A short story: back in my formative years, I had a lot of trouble throwing things away; basically, I was a hoarder. It extended to everything – old books, tests/quizzes, homework, pictures – you name it. It’s funny looking back on it now, because back when I was 7, 8, even 9 years old, I truly believed that everything, even inanimate objects, had feelings. I remember telling my mother once that if I threw away that crumpled up piece of paper, “it was going to cry.” I had a similar experience when my grandmother told me to throw my old piece of gum out the window of my mother’s moving car. “But the gum is going to cry!” That was my desperate wail as I stubbornly stuffed that old piece of gum in my pocket. Naturally, a couple of years later, I snapped out of that odd phase of my childhood. Enter Seth Rogen’s CGI-animated comedy romp SAUSAGE PARTY, a film whose premise instantly brought me back to that “everything has feelings” time of my life. And after watching this incredibly stupid film, I just can’t help but look back at 9 year old me and chuckle.
Co-directed by Conrad Vernon and Greg Tiernan, SAUSAGE PARTY is the brainchild of Seth Rogen, who once posited the question, “what would it be like if our food had feelings?” While it’s certainly a question I can’t imagine any sober adult asking, it actually does create an interesting premise. Rogen voices Frank, our main protagonist – a sausage who lives at Shopwell’s (a supermarket) and dreams of being taken by the gods (a.k.a. bought by humans) to the “great beyond” with his hot dog bun girlfriend, Brenda (voiced by Kristen Wiig). Little does Frank – or any of the other residents of Shopwell’s – know what truly awaits them once they are chosen by the gods. Other voice talents include Michael Cera as Barry, a deformed sausage and Frank’s friend, Jonah Hill as Carl, another fellow sausage, Bill Hader as Firewater, an old bottle of liquor and the wise sage of the supermarket, Paul Rudd as Darren, the Shopwell’s store manager, Danny McBride as Honey Mustard, a jar of (you guessed it) honey mustard who knows the terrible truth about the great beyond, and Nick Kroll as Douche, the main antagonist of the film. (And just so we’re clear – Douche isn’t just a name, he’s an actual douche; just wanted to put that out there).
Earlier on, I described this film as “incredibly stupid.” While I stand by that comment 100%, it’s not an insult. On the contrary, the sheer stupidity of everything involved in SAUSAGE PARTY is part of what makes it so effective. The downside to that, unfortunately, is how easily it allows its detractors to simply write it off as another dumb movie not worth anyone’s time. But what’s interesting is how the film seems to relish so much in its absurdity that it doesn’t care what its detractors say. This is a film that knows its audience, and as a result, tries to one-up itself during every step of the journey, hoping to catch the audience off-guard with another hilarious one-liner or visual gag. The success rate is about 50/50, but you’ve got to admire a film that dares to take the risks that it does.
Throughout the film, much is made about the “great beyond” fairy tale that it becomes its central theme, one of individuality and being true to oneself and one’s own personality, dreams, and desires. You can certainly see this as a sort of atheist slant against organized religion, but the film is very careful not to so much lecture its audience but to provide a different viewpoint, not just on religion but on every other aspect of life. It’s all about being able to think for yourself. And in a 90-minute film filled with every possible sex joke, food pun, curse word, and simulated sex act, to find a message like that and have it truly stand out and make the film unique – that, in my opinion, is the beauty of the film medium.
I’ve got to be honest, I came out of the film with a very lukewarm reception. It wasn’t until I really started thinking about the film that I discovered the greatness lying underneath the surface of childish smut. But a word of warning – if you do decide to partake in SAUSAGE PARTY, this is a film not for the easily offended. Rogen and company’s brand of humor is on full display here and, dare I say, turned up to the extreme. That means swearing, that means sex jokes, that means stereotyping. And brace yourself for that final scene (those who have seen the film know exactly what I’m referring to), as it will certainly test you. In fact, my initial beef with the film had to do with the over-the-top nature of that scene. But if you do decide to give the film a chance, like I stated above, there is something quite fascinating about watching the calamity and chaos ensue, and realizing by the end that this film has quite a lot to say.
The other takeaway from this film is how, despite its stupidity, it’s able to make you roar with laughter. Like I mentioned above, the joke success rate is about 50/50, but when a joke works, IT WORKS, and it will have you rolling on the aisle laughing. The most successful scene is the one showcased in the trailer, of the food arriving at their new home, only to be completely butchered and eaten. I can only imagine 9 year old me watching that and crying for the poor baby carrots viciously killed. But there are a few gems throughout the film that work just as well, including a climactic joke that turns the term “meta” on its head.
Is it stupid? Yeah, it is. Is it smutty? Of course. Will you be offended? Most likely. But is it absolutely hilarious? You bet! So to anyone who is on the fence about this film, I say SEE IT. Give it a chance. You might be pleasantly surprised.