admit that the grand finale did catch me unawares and make me laugh, loudly and raucously. But before then there was much squirming, and even a cringe or two when the film actually became quite violent (a not so quasi-rape scene, a beheading, and more). It’s quite the hodgepodge, with some tasty morsels and others quite rotten. Still, the audacity of that ending scene almost made the whole experience worth it. Go for that dessert, at least, and maybe you’ll enjoy the appetizer and main course more than I did.

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