Meaghan McDonough ‘17 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
From the very first trailers of Seth Rogen’s lewd, stoner bro-comedy, Sausage Party, people have been riled up. A raunchy romp disguised as typical Pixar pageantry at its outset, Sausage Party’s marketing came hard and came fast with their campaigning. Of course, while the trailer is kind of the crowning jewel— an accidental presentation of the R-Rated trailer at a showing of Finding Dory earlier this year only stood to stoke the flames—yellow posters featuring the film’s characters and catchy innuendos added to the notoriety. Local AMC Loews Boston Common 19 even went so far as to show ads including the tagline, “Rated R For A Reason” on the rotating screen above their entrance.
And yet, Sausage Party’s trailers made promises of more than few curse words, some dope weed jokes, and lots of cartoon violence. The posters offer even more where the trailer couldn’t: crude, sexually explicit humor. All under the sheen of formulaic animated film.
So did Sausage Party pay off?
A film in the hands of Seth Rogen is usually a hit or miss. Rogen’s particular brand of homoerotic loving-to-hate bro pot and parties can be a bit of an acquired taste. Sometimes you get Pineapple Express and other times you get The Interview. And that’s not to knock Rogen at all, who is talented enough to go from the PR nightmare that was The Interview to co-creator of critically acclaimed supernatural action-comedy Preacher in less than two years. But Rogen—a seasoned actor, writer, and even director these days—knows what sells, especially with summer release. And that, of course, is Raunchy with a capital R.
And Sausage Party is just that, but also something more.
One cannot accurately describe the plot of Sausage Party without a.) underselling it by forgetting details or b.) spoiling it. Even the trailer leaves out some incredible surprises. Sausage Party is about a hot dog named Frank (Rogen) and his experiences as a food item in a run-of-the-mill grocery store named ‘Shopwell’s’. Frank and all the other food items only have one goal: getting ‘chosen’ by humans to enter the ‘Great Beyond’. What they don’t realize while they’re at the market, of course, is that what they’re getting ‘chosen’ for is murder by being eaten.But, oh boy, do they find out.
Though Frank and hot dog bun Brenda (Kristen Wiig) don’t quite make it to the ‘Great Beyond’ to discover it first hand, Frank’s friend Barry (Michael Cera) does. The parallel narratives, plus the disgustingly hilarious antagonist played by Nick Kroll—one of the great surprises not shown off in the trailer, for obvious reasons—are what drive the plot forward. This isn’t an animated movie in that it uses the craft in an artful and poignant way; as Pixar and Dreamworks have mastered. Rather, Sausage Party uses the animation to run rampantly offensive material under the guise of, “Well, it’s just a bunch of talking food.”
And it works, because Rogen’s screenplay is downright catered to do it. Even more, it’s catered by and for the people Seth Rogen works with best: his friends. Comedian Jonah Hill and comedy writer Evan Goldberg joined Rogen to co-write the story, and all of the screenplay writers have worked with Rogen in the past. The cast, too, are mostly, if not all, Rogen movie alums or friends of the writer and actor. All of them also happen to be some of the top names in comedy: Bill Hader, Danny McBride, James Franco, and Jonah Hill—as well as others—make appearances. Sausage Party knows how to utilize these comedic talents to the best degree.
Most, if not all, of the characters were clearly designed for the actors who played them, which is part of what makes it so funny. The other part, of course, is how downright offensive the whole thing is. The script to Sausage Party leaked online just a week before the film’s release, and the outcry by the Internet’s infamous social justice warriors was rampant. And while some of the outcry is justified, and there are moments in the film that are just too cringe-worthy to laugh at, the movie itself kind of works out it’s own offensiveness.
It does that, mainly, by making a mockery of itself and the captive audience: a remarkably Meta scene at the close of the film really drives the point home.What helps Sausage Party succeed is the fact that it deals with big world issues in a strange and explosive way. The main premise of the film, when you strip away all the crude humor and cartoon violence and fucking food bullshit, you actually get this really horrifying story about a crisis of faith. What do you do when you find out everything you were raised to believe is a lie? What do you do when you find out the thing you worship is actually the thing that’s killing you?
The answer to that question is a nightmare, but Sausage Party works to tackle in the least depressing way possible: with lewd, absurdist humor that mocks everyone and everything, that offers something for all people to laugh at despite the terror of reality. Is Sausage Party crass, and wildly offensive? Yes, but it was never billed to be anything but. And sure, there are jokes that fall a little short of the mark—for being too off color, too far into the cesspool of insults—but they aren’t enough to deplete the truly funny, naughty, cringe-worthy bits. Its absurdist comedy at it’s best, with Seth Rogen in top form at its helm. Sausage Party, somehow, is so stupid that it’s actually smart. And if that’s not worth a bit of praise, it’s hard to say what is this day.
Overall Grade: B
Watch The Trailer: