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Sausage Party - Cinemaholic Movie Reviews
one person's obsessive addiction to film
Sausage Party
Directing: B
Acting: B+
Writing: B
Cinematography: B
Editing: B+
Animation: B

Sausage Party is over the top, a bit much . . . and of course that's entirely the point. It's an R-rated animated feature. It's also intermittently very funny. I mean, it got a lot of good laughs out of me. Isn't that all we want?

The real question is, I suppose, how much you can take. This is a pretty crass film when it wants to be, which should come as no surprise from the same writers as The Night Before and The Interview and This Is the End (only that last one was better than Sausage Party, which is better than the other two). Crass humor for little more than the sake of crass humor can be hit or miss, and in Sausage Party, it actually hits just a bit more often than it misses.

As with any of these comedies involving Seth Rogen (who here voices the hero, Frank, a hot dog) and his longtime collaborators Evan Goldberg and Jonah Hill (who also voices one of the hot dogs packaged with Frank and his friend Barry, a deformed hot dog voiced by Michael Cera), it's really best not to focus too much on the plot. Well, except that most of what happens in Sausage Party is layered satire referencing some aspect of our culture, including the concept itself: this is one movie that semi-rips off Toy Story (humans don't realize grocery products -- instead of toys -- have a life of their own unbeknownst to them), but it takes the concept to a different level. The characters here wind up arguing about the merits of believing in "There Great Beyond," the world outside the grocery store doors, where they think they are destined for something great after their life in the grocery store. But some of them, and this is no spoiler given what's in the trailers, discover that what awaits them beyond those doors is something far darker than they expected.

Of course, logically, it makes no sense to think there could possibly be any possible solution to this -- the "gods" they revere (humans) need food to survive. How can these food-product characters possibly find any kid of happy ending here? Well, spoiler alert! They actually kind of find a way. I guess this is testament to the skill of these filmmakers -- they take the oddest concepts and, well, they find a way. They also push the envelope about as far as they can push it. I'll give this to them: no other movie before in history has ever featured a literal orgy featuring grocery products.

But that gets back to how much you can take. It should come as no surprise, given its R rating, that this movie is not for kids. But this is a hard, hard, hard-R rating. There's innuendo, and then there's blatantly straightforward sexual humor -- and Sausage Party really leans toward the latter, which is unusual for a cartoon. The people making this movie clearly feel that's part of the fun. And depending on your perspective, that's the case for this movie's target audience as well.

I suppose I might as well mention the racial stereotypes also featured in this film, when it comes to certain products. Edward Norton voices Sammy Bagel as a clear impersonation of Woody Allen as the insecure Jew; he has a love/hate relationship with Kareem Abdul Lavash, who is voiced by David Krumholtz. Should I also mention that Salma Hayek voices a lesbian taco shell who has the hots for Brenda Bunson, the bun voiced by Kristen Wiig who is the love interest of Frank? There's also a very stereotypically Mexican voiced bottle of tequila (Bill Hader); a stereotypically Native American bottle of liquor named Firewater (also Bill Hader); and a stereotypically black box of grits named Mr. Grits (Craig Robinson). Does it make any difference that Salma Hayek, a latina, and Craig Robinson, a black man, are in on the joke? I would argue that it does, but I'm white, so what the fuck do I know? All I know is that I laughed plenty at this movie. I couldn't necessarily say I laughed for the right reasons, but it makes it easier being aware of the diversity of the voice talent. It's possible -- but not definite -- that people with a problem with this movie are missing the point. For the most part, Sausage Party highlights the preposterousness of the ways we let our differences get in our way. I could also mention that I am gay and I have no problem with "Twink" (also Scott Underwood), the Twinkie rendered as a stereotypically young gay man.

By now it should be common knowledge that this movie-making team thrives on being irreverent, to put it euphemistically, or to be more straightforward, on being offensive. But in this case they aren't offensive just for the sake of being offensive. What Sausage Party has going for it is its layered satire -- something younger audiences might miss, which is probably why it's for the best that it's rated R. Don't get me wrong, there is still plenty in it that's just crass for the fun of being crass. And, curiously, some of the gags that made me laugh the most were perfectly harmless puns (someone says, "K, so--" and a package of queso is like, "Yeah?" -- this kind of thing happens a lot in this movie and I loved it). I also kind of love that the villain is literally a douche. This movie has something for everyone!

Okay, so Sausage Party is far from a great film. So what? No one making this movie is going for that. When it all comes down to it, the litmus test is whether it delivers laughs. And this movie does that, for certain. Depending on how uptight you are, anyway.

Scott Underwood, Michael Cera, Kristen Wiig and Seth Rogen are the life of the grocery products in SAUSAGE PARTY.

Overall: B


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