You’ll never look at your groceries the same way again.
Sausage Party looks like what you’d get if everybody got high at a Pixar staff Christmas party and made a movie after the boss passed out. Created by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, the duo behind Pineapple Express, This is the End and most recently, The Interview, you go into Sausage Party expecting lots of filthy humour, and that’s exactly what you get.
But it’s not all you get. Rogen is the voice of Seth, the leader of a pack of hot dogs languishing on a store shelf waiting to be bought. He’s in love with Brenda (voiced by Kristen Wiig), a hot dog bun in a nearby pack. They’re both waiting for the day when someone comes along and buys them, hopefully together, and delivers them out of the Shopwells supermarket they call home and into the Great Beyond. Without giving away the plot, a rescue mission and a search for the truth lead the characters on the same sort of journey you find in other modern animated films with much lower F-bomb counts.
You learn early on that these characters have no idea what actually happens to food when it leaves the store. This sets up hilarious scenes like the one shown in the trailer, where a potato (with an Irish accent, naturally) is unloaded from the grocery bag at a woman’s home and then hand picked from the counter. The potato thinks he’s about to get his eternal reward, but the lady starts peeling his skin off and he starts screaming. If you’d told me the biggest laugh I would have in a theatre so far this year would be watching a potato get peeled, I wouldn’t have believed you.
I also didn’t expect Sausage Party to be so metaphorical. The Great Beyond is clearly a metaphor for heaven, and the ethnic origin of different types of food provides a wealth of material that skewers racial stereotypes and world politics. I won’t give away any of the jokes, but the interactions Edward Norton as Sammy Bagel Jr., and Kareem, a piece of flatbread voiced by David Krumholtz are not just very funny, they also provide incisive social commentary.
There are a few questionable choices. For example, the way one of the human characters is using a particular drug would almost certainly kill him. It’s a detail you’d expect proud stoners like these filmmakers to catch, so maybe it’s an error on the part of the character. Also, one of the film’s strengths is that most of the laughs are fairly timeless. You won’t find any Justin Beiber jokes or references specific to this year or even this decade, so many of these laughs will still be funny in ten or twenty years. Curiously, though, when the character Mr. Grits (voiced by Craig Robinson) is introduced, he says in name in a way that references Sidney Poitier’s famous line, “They call me Mr. Tibbs,” from In the Heat of the Night. That’s a fairly famous line, but that movie came out in 1970, and the reference will be lost on many.
But those are quibbling details, overall. The movie ends with a scene so funny and shocking that if you see this in theatres, it will test your comfort level just to be watching it in public with others. When the movie becomes available for rental and streaming, I wouldn’t be surprised if viral videos start popping up showing people’s unexpected reaction to what’s happening on screen.
Sausage Party is high satire disguised as lowbrow comedy.