Initially, I wasn’t sure how much I was going to enjoy Sausage Party, the animation-for-adults feature from the minds of Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, the team behind the likes of Superbad, This is the End, and similarly foul-mouthed comedies.
The idea of a grocery store full of anthropomorphic food is clever enough, and the world building is strong—the various goods and sundries wait to be chosen, taken to the “great beyond” by the Gods, AKA average everyday shoppers. But outside of this, the early going isn’t great. Amusing in spurts, what we get is primarily rehashed dick jokes and all-too-obvious food-based sexual innuendo. This only goes so far.
Add to this the creative team’s propensity for thinking, “We’re so woke and down we can be as offensive as we want.” Which, in this case, manifests itself in a parade of stereotypes—Bill Hader plays Firewater, a Native American whiskey, while Salma Hayek voices Teresa, a taco. More than anything, this plays tired and pointless. It’s not edgy or boundary pushing or transgressive—it’s nowhere near as radical as the movie thinks it is—and this honestly comes across toothless and all too familiar.
Sausage Party splashes around in this end of the pool for a while, relying on little more than the audience reacting, “Holy shit, that sausage and bun are talkin’ about fucking, that’s hilarious.” It’s mildly humorous at best; fine, but nothing more. At worst, it’s tiresome and bland.
Fortunately for people sitting in the audience, around the middle of the movie, Sausage Party starts to live up to its potential, leaning on wit and cunning rather than dick jokes—don’t worry, the dick jokes still fly fast and furious, but they’re more inventive, less generic dick jokes. As sausage Frank (Seth Rogen) and his bun girlfriend Brenda (Kristen Wiig) make their way through the aisles of the supermarket, pursued by Douche (Nick Kroll, who played a character named The Douche on Parks and Recreation), the film even sprinkles in adroit bits of social commentary now and again.
With Sammy the bagel (Edward Norton) and Lavash (David Krumholtz), they touch on tension in the Middle East, and with Teresa and Tequila (also Bill Hader), they broach the subject of immigration. (Firewater remains cringeworthy throughout.) After spinning its wheels for a while, Sausage Party finally figures out what the hell it’s doing, what it wants to say, and makes use of the pieces in play. We’re not talking about a bastion of progressive ideas or anything like that, but it adds a bit of thematic density.
It also ups the fucking crazy exponentially, which is where it functions at its peak. A movie like this needs to be unhinged, and after farting around in familiar territory, Sausage Party truly lets loose and soars into lunacy by the end. Once the characters uncover the horrifying truth about the great beyond and their religion, thing really start to roll. We’re talking bath salts, beheadings, a full-scale food revolution, a debauched food orgy that’s one of the most bonkers montages I’ve ever encountered.
I wish it had found itself sooner, but while it takes too much time to gain traction, Sausage Party makes up for this oversight by the end, when it borders on profane genius. Is it something to sprint to the theater to see immediately? Probably not, but it’s pretty goddamn funny, especially if you’re a fan of cartoons saying and doing inappropriate things. [Grade: B]