Thursday, 11 August 2016

Sausage Party

(MA15+) ★★★★

Director: Greg Tiernan & Conrad Vernon.

Cast: (voices of) Seth Rogen, Kristen Wiig, Jonah Hill, Bill Hader, Michael Cera, James Franco, Danny McBride, Craig Robinson, Paul Rudd, Nick Kroll, David Krumholtz, Edward Norton, Salma Hayek.

No one knew what to expect at Elton's Oscar party.

LOOKING back at the incredible filmmaking technology unleashed by Pixar’s magnificent debut Toy Story in 1995, it's inevitable we would end up with something like Sausage Party.

In fact, it’s somewhat surprising it’s taken so long for someone to harness the power of computer animation to make a totally messed-up comedy for adults.

But here we are – two decades after Buzz and Woody saved the toy box, we have a film starring a supermarket full of sexed-up, drug-smoking, profanity-dropping groceries. And it’s fantastic.

Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen – the guys behind Superbad, Pineapple Express, and This Is the End – are the reprobates responsible for Sausage Party and it’s fair to say if you like their previous work, you’ll love this.

Rogen also voices the film’s star Frank, a hot dog who, like all food products at Shopwell’s Supermarket, desires to be “chosen” by one of the "gods" and taken through the checkouts to the Great Beyond that lies on the other side of the automatic doors.

But he starts to question his beliefs when a returned jar of honey mustard (McBride) starts trying to tell other foodstuffs what he saw in the Great Beyond, which leads Frank on a journey with his beloved bun Brenda (Wiig) to discover the truth about their so-called "gods".

There are many surprisingly elements to Sausage Party, not least of which is the fact it’s a swear-heavy parable about religion and the need to question baseless beliefs. While the film could have gotten away with simply being a brainless load of f-bombs and sex jokes, it instead uses its off-the-wall ideas and juvenile banter as tools to dig for extra layers of thematic depth.

It’s enough to make you overlook the many racial stereotypes because by the end you realise that was all part of the bigger picture and the plot’s undertones – it’s much easier to forgive a bagel and a lavash for sounding like Jewish and Muslim caricatures respectively when they are having cleverly disguised discussions about Israel and Palestine.

Another surprise is the ending.


Nothing you’ve ever witnessed in an MA15+ film can prepare you for the final 10 minutes of this movie. Let’s just leave it that, shall we?

In an era when many people are bemoaning the lack of genuinely funny comedies, Sausage Party hits its humour targets with refreshing regularity. Yes, it’s juvenile, potty-mouthed and obscene, but if your comedic predilections swing that way, it’s hilarious. It’s also as intelligent as it is dumb – for every innuendo or (admittedly funny) profanity, there is also a wicked food pun or sharp point to be made about the nature of belief.

Visually, the film is nothing special. It has a style all its own and it doesn’t look cheap and nasty, but it’s deceptively simple. Fortunately, it’s not trying to be a work of art. It offers no moments of visual splendour to match anything Pixar can muster (although seeing a meatloaf singing I Would Do Anything For Love comes close) but we’re talking about a cuss-laden movie starring talking frankfurters here.

A lot of success rides on the script, but it’s delivered by a top cast of Rogen regulars and a few bonus players. Norton’s voice is unrecognisable and excellent, same with Rudd, while Rogen, Wiig, Cera, Hader, McBride and Robinson all wring every possible laugh out of every line.

It’s unlikely to live on in the pantheon of “greatest comedies of all time”, but to a certain group of people – ie. the demographic that will laugh at the fact that in the credits Seth Rogen’s name appears on a docket next to the price 4.20 – this will be a cult classic, preferably watched in a double feature with Pineapple Express in a very hazy loungeroom that rarely has its curtains opened.

On just about every level, Sausage Party is a success. It achieves exactly what it sets out to do – to stir and occasionally shock you into laugh after laugh by flipping a typically family-friendly style of movie into something more suited to an older crowd. The fact that it’s a sharp fable about religion is just an added bonus.

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