Movie Review: Sausage Party

These aren’t your parents animated food products, but the one-joke premise of naughty hot dogs and buns soon wears thin

Sausage Party


Directed by Conrad Vernon, Greg Tiernan. Featuring the voices of James Franco, Jonah Hill, Kristen Wiig, Seth Rogen, Edward Norton, Salma Hayek, Paul Rudd, Bill Hader, Michael Cera, David Krumholtz, Danny McBride, Nick Kroll, Craig Robinson, Conrad Vernon, Sugar Lyn Beard. Written by Evan Goldberg, Seth Rogen, Kyle Hunter, Ariel Shaffir.

I’ve always wanted to see a Disney-style animated movie where all the talking anthropomorphized animal characters behave like, you know, animals, and stalk and kill and eat each other (one of my favorite shorts has always been the all-time classic Bambi Meets Godzilla). 

Sausage Party delivers something like that, and it’s undeniably a brilliant concept: what at first might seem like a happy-go-lucky children’s movie is almost immediately revealed to something else entirely as our heroes, a package full of talking sausages, unleashes a string of obscenities.

Now, I’m no prude, but the profanity wears thin pretty fast. It might be amusing to hear an animated character say things you’d never normally hear in a cartoon, but by the 200th F-bomb you’ve heard enough. There’s nothing behind it, no dirty jokes or profane wordplay, just a torrent of foul language that seems to permeate every line of dialogue.

Other adult-themed elements of the story, meanwhile, are (mostly) delivered with gusto. There’s a 30-second parody of Saving Private Ryan that left me in stitches, as a seemingly-minor (for us humans) food-related mishap unleashes devastating violence on the movie’s food-based characters.

Peeled bananas… Oreo cookies sliced in half… raspberry jam flowing out of a broken jar. The horror… the horror.

But along with the sex, violence, profanity, and expected (and endless) amount of food-based punnery, Sausage Party also doles out some surprisingly deep thematic material that serves as biting religious satire.

The food products in the movie break out into song every morning, hoping to be purchased by shoppers and taken to “the great beyond,” blissfully unaware of what terrors await them outside of the supermarket.

But while the filmmakers – including directors Greg Tiernan (Thomas & Friends) and Conrad Vernon (Shrek 2) and five credited writers including producers and co-stars Seth Rogen and Jonah Hill – are able to rattle off creative idea after creative idea, they struggle to bring them together into a compelling narrative.

Most of the film revolves around the journey of lead sausage Frank (voiced by Seth Rogen) across the supermarket to the frozen food section, leaving behind his loving bun (Kristin Wiig) with a lesbian taco (Salma Hayek), an Arab lavash (David Krumholtz), and a Jewish bagel (Edward Norton), who provide some groan-worthy commentary on Middle-Eastern relations.

Norton’s Woody Allen impersonation as Sammy the Bagel, by the way, is the almost worth the price of admission alone.

Then there’s a juiced-up douche (Nick Kroll) trying to get revenge on our heroes – yes, the villain of the movie is literally a douche – and Barry (Michael Cera), who survives the horrors of home life to try to make it back to the supermarket. His scenes with a druggie voiced by James Franco are among the most inventive in the movie.

Unfortunately, the rest of the story isn’t enough to carry a feature-length film, even one that clocks in at barely over 80 minutes minus credits. After the film cracks its one joke – animated characters behaving in ways they shouldn’t, which includes a climactic orgy that isn’t nearly as inventive or offensive as it ought to be – there’s little else of value here.

Cut-rate animation – 3D CGI that fails to craft a single memorable character – doesn’t help.

The red-band trailer for Sausage Party delivers the joke quite wonderfully. Sitting through the film proper, well, that’s a whole ‘nother story. 

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