Sausage Party

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Starts out as brilliant satire, then devolves into a vulgar, pointless mess.
★★½
Movie Review #1,077

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Distributed by Columbia Pictures and Sony Pictures Releasing. Animation, Adventure, Comedy. Running time: 1 hour, 29 minutes. Rated R for strong crude sexual content, pervasive language, and drug use. Released August 12, 2016. Directed by Greg Tiernan and Conrad Vernon.  Produced by Megan Ellison, Evan Goldberg, Seth Rogen, and Conrad Vernon. Screenplay by Kyle Hunter & Ariel Shaffir & Seth Rogen & Evan Goldberg. Story by Seth Rogen & Evan Goldberg & Jonah Hill. Starring the voices of Nick Kroll, Edward Norton, Seth Rogen, Kristen Wiig, Iris Apatow, Michael Cera, James Franco, Bill Hader, Salma Hayek, Jonah Hill, Danny McBride, Craig Robinson, Greg Tiernan, and Conrad Vernon.

The moment I got up to leave the theater after seeing “Sausage Party”, one question was begging my attention: What the f—k did I just watch?  To tell you the truth, that question is still on my mind, and that is exactly the reason that it has taken me over several weeks to come up with a review for a movie.  There are adult cartoons, and then there is “Sausage Party”, the first CGI movie to ever receive an R rating, or the first R-rated movie to ever feature CGI animation, depending on how you prefer to look at it.  If there’s one compliment I can give the film, it’s that it’s not like anything I’ve ever seen before.  But that in itself is also a bit of a negative statement, as well.

The cast of characters consists largely of grocery store items; humans have speaking roles but are reduced to the role that the family cat might play in any other movie.  We learn from the very beginning that all of the products are eager to reach the Great Beyond—that is, the world beyond the double doors of the grocery store that they call home.  Frank, a hot dog, has a girlfriend, a bun, and hopes that a customer will buy both of them together so that he can live inside her (literally) in the Great Beyond once they are unpackaged.  At one point, a can of honey mustard is returned to the aisle and he tries to warn all of the items of his revelation in the Great Beyond.  Shortly before jumping from a shopping cart to his death, the honey mustard tells them that they have been indoctrinated with a lie; that there is nothing good about the Great Beyond; that their fate is to be cooked, boiled, cut, sliced, skewered, you get the picture.  However, the rest of the food items aren’t so quick to believe this.  It’s only later, once they see the Great Beyond for what it really is, that many of the items successfully escape.  But it’s not so easy to run and hide when at the same time, a vaginal douche is on the warpath.  This douche was in a shopping cart on his way to the Great Beyond, but was the only item returned at the cash register.  He feels singled out, and he wants vengeance, so he is “juicing up” with whatever he can find, and hunting down the grocery store items that have survived.

Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg were the masterminds who wrote and directed “This Is the End”, but they’re also the morons who wrote and directed “The Interview”.  In terms of quality, “Sausage Party” seats itself comfortably between those two.  Rogen and Goldberg wrote the script, but passed the baton to another duo, Greg Tiernan and Conrad Vernon.  However, there’s no doubt that the script dominants this film.  Its atheistic, apolitical commentary works for a while and then falls flat.  Starting out, the premise is quite valuable: we shouldn’t believe everything we hear until we have proof that it’s true.  Soon enough, the message becomes more blatant: religion sucks and all faiths are stupid.  It comes off not so much as insulting, but rather as daring satire.

What does come off as insulting is the latter half of the movie.  It’s obvious that Rogen and Goldberg were just having too much fun with the story.  Their brilliant satire quickly disintegrates as soon as the douche becomes a prominent figure in this story.  Now it’s no longer about bashing religion and faith; it’s just about meaningless vulgarity.  The second half of “Sausage Party” consists of boring misadventures in the “Great Beyond.”  To boil it down (no pun intended) to three key plot points, there’s a douche on the loose, a lazy bum on bath salts who is supposed to save them all, and a plot the food items form to drug everyone in the grocery store to make them realize that the food they eat is real and has feelings.  What seems like an ostensibly normal film for the first forty-five minutes, spends the next forty-five minutes becoming the most revoltingly absurd sight I have seen in quite a while.  To top all of that off, the film ends with the food items engaging in a weird sex orgy.  Unfortunately, that was five minutes of my life that I’m never getting back.

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