If you’re looking for an alternative animated film that’s different from the usual Disney/Pixar and Dreamworks animation, then Sausage Party would be the ideal. It has all the hallmarks and aesthetics of a cute film that you would normally attribute for a young audience but it’s an adult centric comedy.
Yet, there’s a major problem. I simply can’t recommend it.
Frank: “What you’re saying is, it’s true. I got to tell everyone.”
Firewater: “Very noble, little sausage. But also, very pointless. No one will believe you.”
Frank: “I have to try… Everyone will die otherwise.”
Firewater: “Oh, yeah. That’s a good point. Fuck me, right?”
Frank: “Wait. Do you guys have any proof of this?”
There’s a frustration to be had with Sausage Party. When the red band trailer was released early this year, I could see the potential. I will admit that I laughed at a lot at the trailer. I thought it was a clever twist involving food and their real purpose in life. I would go as far as to saying it reminded me of an episode from The Amazing World of Gumball called The World where inanimate objects come to life (hilarious episode – check it out).
Despite the positive beginnings, Sausage Party is painfully unfunny, relying on the same crude humour throughout its 90 minute runtime.
In my review of Dirty Grandpa, I talked about the essence of comedy and what makes it stand out. It’s the ability to have memorable moments. It’s the ability to sympathise with the characters during the hilarity. Making the exact mistakes as Dirty Grandpa, when a film is filled with constant profanity and vulgarity, it becomes overwhelming. It loses the essence and point that the film is trying to make.
Sausage Party is one sexual innuendo joke after another, after another, after another with limited variation on anything else. As the minutes roll on, the film slowly becomes a soft porn advert but with food.
Now before you call the PC brigade, first and foremost I knew exactly what I was expecting. If you’re familiar with the Seth Rogen humour as displayed in Pineapple Express, This is the End and Bad Neighbours, then Sausage Party is relatively in good company. I wanted to be entertained and sadly Sausage Party did not do that. Secondly, when actual humour lacks timing and is largely substituted with swear words, then it’s not comedy. That’s forcing a joke that is not there. It’s crude humour for the sake of crude humour by covering up a wafer thin plot.
You get this sensation that Sausage Party would have worked if it wasn’t a 90 minute film. The jokes ran on for too long to the point where my head was yelling ” alright, alright – we get it. He’s a sausage, she’s a bun and you want to have sex. What else is new?”
“You’re celebrating your doom! Wake up! They’re lying to your fucking faces! The Great Beyond is bullshit! Why is anybody listening to me?” – Honey Mustard
The plot itself is basic yet somehow complicates itself. The food products all believe that the human Gods (us) have chosen them to go to the promise land, a place where they’re all cared and loved for. You could almost argue that it’s an allegory for heaven. They sing songs full of joy and praise to the Gods, their morning ritual of belief and hope they will be picked off the shelf. However they learn a painful truth – there is no promise land. The food is eaten. What could have been a good opportunity to explore that rational at great lengths, the story acts fast and loose, jumping between characters and drug-filled moments. Not only do the food products have to get to the bottom of the conspiracy, you have Barry (Michael Cera) who has to battle his self-confidence and Brenda (Kristen Wiig) and Frank (Seth Rogen) deal with a bully in a form of a douche. It’s no surprise I became bored very quickly after the film began. There’s a total lack of engagement and they become distractions. Why not escape their life in the supermarket? Why not find a new way of living? Sadly, these are questions which are never answered.
The film also heavily relies on stereotyping to convey its story. America is represented as a red, white and blue sausage and a hot dog bun. Mexico is represented as a taco and a bottle of tequilla. There’s a Jewish bagel and a Muslim lavash which somehow become representatives on Middle East politics and all the German food products are Nazis. None of this actually feels justified or necessary.
Don’t get me wrong, there are some positive moments of hilarity. I did laugh at the Saving Private Ryan homage where everyone looked dazed and confused as if they had been in a war. I did laugh at the non-perishables and their introduction. And a douche will always remain a douche! But those moments are far and few in between. In fact, the red band trailer was the real highlight because all the best jokes were in it.
What Sausage Party ultimately lacks is a payoff and again that comes down to the comedy. Imagine watching Toy Story and you didn’t care about Woody and Buzz? That’s what Sausage Party felt like. It doesn’t actually allow for you to care about the characters and their journey. If that crucial element is non-existent, then it becomes empty and shallow. Why should you bother about food being eaten by the human Gods? What impact is it having on you?
I’m not saying Sausage Party has to get all philosophical or sentimental. However I can’t help but think this was a missed opportunity. There are other films out there that do the exact same thing and it puts Sausage Party to shame.
Enter the stage Matt Stone and Trey Parker, the co-creators of South Park.
South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut and Team America: World Police are both a satirical look at American culture and values. South Park looked at the blame culture, censorship and the influences on American children and parenting. The extent of the problem was so gigantic in the film that it went as far as to blame Canada and make Terrence and Phillip scapegoats. Team America: World Police examines America and their battle against terrorism. It was filmed as if you was watching a Michael Bay film with his ‘Bayhem’ mentally and fused together with the 60s British puppet show Thunderbirds.
The point is, Matt Stone and Trey Parker were not afraid of the subject matter. Both films used profanity not in a crude way but to subtly make a statement about the world we live in. Whether it is expressed through a musical song or a bit of dialogue, the point of the film is clear. That’s what Sausage Party lacks. It doesn’t do anything except existing.
If this is your type of humour, then that’s fine. Sausage Party is a film that knows its audience. However, there’s a crucial point to be made.
There is a reason why Disney/Pixar animated films are well received. Their core strength is on its storytelling. It’s their foundation. Of course Sausage Party didn’t aim to be Disney, but that doesn’t excuse its execution. It should have been better.