Sausage Party follows in the tradition of so many animated films — either starting with or primarily popularized by Toy Story — wherein everyday objects are personified and an audience gets to take a glimpse of what their day-to-day world might look and feel like.
After taking that glimpse of the day-to-day world of living, breathing food stuffs, I can say that it’s fucking horrifying. That’s not just because of their collective sexual appetite, but also their extreme prejudice, religious zealotry, and frightening lust for blood.
It sounds like 2016’s most extreme (and extremely odd) horror film, but in fact, it’s probably the year’s strongest comedy so far.
Our “heroes” are Frank (voice of Seth Rogen), a sausage, and his girlfriend Brenda (Kristen Wiig), a bun. They can’t wait to be saved from the grocery store by the “Gods” (i.e. humans) who will take them home and love them and care for them forever. Also, being rescued by the Gods means Frank and Brenda can finally fuck each other senseless, so, yeah…
It’s “Red, White, and Blue Day,” which is wonderful for the sausages and buns, but as they’re about to be claimed by a God, all hell breaks loose. A rogue jar of honey mustard tells them that the Gods are evil. The stories and songs they’ve heard all their lives are lies, and going home with a God is tantamount to a death certificate. The cart spills. Frank and Brenda escape, while their friends, including Barry (voice of Michael Cera) and Carl (voice of Jonah Hill), all make it out of the store.
From there, Frank and Brenda go about trying to either prove or disprove everything they’ve ever known. In their company are a bagel named Sammy (voice of Edward Norton), a lavash named Kareem (voice of David Krumholtz), and a taco named Teresa (Salma Hayak). On their tail is a really angry douche, literally (voice of Nick Kroll). They come across the store’s unperishables — folks who’ve been around for decades — who give them the straight story over some kick-ass weed. It’s weird.
It’s incredible just how wrong Sausage Party gets at times. That’s not to say I ever felt uncomfortable with any of its humor in an ethical sense — whatever that says about me — but it did leave me totally slack-jawed for at least half the film’s running time. And just when you think the film can’t push the envelope any further, it goes over the ledge with a severed head (seriously) or massive and explicit food orgy (seriously).
Rogen and Evan Goldberg (the film’s screenwriters along with Ariel Shaffir and Kyle Hunter) also find time for a little moralizing in the midst of the madness. Theirs is a lesson in favor of increased tolerance and fact-based critical thinking that hit me harder in November 2016 than it might have earlier this year or really at any other point in my life for seemingly obvious political reasons. I appreciated that Sausage Party at least attempted something good and decent. It didn’t need to — it’s funny enough to be successful without that — but I welcomed the well-intentioned respite from violent deaths no matter how silly they’re portrayed.
Rogen has said he’d love to make a Sausage Party 2, and I’d love to see it. I asked in the wake of his This Is the End if he’s an auteur. This film certainly feeds that idea, and with each passing film — this being perhaps his best — I’m intrigued by his future for his creativity and potential growth as a filmmaker as much as I am his ability to just destroy me with humor.