“Sausage Party” is a brash, crude, and at times offensive comedy about anthropomorphised food finding out that their Gods don’t love them and they’re destined to die. It sounds bleak and maybe a tad crazy, but I loved it nonetheless.
A lot of audience members will leave the theatre after watching this movie and feel more than a little perplexed – they’ll wonder what on earth they just watched and question why it was ever made in the first place. However, on the flip side of that coin there are people like me who relish comedies that push boundaries and cater towards a specific audience with confidence and without restriction.
“Sausage Party” doesn’t censor itself at any point, and for that I commend everyone involved. Not because they’ve made a bold decision to forsake convention for the sake of artistic expression, because to even suggest that would be ridiculous, but because they just don’t care what other people think – they make movies that they would want to see; nothing more, nothing less. They know that there’s a fan base out there that will appreciate their style of comedy, and they also know that the voice cast is strong enough to entice a wider audience to park their bums on seats, so they can basically do whatever they want. This can only be a good thing, because although there’s a chance of failure in the short term there’s also a safety net which allows everyone involved in the creative process to take risks and make movies that we haven’t seen a dozen iterations of before.
Moreover, for what it’s worth I don’t think that “Sausage Party” does anything particularly outrageous. The characters involved drop F-bombs like there’s no tomorrow, but that’s nothing new, and although they end up having an orgy towards the end it’s not exactly abhorrent. The characters don’t even have visible genitals so the sex scenes can hardly be called shocking!
Of course, I’d be lying if I said that this movie is completely innocent. “Sausage Party” unashamedly plays on stereotypes relating to religion, gender, and race, and it does so without remorse or restraint. But, it does this because the people making it don’t care whether or not you’re offended by cartoon potatoes!
Now, what I’ve written so far might seem slightly strange because it hasn’t necessarily been a review of the film so much as it’s been a defence of a certain style of comedy, but I suppose that what I’ve tried to do is address some of the criticisms that the movie has received in light of the fact that I feel very positive about it. So, with that in mind I should probably get on with addressing specific aspects of “Sausage Party” that I enjoyed, and others that I didn’t, so that you get a better feel for whether or not you’d be interested in watching it.
The first thing I’d like to point out is that the tone from the trailer is preserved, but at the same time the film doesn’t necessarily feel like an extension of the trailer. In the trailer various food products are excited about the prospect of leaving the store because they think that whatever is waiting for them is better than their current existence, but when they leave they find out that things are actually much worse, and many of them are consumed by their supposed saviour. This is basically the set-up for the movie and in fact the whole idea behind it, but the difference between the film as a whole and the slice that is cut out of it for the trailer is that the end product is pushing a message.
In essence “Sausage Party” is a fairly transparent critique of religion, or more specifically belief in a God, or gods, without proper evidence. It isn’t just a silly throwaway comedy, it’s a film that pushes an atheist perspective of human life and ultimately death on its audience, so watching it feels very different than you might expect going in. The religious critique that the movie presents is pretty obvious throughout, as the food has been lead to believe that life will undeniably be better once it exits the store despite the fact that it has no verification for that fact, just as the majority of religions profess that life after death will, in a sense, be better than life itself.
Each food product believes that their leaving the store will result in happiness, freedom, and ultimately the fulfilment of their desires, and they suppress their urges to please the gods (people) in service of this future, despite the fact that all there is waiting for them is death. Additionally, the gods that the food products worship are completely oblivious to their existence, and they’re happy to inflict pain on them as a result.
So, is this message a good or a bad thing (in my opinion)? I suppose that it could be interpreted as either depending on your perspective, and I think that whether or not the message ruins the film for you will depend on what you wanted going in. Personally, I liked the religious commentary in the movie and I was impressed with how often the writers managed to reference religion naturally through dialogue, but I don’t think that the film necessarily needed to focus on the religious subtext. It could’ve been entertaining without any mention of gods or The Great Beyond, and indeed there are people out there who would’ve been less offended and enjoyed the experience more had any mention of religion been omitted from the film, but I still enjoyed the way that “Sausage Party” put its message across.
As far as criticisms go, I have to say that I don’t have any huge complaints, but I did feel that one or two aspects of the movie were marginally off. The most annoying of these aspects was the inclusion of the Douche (voiced by Nick Kroll), who basically acted as an antagonist for the main characters within the store.
I understand why the writers wanted to have an antagonist in the film other than the entire human race, because it allowed them to create conflict within the store which in turn gave everyone a break from the movie’s themes, but to me it felt slightly heavy-handed in its execution. Every time that the Douche appeared on screen I lost interest because he was a very one-dimensional character, and I simply felt that the movie would’ve been better without him. It’s easy to say things like this in hindsight, but I feel that the movie would’ve been better as a whole if extra time had been spent with the characters that were killed in the trailer. I think the movie would’ve benefited from these characters being oblivious to their fate a little while longer, particularly if we saw them getting excited on the journey from the supermarket to the house.
To summarise, “Sausage Party” isn’t what I’d call a perfect film – there will be people out there who absolutely detest it – but right now it’s comfortably my favourite comedy of the year and also my favourite animated film. It wasn’t necessarily laugh out loud funny, which might seem like a strange thing to say about a comedy, but it was deceptively clever with well-designed characters and an engaging story.