DIR: Greg Tiernan, Conrad Vernon • WRI: Kyle Hunter, Ariel Shaffir, Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg • PRO: Megan Ellison, Evan Goldberg, Seth Rogen, Conrad Vernon • ED: Kevin Pavlovic • DES: Kyle McQueen • MUS: Christopher Lennertz, Alan Menken • CAST: Seth Rogen, Kristen Wiig, Jonah Hill
Sausage Party has been a long time coming – and when early clips dropped last year, it hinted at an irreverent and hilarious parody of Pixar, Disney and the saccharine stories told via animation to our children. For the most part, it does what it said it would – lampooning silly songs, unlikely friendships and introducing sexually active foodstuffs. But the trailer was so relentlessly smart, hilarious and wild that no movie could ever live up to that promise…
This is a pet project of Seth Rogan and Evan Goldberg – a partnership that has brought us some of the funniest movies of the past decade, most particularly 2013’s This is the End. Based on a story thought up by Rogan, Goldberg and Jonah Hill in a presumably smoke-filled room, Sausage Party tells the story of savvy supermarket-shelf dweller Frank (Seth Rogan as a talking frankfurter), his lady love Brenda Bunson (Kristen Wiig as the sexy hot-dog bun), and his package-friends Carl (Jonah Hill) and Barry (Michael Cera – a stumpy malformed frankfurter). Every morning they sing the song of the supermarket, praising the Gods (ordinary people) for selecting them and taking them to The Great Beyond, where all your dreams come true. However, when Honey Mustard (Danny McBride) gets picked for rapture, and returned to the shop following buyer’s remorse, he brings with him the horrific tale of what the Gods actually do with foodstuffs in The Great Beyond.
When Frank and Brenda are finally chosen, they’re ecstatic that they can now join together in hot-dog nirvana. But Honey Mustard’s panicked reaction in the trolley gets in the way, and they find themselves instead on a long journey across the supermarket to find their shelves again. They’re joined by Teresa del Taco (Salma Hayek as a lesbian taco shell), anxious Jewish carb Sammy Bagel Jr (Ed Norton) and volatile flatbread Kareem Abdul Lavash (David Krumholtz). Added to this unlikely mix is another victim of Honey Mustard’s panic – Douche (Nick Kroll getting typecast), who’s promise of a satisfying interaction with one particularly ample ‘God’ is cut short in the trolley frenzy. Douche blames Frank and Brenda for the loss of his true purpose in life, and hunts them through the market’s aisles, destroying everyone in his path. Seeking the truth of what really happens in The Great Beyond, Frank finds the non-perishable elders of the supermarket – a Native American bottle of liquor called Firewater (Bill Hader) and a box of grits names Mr. Grits (Craig Robinson). Will they tell him the secrets of what lies outside the doors? Will Frank find a way to escape his destiny? Will Brenda finally get to open her bun? All this and more, in a 90-minute manic escapade of craziness and colour!
It’s a testament to how good these guys’ previous films have been that Sausage Party just doesn’t quite cut the (honey) mustard. In fact – Seth Rogan, please take consolation from my not thinking this movie was funny enough… it’s because I know you can, and have seen you, do better! Cursing excessively doesn’t amount to comedy, there has to be underlying dialogue – it’s a fallback option, and smacks of laziness. There’s some decent commentary on organised religion, as well as the constant sexual innuendo you would expect when hot-dogs want to get with hot-dog buns, and while these raise a few laughs, the underlying intelligence of other comic parodies is missing.
Simply put, in a world where South Park exists, there are no prizes for second best when it comes to animated satire. With some very funny moments, and a few crazy setups, this is a good film. It’s just not a great film, and ends up being more of a Sausage Soiree than a Sausage Party.
16 (See IFCO for details)
Sausage Party is released 2nd September 2016