Before you read:
This movie is rated R for language and sexually explicit themes. Therefore, the review will have mentions of this content. Make sure to read at your discretion.
Whenever I go watch a movie, I try to remain as open-minded as possible. Though preconceptions and public opinion are often hard to set aside, every movie deserves a respectfully blank slate from the start. It’s the least I can do as a critic, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy every time.
Especially when you’re reviewing a movie where foods are implied to have genitals.
Regardless, I couldn’t be too biased going into the film, so I placed the explicit advertisements and questionable leaked script (which I read beforehand with painful detail) aside. Settling into a comfortable chair and adjusting to the darkness, I waited for the movie to begin. The torrent website took a while to load, but my adamant refusal to give the movie money stifled my impatience.
Food comes to life in the Shopwell’s supermarket, where human customers are worshipped as gods. Once the products are bought, the shoppers will bring them into the Great Beyond where they can live happily for eternity. Among the foods is Frank, a sausage who dreams of living with his hot dog bun girlfriend, Brenda. On the fateful day when their packages are chosen together, a shaken Honey Mustard bottle in their cart claims to have seen from the Great Beyond and discovered the violent truth. Frank and Brenda accidentally slip out of their packages and must journey back to their shelf, as well as find out the truth behind the Great Beyond.
Sausage Party is a movie that tries to be three things at once – a colorfully animated cartoon, a raunchy adult comedy, and a modern social commentary on religion and politics. Coincidentally, these are the three areas where the movie doesn’t hold up.
The controversy* surrounding the mistreatment of the animation team aside, Sausage Party’s designs for the food are basic and heavily rely on either female sexualization or racial caricatures. The sausages’ simplistic M&M-like bodies clash with the hot dog buns’ voluptuous figure and doey (or dough-y) eyes. The fact that Brenda looks like a walking blow-up doll doesn’t help her case either, and her strange vertical mouth never settles well on the eyes. Meanwhile, the humans look like they were designed by an obscure political cartoonist who watched some Dreamworks movies. Even if the production team intended to parody Disney and other children’s animation companies, they made everyone either too bland, surreal, or grotesque for the film to be visually enjoyed like a fun cartoon.
The humor in Sausage Party can be summed up with one sentence: ‘Food says the f word’.** Now, this may get a chuckle out of you the first few times, but the novelty of animated cartoons in adult themes quickly wears thin. Any other jokes are largely centered on racism, sexism, and homophobia, rarely going further than well-known stereotypes. Even as a fan of wordplay, I found the food puns predictable and often already used. In other words, stale. At some points, I was too distracted by the questionable plot logic to notice the punchlines. If a potato is ‘killed’ when it is peeled and boiled, what makes a bag of potato chips just as sentient? Do the individual chips have life, or is the bag its own entity? If vegetables have as much life as tacos, then at what point in its existence does an object come to life? The ground? The kitchen? The shelf???
I’ll get an answer out of you eventually, Seth.
Lastly, the politics of this wiener fest aren’t as ‘shockingly sophisticated’ as some critics have exclaimed. The Jewish bagel and Arab lavash boil down the Israel-Palestine conflict to an insultingly basic aisle war, quickly resolved by the two products sharing the same space. Additionally, the foods’ devotion to a mystical afterlife is a take on organized religion. It can brainwash people and it’s bad, whines Sir Rogen as he looks up from his blunt. This has been done before – Monty Python’s Life of Brian, Religulous, and Jesus Camp are just a few examples of religious satire movies that criticize Christianity/religion. South Park has had a movie and 20 seasons using a child-like cartoon style to tackle controversial, adult issues. Compiling old ideas into a new, big budget movie doesn’t make it innovative.
In the end, my biggest criticism for Sausage Party is that it’s not original, clever, or remotely outstanding in quality. The animation is passable at most, the comedy is repetitive, and its morals are all too familiar to an adult audience. I’m sure some people can find themselves enjoying a mindlessly explicit movie like this one, but, based on my watching experience, this movie took more than it gave. Sausage Party is an item best left to rot on the shelf.
Side note: I wasn’t kidding when I said these characters had genitals. Truth be told, my eyes still hate me for enduring through scenes of literal food porn. Again, if you choose to sit through Rogen’s animated opus, view at your own discretion.
I Rate This:
2 Sausages Out Of 10
You Should Watch This If: You’ve run out of episodes in your Family Guy DVD collection (or if you have dollar bills burning holes in your wallet)
*After the film was released, it was made public that the animation team faced abysmal working conditions during production. One anonymous supervisor commented that animators were forced to work on unpaid overtime and threatened that they would be replaced if they didn’t stay late to meet deadlines. Many people left and were removed from the movie’s credits. Although IMDB lists 83 people under animation, only 47 got screen credit.
**Another option would be: ‘We’re straight white men who repeatedly profit off of mocking marginalized groups, but at least we’re daring and quirky!’