FILM REVIEW – SAUSAGE PARTY. With the voices of Seth Rogen, Kristen Wiig, Jonah Hill, Salma Hayek, Michael Cera. Written by Kyle Hunter & Ariel Shaffir & Seth Rogen & Evan Goldberg. Directed by Greg Tiernan, Conrad Vernon. Rated R for strong crude sexual content, pervasive language, and drug use. 89 minutes.
Let’s get the warning out of the way: FOLKS, THIS IS RATED R. Yes, it’s a cartoon about talking food, but do not bring the kids unless you intend to have a lot of interesting and embarrassing discussions on the way home.
Okay. SAUSAGE PARTY is the story of items at a supermarket who look forward to being purchased and going to the “Great Beyond.” Little do they know what is in store for them until one day a jar of honey mustard gets returned and tries to tell them the truth: they’re going to be eaten.
This sets in motion a journey in which Frank (voice of Seth Rogen who also worked on the script) and Brenda (Kristen Wiig)–a hot dog and a bun who are in love–try to find out whether the “gods” (i.e., the human shoppers) could really be so cruel. They are joined by an Arab Lavash (David Krumholtz) and a Jewish Bagel (Edward Norton), who argue over shelf space and hummus, and a Taco (Salma Hayek) who wants to put the moves on Brenda. Oh, and they’re being chased by a Douche (Nick Kroll).
Essentially this is a no-holds-barred grown up comedy with strong language, explicit sexual situations, drug use, and graphic violence. The violence is mostly directly at the food, but not entirely, particularly in the climactic battle at the store. It’s a movie where one might easily take offense at one thing or another unless one realizes that they are equal opportunity offenders, making fun of everyone and everything. Except for the fact that you may feel queasy going to the supermarket in the future, there are no bad side effects.
In a so-so summer at the movies, it’s the animated films that have turned out to be the real treats. “Sausage Party” is an original. While we’ve seen cartoons that imagine what toys (“Toy Story”) or animals (“The Secret Life of Pets”) do when the humans aren’t around, having sentient food learn its fate takes it to a whole other level. Indeed, the reason it works is that they keep upping the ante. Just when you think this surreal world can’t surprise you any longer, it comes up with something else that may make you gasp or wince but will most likely make you laugh.
For all its raunchiness, Rogen and company haven’t forgotten the jokes, a common failing of modern comedy. If you enjoyed movies like “South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut” and “Team America,” you will have a great time at this “Sausage Party.” And if you’re looking for something for the kids, there are several other cartoons out there that are perfectly appropriate and another one is coming next week. You’ve been warned.•••
Daniel M. Kimmel is a veteran movie critic and author of a host of film-related books. His most recent book is Shh! It’s a Secret: a novel about Aliens, Hollywood and the Bartender’s Guide. He lives in Somerville, Massachusetts.