This party is for adults only. And by adults, I mean people over the age of 17 who enjoy crude sexual content, pervasive language, and drug use. You know, the kind of stuff you’re only allowed to watch once you’re mature. If you avoid these things when selecting a movie, or are a religious person who’s offended by anything that pokes fun at what you believe, then steer clear of “Sausage Party.”
I don’t mean to come across as a prude; I’m trying to be sensitive to the feelings of different people. Which is something “Sausage Party,” a new computer animated movie, makes no attempt to do.
That’s not a ding, it’s an observation. Co-written by Seth Rogen, who’s made a career out of wallowing in juvenile humor, “Sausage Party” drops enough f-bombs to make Scarface blush, is as obsessed with sex as the average teenage boy, and is eager to offend. (Think “Fritz the Cat” for the Pixar generation.) At the same time, its marshmallowly middle consists of a surprisingly sweet love story and a timely message about tolerance.
“Sausage Party” is set in a colorful, brightly lit supermarket called Shopwell’s, where the food items worship the customers as gods and believe the shoppers are there to take them to the Great Beyond, where they’ll live happily ever after. Each morning, as the store opens, they sing a happy, bouncy song in worship to the gods, and then settle down and pray they get chosen.
Among the food items is a sausage named Frank. Frank is infatuated with Brenda, a hot dog bun whose pack is near his. Brenda likes Frank, too, but says they can’t couple up until they go to the Great Beyond. If she were to open up and let Frank in while they were at Shotwell’s, the gods would become angry.
OK, the sexual innuendo and religious metaphors are as subtle as a punch in the nose, but Rogen set his sights low, and should at least be commended for hitting the bull’s-eye.
When a bottle of honey mustard is purchased and then returned, it brings back a horrifying tale of what really happens in the Great Beyond, and tells Frank to see a bottle of liquor named Firewater, who also knows the truth. Later, the honey mustard tries to commit suicide by jumping out of a grocery cart, and Frank leaves his package to save him, but winds up hanging over the edge of the cart. Brenda leaves her package to save Frank, and in the ensuing chaos, several items meet a gory end. In the aftermath, Frank sets off for the liquor aisle, a motley crew of bruised and battered products in tow.
Your enjoyment of “Sausage Party” will hinge on what tickles your funny bone. If you like extreme humor, such as a lavash and a bagel engaging in gay sex, or a stoner getting high on bath salts, or an evil douche doing something to a young man that hews uncomfortably close to rape humor, then you’ll probably yuck it up. But if you find any of these things offensive or are upset by people telling you your spiritual beliefs are bull snot, then you’ll probably think “Sausage Party” is the worst film ever made.
But it’s not. While the humor might be base and obvious, “Sausage Party” knows what kind of movie it is and goes for broke. I didn’t laugh a lot, but I did admire its lack of pretension. Then there’s the animation, which is slick but lacks texture. The film wasn’t made for animation buffs, though, so who’s going to complain? And although the love story is simple, it’s also satisfying, and explores how individuals with different points of view can set aside their differences and find romance.
The message of “Sausage Party” is the aspect of the movie with which I have struggled the most. All of the relationships in the film explore the theme of tolerance – of looking beyond our differences and embracing each other. It’s a relevant message. But it’s wrapped in a movie that places barriers between itself and the people Rogen believes needs to hear what he has to say. The viewers who will spend most of the film in stitches already get it. The people who will either never see the film or walk out of it won’t. So what’s the point?
I suppose the climactic (ho ho) scene provides clues. I don’t want to give it away, but if you speak with someone who’s seen the film, they’ll probably mention it. I’ll never forget it. Suffice to say once all of the food at Shopwell’s knows the truth, they unleash unholy hell on their former gods and then throw a party that would make Caligula jealous. Essentially, Rogen is telling his fans to kick the religious habit and do what feels good.
These days, you can do worse than make a movie that tells everyone to stop taking themselves so seriously. I just don’t know if a food orgy is the most effective way to say it. (Oops! I guess I gave it