Sausage Party Review: funny and existential

Above: Photo courtesy of Columbia Pictures Date Night | 10 Aug, 2016 |

Sausage Party is about sentient food items that discover the unfortunate truth of the human diet.

Sausage Party is an animated film featuring adorably brought to life foodstuffs — one that is also a hard-R, boundary shattering barrage of adult humor.

Once you find out that its writers are Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, the jokesters behind the self-aware apocalypse of This Is The End and the North Korea-bashing The Interview, you could be fairly sure that illicit drugs were involved in imagining up the strange film (and the duo would be proud of it).

Already the movie sounds like a high gone haywire, but the comedy shares one more similarity to the side effects of a bad trip: the existential crisis.

Sausage Party is a hilariously scathing condemnation of religion. And despite the face value nature of its message, it’s clever enough to work.

The animated inanity begins with the goods of a supermarket getting ready for a big day. They sing a song of exposition (one that should be nominated at the Oscars this year): the foods believe that humans are gods, and they must live morally and patiently until the gods choose them for a trip into “The Great Beyond” (past the checkout lines and out the doors). None of them have actually seen The Great Beyond, but that doesn’t stop them from blindly dedicating their lives to belief in it and creating arbitrary divisions over how they interpret such an afterlife.

It’s obvious straightaway what Rogen and Goldberg are trying to say about the state of the universe. Though what’s admirable is not necessarily the subtlety of Sausage Party’s subversion, but the fact that an animated movie about food — one that boasts a bouncy, fun art style — manages to offer a pointed opinion whatsoever.

Sausage Party meshes its ridiculous story with an indictment of blind belief to near-perfection. The movie’s comedy falls into two camps: shockingly profane, or extracting humor from the possible purposelessness and godlessness of life. At each method’s best, it’s side-splittingly hysterical. At worst, the profanity can wear thin.

The dialogue is as witty as it is raunchy: Rogen and Goldberg prompt many laughs by using innocent food as a conduit for inappropriate humor. Frank (Seth Rogen) is a sausage; his girlfriend (Kristen Wiig) a bun — and that’s just the tip of an astounding iceberg of sexual innuendo. We get incisive racial humor too: David Krumholtz voices an Arab lavash; Edward Norton a Jewish bagel (oh yeah, the cast is populated by great talents). Cue the amusing sacrilege.

In addition, Sausage Party has a lot to say about how religion encourages sexual repression and racial tension. As the foods’ journey leads them toward uncovering the dark truth, the sexual and racial humor combines with the social commentary and explodes into a jaw-droppingly over the top finale. It’s too extreme to publish a description of, and it’s the funniest thing I’ve seen in years so I shouldn’t give anything away. If you’re an adult, just go see it.

As brutal as Sausage Party is, it actually ends up more sweet than bitter. Rather than a mean-spirited argument, it’s a celebration of what we have to gain if we at least consider that our beliefs might be wrong. And what a hilarious celebration it is.

★★★★½ (4.5 out of 5)

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