It’s not often that you see a literal douche as a movie villain. Then again, it’s not often that you see an adults-only animated film that creates a discussion about religious tensions through comedy. “Sausage Party” takes the classic animated film formula (anthropomorphize a series of inanimate objects, add some catchy songs, and make everything as colorful as possible) and adds irreverent jokes, visual gags, and too many food puns to count. Like other animated films, it also has an overt moral lesson.
The foods in “Sausage Party” wake up at the supermarket yearning to be bought. They venerate humans as gods, but they don’t know of the horrors that lie just past the sliding doors (being boiled alive, cut into pieces, etc.) It’s almost Fourth of July, and Frank (Seth Rogen), a hot dog, and Brenda (Kristen Wiig), his bun girlfriend, are ready to finally take their relationship to the next level in the “Great Beyond,” a haven where food roams happy and free after humans buy them. Rogen seems to be having a great time, playing his usual man child character, that grows into an adult before our very eyes. Wiig is also entertaining as funny and neurotic Brenda, who breaks into song at inopportune moments. The food live in a rigid and moral society in order to be bought by their gods and move onto a greater plane.
When Frank and Brenda’s packages are placed in the same shopping cart, they think they’re set for life, but they end up falling out of the cart trying to save a suicidal mustard jar (Danny McBride) who was traumatized after his return from the horrors of the “Great Beyond.” Frank and Brenda team up with Sammy Bagel Jr. (Edward Norton) and Kareem Abdul Lavash (David Krumholtz,) who spend most of the movie debating about who deserves the most space in the Middle Eastern food aisle. It’s a clever parallel to the Israeli-Palestine conflict, only this one ends up happily as they bond over their mutual friend, Hummus.
The group gets chased by a sanitary douche (Nick Kroll,) who wants revenge for falling out of the cart. Kroll plays the villain brilliantly as a cannibalistic raging maniac willing to do anything for revenge. While Frank and his friends are running away from the douche, he comes across the Non-Perishables, Twinkie (Scott Underwood), Firewater (Bill Hader), and Mr. Grits (Craig Robinson), who created the “Great Beyond” myth. Frank wants everyone to know that there is no life past the store doors, while Brenda and the other foods believe that it should be up to the food to decide.
“Sausage Party” is not just funny, it’s also lovingly animated by Sony Pictures’ ImageWorks and Nitrogen studios. The cartoon foods are big-eyed and wear Mickey Mouse-style gloves. They look like they belong in a children’s animated movie which makes the bawdy jokes stand out even more. The directors, Conrad Vernon (“Shrek”) and Greg Tiernan (“Thomas the Tank Engine”) and the animators, who mostly work on children’s films, pull out all the stops: cartoonish “Itchy and Scratchy” style deaths, Nazi sauerkraut, and a literal food orgy.
Just like the animation, the music is a throwback to Disney. Perhaps the best part of Alan Menken’s (“Aladdin,” “The Little Mermaid”) score is the catchy opening song, where the food sings about their future in the “great beyond.” It basically sets up the whole premise, while introducing a bunch of wildly offensive edible characters (the German jars of sauerkraut who want to gas the Juice, the gay Fruits, and the feuding Jewish and Arabic foods.) “Sausage Party” is a great comedy thanks to its strong voice cast, animation, and script. It asks huge philosophical questions: Is religion is necessary for comfort? Is knowing the truth always better? By adding “South Park” style humor (satirical, crude, and offensive for the sake of making us think about a larger issue) to these existential questions, “Sausage Party” has the potential to become a modern comedy classic.
RATING: 4 out of 5
PHOTO CREDIT: Sony Pictures Entertainment