By Charlotte Hollingsworth
Ain’t No Party like a Sausage Party
Rarely does a movie live up to its previews. But, due the raunchy, graphic, and violent content in Sausage Party (directed by Greg Tiernan and Conrad Vernon), the majority of the funniest parts could never have been included in previews. The number of expletives alone seems almost mystical, and even with a big Red Band on a trailer, you can’t get away with showing that much decapitation. But what that does in the movies favor is save up the biggest shocks and laughs for when you finally sit down to see it in the theater. Which you should.
I saw the movie at the Alamo Draft House in the adequately junky Mission District here in San Francisco. My date and I enjoyed many a sausage themed short film before the show, and the ambiance was just about perfect. Bunch of 20-30 somethings excited to see a hot dog say “fuck” on a big screen.
Armed with milkshakes and a belief in the possible, we were ready to let our eye holes embrace this ridiculous movie. Sausage Party starts off immediately letting you know that it’s not going to pull any punches. Within the first five minutes there are jokes about girth, religion, Hitler (hilariously represented by a jar of sauerkraut bent on eliminating the juice), and a full song and dance number. The colorful world is animated with the kind of glee you’d get when you let a fourteen-year-old boy loose at Pixar, each character carefully designed and yet kept simple and clean. The buns speak with their mouths sideways, meaning they are constantly reminding you that they are in fact giant vaginas, and yet somehow still express so much emotion.
The movie follows the adventures of a sausage named Frank (Seth Rogan, who co-wrote the film), his lady love who is a bun named Brenda (Kristin Wiig), Sammy Bagel Junior (Edward Norton), and Kareem Abdul Lavash (David Krumholtz), who are horrifically torn from a grocery cart and forced out in to the open super market to come to terms with the horror of their own existence. The immediate aftermath of the accident is like watching Platoon-as-directed-by-Tarantino, but with marshmallows. It’s horrific and hilarious in a way I could never have conceived of. They are mercilessly hunted by a douche named, well, The Douche (Nick Kroll) who is bent on revenge for his bent nozzle. Additionally, the idyllic peace of their mental states is harshly jarred by certain revelations regarding their Gods (us) and The Great Beyond (our kitchens). Outside the supermarket, brave but deformed sausage Barry (Michael Cera) discovers the horrifying truths of The Great Beyond in what might be one of the most cartoonish and gleeful massacre scenes ever created, and makes it his mission to get back to warn the others.
From large scale send ups, like the dangers of blind faith and the importance of self-actualization, to miniscule digs at everything from the Israel/Palestine conflict, homophobia, virginity, and weight lifting, Sausage Party packs each scene tightly with gags. And yet there is enough truth to each character, enough dignity offered to their causes, that you feel truly involved in their plight. Mid-way through the movie, my date and I ordered some macaroni and cheese because why not. After we ordered, though, it dawned on me that I had just witnessed what being eaten is like in graphic and shiny detail. I imagined my noodles each screaming in the shredded flesh of their brethren as I tore them in to pieces. Of course, once it arrived, I laughed and stuffed it in to my face, deciding that if I’m a devilish evil god then I may as well play the part.
Sausage Party is fun. It’s silly. It’s got a serious message about religion and faith. It has a not so serious message about consumerism and food. It’s far from perfect, though it actually does pass the Bechtel test (Brenda has a more than one conversation with Teresa Del Taco, who is a lesbian to great comedic effect without being derogatory) and does a good job of making fun of everyone equally without crossing lines that are unnecessary. That was surprising to me, given the foibles of movies from this group in the past (lest we forget the date rape in Observe and Report) but they kept this movie from going too far by continuing to up the stakes and push through plot without stopping too long to make dick jokes. There was one moment, when a drunken bottle of tequila tricks Brenda and her compatriots in to following him down a dark alley, where I got really afraid that the movie was going to make fun of something I wasn’t ready for it to do. But, almost as if knowing that’s what we expect, the movie sidelines to an entirely different road and left me relieved and delighted.
Overall I was impressed as hell. I was pleased beyond my expectation, I laughed so hard my gut hurt, and I’ll be quoting it for a while now. If you like trash, wit, and animation, I recommend it. And if you go on a date and your date laughs as much as you do, you’re both sick and should definitely hang out more.