Sausage Party  is the new animated summer film you will definitely need to think twice about bringing your kids along for. This R-rated comedy about anthropomorphic food boasts the voice talents of Seth Rogen, Kristen Wiig, Jonah Hill, Michael Cera, and Edward Norton, with quite a few others rounding out a star-studded cast. Greg Tiernan and Conrad Vernon direct a screenplay that was penned by Rogen, Evan Goldberg, Kyle Hunter, and Ariel Shaffir.
Relevant topics, contradictory gags: Sausage Party is about a hot dog named Frank (no matter how many times the movie bafflingly refers to him as a sausage) who wants nothing more than to be taken from the supermarket to the “Great Beyond”, a term used to describe wherever it is humans take their food after leaving the store. Humans are viewed as gods and our hundreds of talking food items know nothing about their true purpose (to be devoured by hungry human mouths). The film covers topics ranging from religion and the ignorance associated with blind belief systems to racial and LGBTQ tolerance. While these postmodernist ideals are thought-provoking, it is a shame that the film spends so much time meandering between promoting their importance and slamming the audience with full-blown racial and religious stereotypes for laughs.
Gimmicks over laughs: The failures that befall Sausage Party are the very same that plagued This is the End, another Rogen-Goldberg script. Both films take an idea with incredible potential and degrade their respective values with empty profanity and vulgarity. A cartoon hot dog can only say the word ‘fuck’ so many times before the shock value is lost on the audience. This is not to say that gleeful use of colorful language and raunchy sight gags are not funny, but unfortunately, Sausage Party has very few real jokes to offer. As I watched the film, it quickly became apparent that most of the laughs from the audience started because a character said something inappropriate. Because HA! Cartoons saying awful things are hilarious. Nearly every character and every conflict in this film is played as a gag. The two main characters are a hot dog and a bun who really want to have sex…gee I wonder how that works. The antagonist is a douchebag…no, seriously. Just on those two examples, it shouldn’t be too hard to imagine how this film’s running jokes bury themselves 10 feet deep.
Painfully underused ideas: The red-band trailer for this movie really built up expectations of a film about the horrors of self-aware food items trying to save themselves from becoming dinner. In actual fact, that hilariously dark scene in the trailer is part of an underplayed but far more interesting side story, while our main characters spend the entire film in the supermarket attempting to get back to their respective aisles. The middle section of Sausage Party drags along particularly slow, benefiting only from that aforementioned side story outside of the supermarket. The switching between the two lines of progression actually becomes annoying when the adventure that is downplayed as less important is so much more engaging than the other.
On the bright side, there are gags that work to balance out the many that don’t. Indeed, your enjoyment of the film may depend entirely on your brand of humor. If the very idea of seeing ridiculously vulgar food items nearly give your grandmother an aneurysm in the theatre is hilarious to you, then maybe Sausage Party is for you (but in all seriousness, please leave Grandma at home). But for those looking for strong pacing and effective capitalization on great ideas, Sausage Party may leave you wanting more. Now that being said, one of the final scenes of the film had the rest of the audience and myself unable to contain our laughter. You’ll know exactly what I mean when you see the film. If for nothing else; to Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg, and the rest of your team…I thank you for that scene.