There are lots of animated films coming out right now. Therefore, I’m doing an Animation Week here on the blog, continuing with:
On our last episode, The Little Prince, I brought up some things that don’t automatically make you or anything else “adult”. For instance, you don’t need to let go of the whimsy of imagination and you don’t need to conform to a system that dictates the entirety of your existence. When it comes to movies, meanwhile, there’s a lot more to being adult than dropping F bombs and referencing the human mating ritual. This is where Sausage Party, which boasts about being the rarity that is an R-rated animated movie, comes in.
The thing with the R-rating is that you can always tell when the rating is a byproduct of the film that got made, versus when the film that got made set out to be rated R. Much like Deadpool, which was a purposeful attempt at an R-rated superhero movie, Sausage Party has just the right amount of forced sex jokes and crude language you’d except from a purposeful attempt at an R-rated animation. Does that make it dreadful? Not necessarily. But it does make it obvious.
Speaking of obvious, every character in the film is some sort of grocery store item and their gender seems to be determined by which ones are phallic and which ones look vaginal. The voice cast, as usual, is all stars and no voice actors but some of them do an ample job. Seth Rogen leads the film as a sausage who is brought from the supermarket to “The Great Beyond” (the average human home), and his co-stars include Johan Hill as yet another sausage, Kristen Wiig as a hot dog bun (get it?), Michael Cera, Craig Robinson, Paul Rudd (as one of the few human characters), Edward Norton, James Franco, Salma Hayek (as a taco shell that’s also a lesbian), Bill Hader in a dual role, Danny McBride, and Nick Kroll.
The plot, naturally, is that all the items come to the realization that The Great Beyond isn’t all that great and that a fate of getting eaten, or worse, awaits them. There are some laughs and sparse moments of cleverness throughout the movie but nothing about it wowed me the way it has evidently wowed movie-goers. I got a good chortle out of watching these guys gaze in horror as their friends got turned into dinner, though not only did the shtick seem familiar to me, but it also would have worked better as a short sketch on YouTube. Even the mind-screw ending reminded me of certain parts from The Lego Movie.
The film was directed by Greg Tiernan with a little help from Dreamworks’ own Conrad Vernon. The writing was done by the likes of Rogen himself and his good friend Evan Goldberg, which goes without saying if you’ve seen any of their other films prior to this one. They’ve had some legitimately great and smart films, but you can always tell that they love to throw in their tittyfuck jokes and drug humor when they concur that it’s getting a little slow. When you get used to the formula, you kinda stop being impressed.
Certain jokes are Foodfight-level food product puns except dirtier (somehow). There’s also the occasional “douche” pun in the form of a character who is a douche both literally and figuratively. If you don’t get it, in spite of the fact that even the most toddling of toddlers would, then don’t worry – the joke goes on for a while. There is also music, and whenever it’s not “whatever the kids are listening to on the Spotifies these days”, it’s a score by Alan Menken. Your guess is as good as mine, dear reader.
Although the animation isn’t technically anything remarkable, it’s worth mentioning that almost half of the animators weren’t paid for their work. As I’m writing this, they’re even looking to take one of the production companies, Nitrogen Studios Canada, to court for wage theft. When a movie gets made under such inexcusable circumstances, it’s hard for me to be appreciative of it. And independent of this unhappy behind-the-scenes fact, the film still ain’t especially great. I’m rating it 2.5/5 douches.
Many of the left-leaning film critics I follow on Twitter recently commented on how enraging it is that the same sexist man-kids who tore apart the new Ghostbusters movie are now praising Sausage Party for pretty much the same factors (low-brow comedy, predictable zingers, you name it). They’ll no doubt be pleased to learn that I dislike both films and even find Sausage Party to be a little bit worse. Not that they’re reading this (alternatively: not that they continued if they started this paragraph).
At least Rogen and Goldberg and the rest of the crew can rest easy knowing they made the world’s first animated feature film that isn’t meant for kids. Except for the South Park movie, Heavy Metal, Waltz with Bashir, Anomalisa, Mary & Max, Down and Dirty Duck, Fritz the Cat, and The Killing Joke, which came out just a few weeks before Sausage Party even. But other than that, though…