Over the last few years, two of the most popular cartoons on TV are Family Guy and South Park because we really haven’t advanced from 2005. But while they continue to get viewers for both their new and old episodes, that success hasn’t moved to the multiplex. Pretty much every animated film is aimed at children primarily, though many can be enjoyed by adults, with the odd exception including South Park‘s own movie. But surely if it works so well on TV, someone could make a funny animated film just for adults? Well that’s exactly what Sausage Party could be.
Frank (Seth Rogen, This Is The End) is just one of many sausages in a packet that is desperate to be picked by the Gods and leave for the Great Beyond. However when he does get picked, things start to go wrong as he gets knocked out of the trolley and when he realizes that things may not be as it seems, he goes on an adventure in the supermarket to find out the truth.
So in reality, this film is a rather subtle but brutal parody of Toy Story and many of the Pixar films that have a habit of anthromorphising non-living object. Looking at you Cars. Because let’s face it, when toys realize that being played with by children sucks as they get destroyed and as soon as the kid is bored with you, so in two weeks time, you’ll get tossed out into the trash, most wouldn’t get lucky like Andy and co and get passed to a rather nice new owner. Most would be angry before falling into the furnace, and this film imagines that sort of animated film. One where the anthromorphising objects are terrified and go nuts when they realize the truth, which is that we pick them to eat and kill them. Oh come on, that is not a spoiler. This is where the film’s best humour comes from, playing on this satire and making it is a dark as possible. Heck, to hammer this satire in they got Alen Menken, the man who wrote the music to Aladdin and the Little Mermaid, to write their signature song. It’s great.
However the other part of the humour does let the party down are the rude jokes, which is odd because they pretty much sold this film on those laughs. Basically, sausages are dicks and bread buns are vaginas. The writers then went nuts with this. Yeah, it is funny the first few times and sometimes they come up with a creative joke which will make you chuckle, but most of the time you sigh because these are the jokes a fratboy makes when he makes the rare trip to the meat aisle of a supermarket.
Of course that isn’t the only thing in this film, there is a whole cast of characters to enjoy. You’ve got Frank’s bread bun girlfriend Brenda (Kristen Wiig, The Martians), his malformed sausage brother Barry (Michael Cera, Juno) as well as a Muslim lavash named Kareem (David Krumholtz, Numb3rs) and a Jewish bagel named Sammy (Edward Norton, Fight Club). All of them are funny, with each one getting good lines and being good foils to the others when needed. Yes, the lavash and bagel are as stereotypical as they come, but I don’t feel either are insulting and there is a nice message there so I think its acceptable. They all have their own plots too which keep the film going so the quick pace doesn’t drop, and that means you are never bored.
But a particular highlight is the villain, Douche (Nick Kroll, The League). He is a douche who basically acts like a frat bro and when that joke clicks, embarrassingly long time for me, it does make you laugh. But he isn’t just a one-note villain and joke. Ok, he’s never sympathetic but he makes up for that by being a genuine threat as he eats other food and drink to give himself more strength. Plus he has my favourite running joke where he goes on a rant which has a common phrase which involves a food item, and said food item interrupts asking if he’s talking to him. Yes it’s very simple, but it never failed to get a laugh.
However the film does have a weak ending which leaves a sour taste in the mouth. After a rather funny climax which goes with its Disney/Pixar dark parody themes, it gets very weird in its keenness to shock. I’m not spoiling it here, but the following scene isn’t really funny and is also way too long, like a Family Guy joke on steroids. And then it gets very meta because it wants to set up a sequel which is slowly becoming one of my pet peeves in modern cinema. As my mother would say, finish the meal you are eating now before moving onto your next one.
In year full of weak comedies such as Dad’s Army, Grimsby and (shudders) Dirty Grandpa, it’s nice to get a good one that regularly makes me laugh, despite a bit of an over reliance on rude and shocking humor. Most of the time, its characters are a delight and I think we’ve always needed a dark take on the cute and cuddly stories that Disney give us. And for this to come from Seth Rogen, a man I wrote off a few months ago, makes it even better. Bon Appetit!