Review: Sausage Party (2016)

Crimson Quill’s Appraisal #646

Number of Views: One
Release Date: August 12, 2016
Sub-Genre: Black Comedy
Country of Origin: United States, Canada
Budget: $19,000,000
Box Office: $140,700,000
Running Time: 89 minutes
Directors: Conrad Vernon, Greg Tiernan
Producers: Megan Ellison, Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg, Conrad Vernon
Screenplay: Kyle Hunter, Ariel Shaffir, Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg
Story: Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg, Jonah Hill
Score: Alan Menken, Christopher Lennertz
Editing: Kevin Pavlovic
Studios: Annapurna Pictures, Point Grey Pictures, Nitrogen Studios
Distributor: Columbia Pictures
Stars: Seth Rogen, Kristen Wiig, Michael Cera, James Franco, Bill Hader, Salma Hayek, Jonah Hill, Nick Kroll, David Krumholtz, Edward Norton, Craig Robinson, Danny McBride, Paul Rudd

Suggested Audio Snackbox 🌭

[1] Meat Loaf “I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That)”

[2] Alan Menken “The Great Beyond”

[3] The Everly Brothers “Danger Danger”

[4] Tito & Tarantula “Angry Cockroaches (Cucarachas Enojadas)”

[5] The Isley Brothers “It’s Your Thing”

Animated movies leave me stone cold. There I said it. When I was five-years-old, my mother took me to the cinema to watch Snow White & The Seven Dwarfs and I found it a magical and enriching experience. However, less than twelve months later, my father took me to the cinema to watch Jaws and my brief flirtation with animated movies drew to a swift and decisive close on that very day.

Perhaps I grew up too fast but it all seemed a little too powder puff to me and, over thirty years down the line, not a damn thing has changed. Technology has moved on considerably during the interim and 3D animation is becoming more intricate than ever. But there’s nothing for me here and I struggle to make it through any animated movie without desiring to gouge both my eyes out with a spoon.

It’s a massive industry and I’m quite aware that I’m in the minority here but, while I respect the hard work and skill that goes into making these features, it’s completely lost on me. That said, when a movie like Sausage Party comes along, with the likes of Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg and pals behind it, it’s time for me to face my fears and give the whole animation gig another shot. Their film is the first R-rated CGI animation to hit the multiplexes and, needless to say, isn’t the least bit appropriate for younger viewers.

I can only imagine parents’ faces when they mistakenly took their ankle-biters to see this on the big screen, only to be assaulted by F-bombs, excessive use of the C-word, and a vaginal douche who rapes a juice carton barely twenty minutes in. For the record, I had no idea what a douche was until I watched this movie, so I guess I should be sucking some wiener right now. If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em right?

Sausage Party introduces us to all manner of food groups courtesy of a supermarket called Shopwell’s which is where said grocery items spend their shelf lives, desperate to be chosen by the “Gods” and whisked away to the “Great Beyond”. Rumor has it that this idyllic nirvana is where dreams come true, where all lucky food stuffs selected are free to break free from their packaging and live a little.

The Fourth of July is fast approaching and this annual cook-out presents an opportunity for those deemed presentable enough to take their place in the shopping trolley of dreams and finally bust out of this oversized knocking shop once-and-for-all. Expectations are high, spirits soaring, and thousands upon thousands of perishable products are lined up ready for the anticipated free-for-all, screaming “pick me, pick me”. Actually, it’s more like “pick me, pick me motherfucker” but you get the general gist.

This is great news for sausage Frank (Seth Rogen) and his hot dog bun girlfriend, Brenda (Kristen Wiig) as they have been waiting patiently for some time to consummate their relationship and are ready to take things further than touching tips just to satisfy the aching in their loins. Frank’s vacuum packed buddies are similarly excited by the prospect of freedom although stunted chipolata Barry (Michael Cera) is a tad dubious over not quite measuring up to his pals.

However, what he lacks in inches, he more than makes up for in girth, and Frank is quick to remind him that there’ll be a battered bun out there somewhere for him to slide his stumpy length into. Nothing can rain on their parade and, as the first shopper of the day (the aptly named Camille Toh), tosses both Frank and Brenda’s food groups into her cart, it’s time to get this sausage party started.

Or so you’d think. You see, a mistakenly purchased jar of Bickle’s honey mustard (Danny McBride) has had first-hand experience of the “Great Beyond” and, according to his panic-stricken rants, it’s not quite the lush utopia they’ve been led to believe. It’s all been an elaborate ruse and things are only about to get worse as, after an almighty cart collision, Frank and Brenda are thrown from the wreckage, while their friends head off to the checkout and ultimately the great unknown.

To make matter worse, the supermarket’s manager Darren (Paul Rudd) will be doing his rounds at any moment to dispose of any spoiled items and they don’t call him the “Dark Lord” for nothing. And if that wasn’t bad enough, then they’ve also managed to inconvenience an iniquitous feminine hygiene product called Douche (Nick Kroll), leaving him with one bent nozzle and a damn good reason to plot his ghastly revenge.

Fortunately Frank’s not the kind of wiener to let the mould grow under his feet and takes Honey Mustard’s warning very seriously indeed. This means taking a trip to the liquor aisle to consult with an old and wise Native American and the leader of the immortal Non-Perishables named Firewater (Bill Hader) to get some answers and perhaps smoke a little weed as sausages tend to do when left to their own devices.

Not that he’s altogether alone as Frank and Brenda have made some fresh acquaintances in all the kerfuffle. The self-explanatory Sammy Bagel Jr. (an unrecognizable Edward Norton) and a far less self-explanatory Armenian flatbread called Kareem Abdul Lavash (David Krumholtz) are happy to tag along and Brenda has gained herself a new admirer to boot.

While waiting for Frank to smoke the pipe of wisdom and highness, she runs into a Mexican hotty by the name of Teresa del Taco (Salma Hayek) and it isn’t seasoned mince she’s looking to pack into her fast-saturating shell. Something else I learned from Sausage Party is that all female tacos are raging lesbians and highly skilled in the art of culinary-lingus.

At this point, I began to question the sudden rush of blood to my testicles as I’m fairly assured it’s not the done thing to lust over the idea of a folded tortilla and soft Frankfurter bun touching lips to Katy Perry’s I Kissed A Girl. But I’m only human after all and even the very best of us have food fetishes right?

It’s short stack Barry I feel sorry for as Honey Mustard’s stark warning has turned out to be very much correctamundo and the “Great Beyond” is nothing more than a grocery bloodbath waiting to happen. He manages to escape by the skin of his sausage and things appear to be on the up when he meets a pot-bellied druggie (James Franco) who is so high on bath salts that a conversation with a vertically challenged length of minced pork isn’t out of the question.

Can Barry find his way back to Shopwell’s in one piece? Will Frank ever get to slide his meat between Brenda’s tight little buns before their shelf life runs out? And can a douche ever again be trusted on Fallopian duties?

Sausage Party works its shrink-wrap off to provide us the answers we crave. That said, it often tries a little too hard to make its point and the first fifteen minutes are a perfect example of this. Featuring an absolute hailstorm of sexual innuendo and a torrent of cuss words, it’s excessively crass and vulgar when a slightly more delicate approach would have served it better.

While admittedly it settles into its rhythm soon enough, most of the laughs derive from sight gags and the script never really matches the enthusiasm. Granted, it has its moments, and I’m yet to find a universe where Craig Robinson isn’t side-splittingly hilarious on his default setting but even he isn’t used to his strengths here and 89 minutes feels longer than it should as a result of oversights like this.

Directors Conrad Vernon and Greg Tiernan certainly can’t be accused of slacking and pack as many ingredients as humanly possible into the mix in an attempt to strike some chords. They take a number of not so sly digs at religion, racist cliché, and the male population of New Jersey, while the keen film buffs amongst us will spot all manner of playful homages to the likes of Terminator 2: Judgement Day and Saving Private Ryan.

Hell, they even poke a little fun at Pixar, although curiously this and Toy Story aren’t actually a million miles apart in terms of narrative structure. Speaking of which, the animation is pretty much top-notch and nary a frame appears anything less than good enough to eat. So it occasionally tastes a little bland, there are still enough of our daily five catered for when all is said and done. Never have I felt closer to turnips than the moment when I witnessed one having his tip sucked and that’s progress for a self-confessed veggie hater.

Ultimately what a movie like Sausage Party needs most is a pre-watch reality check. Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg, and Jonah Hill came up with the story so that should set you up well with regards to what the hell to expect and I’m down with that dynamic every time, no question. Take This Is The End, set it down in a wok, bring it not altogether gently to the simmer, and season with randy vegetables and you’re in the right kitchen.

Fuck it, may as well throw a used condom and tampon in for good measure, although I’m not convinced they’re beetroot stains on the latter you know. And which one of you New Jersey wise guys invited the Sauerkraut?

I may have been a tad harsh on Sausage Party with regards to its numerous attempts at puerile frat boy humor but not since the infamous shunt scene from Brian Yuzna’s Society have I witnessed an orgy quite so utterly debauched as the one that finally breaks out in the final third and your reaction is likely to be either to bust a gut as I did or sit there slack-jawed at how low the bar of decency has plummeted.

We naturally assume that food is happy sitting patiently on a shelf while it gradually perishes but fail to spare a thought for how sexually frustrating this must be. Suddenly all that snide innuendo comes to a head and is lanced in the most literal of ways, culminating in the gang bang to end all gang bangs. Let’s just say you may never again wear a pearl necklace in public.

Sausage Party could never be accosted for false marketing as the label doesn’t lie and Vernon and Tiernan sure knows how to lay on a spread, let me tell you. It’s a far cry from perfect, trying way too hard in some areas and not nearly hard enough in others, but it’s also something of a one-off and the closest we have to a modern-day Jungle Burger, which makes for quite the flavorsome snack.

Whether it does enough to fill those bellies is open to debate but I’ll never look at fresh produce the same way again and that’s food for thought right there fellow binge-eaters. I could sit here and pick holes in this frolicsome feast until the broth bubbles but that would make me something of a douche. Actually, now that I know their true purpose, I can think of worse ways to go. 

Crimson Quill’s Judgement: 7/10

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Read This Is The End Appraisal
Read The Night Before Appraisal
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Richard Charles Stevens

Keeper of The Crimson Quill

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1 Comment

  1. Pretty much your assessment of this movie is how I felt when watching the trailer. You know what to expect. The usual cast of characters, the tired humor, it has nothing to do with the innuendos. We have just seen them too much anymore. Great review, Rich. I will skip this one!

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