Adventure Animation

'Sausage Party' Film Review: The secret, R-rated life of food

August 12, 2016Ben MK

Earlier this year, kids — and perhaps their parents — were treated to a family-friendly, CG-animated romp that showed them the kind of trouble our pets get into when we're not around. Now, it's the adults' turn. An R-rated answer to The Secret Life of Pets, Sausage Party teases a similar premise, only with food instead of four-legged critters. However, what it actually delivers ends up being much more satiating.

The story begins with sausages Frank (Seth Rogen), Carl (Jonah Hill) and Barry (Michael Cera), who are just three of the many food items that fill the countless aisles of Shopwell's supermarket, where the food begin every morning by breaking into joyful song. Oblivious to the fact that they are predestined for human consumption, they've been indoctrinated to believe that life beyond the store's shelves is where their wildest and wettest fantasies come true. And for Frank, that fantasy is to finally be inside his girlfriend, Brenda (Kristen Wiig), a hot dog bun.

Things begin to go south, however, when a jar of honey mustard (Danny McBride) is returned to the store. Traumatized by the unspeakable things he's seen on the outside, he tries to warn his fellow consumables of the horrors that await them after the checkout line. But it isn't long before Frank and his shelf-mates find out the truth for themselves, for when a shopping cart mishap ejects them from their packaging, they're forced to embark on a misadventure — one that will change not only their lives, but the lives of every food item at Shopwell's forever.

Directed by Greg Tiernan and Conrad Vernon, what follows is oftentimes rude, crude and vulgar, where every other word out of the characters' mouths seems like an obscenity, and where there's no shortage of toilet humor, racial stereotypes and jokes about culinary fornication. However, there's also plenty of thought-provoking subtext and surprisingly deep themes lurking in the script by Rogen and co-writers Kyle Hunter, Ariel Shaffir and Evan Goldberg, and you need not look far beyond the film's colorfully offensive facade to find it.

Basically, the whole grocery-wide belief in the wonders of "the Great Beyond" is one giant metaphor for modern-day religion, just as Frank's quest to uncover the truth about what awaits them on the other side of Shopwell's automatic entrance opens the door to questions about the nature of faith and God. Similarly, there's an overarching theme concerning the intolerance that exists between people of different faiths, which is most obviously represented in the tensions that arise between a Jewish bagel (Edward Norton) and a Palestinian lavash (David Krumholtz).

Of course, you don't have to invest a ton of brain-power into Sausage Party to be amused by its laugh-out-loud, subversive tone. Taken at face value, the movie is a literal orgy of food-and-sex-related puns, backed by a cast of comedy titans like Bill Hader, Nick Kroll and Craig Robinson. They voice their over-the-top characters with such gusto that every Pixar movie suddenly feels surprisingly dull. And in the end, everyone emerges a wiener.

Sausage Party releases August 12th, 2016 from Sony Pictures. The film has an MPAA rating of R for strong crude sexual content, pervasive language, and drug use. Its runtime is 1 Hr. 29 Mins.

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