I honestly don't know where to begin with Sausage Party. I really don't. I knocked out several versions of preamble meant to open up this review and still couldn't settle on anything, so I scrapped them all to just get right to the point.
Sausage Party is a movie that features an orgy sequence in which a sentient sausage "penetrates" a hot dog bun and passes through a bagel hole in order to perform fellatio on a lavash. It's a movie that sees an actual douche on a warpath to destroy the movie's heroes. It's a movie that shows you what every toilet paper roll, tampon, and discarded condom must feel like after they've been used by us.
It's a movie full of unbelievable sight gags, drug humor, and dumb puns. It's a movie that revels in sex, violence, and general absurdity, and dabbles in everything from goofy slapstick to pitch black humor. It's a movie in which no race, gender, religion, or sexual orientation is safe, as the only way to truly offend no one is by making sure to offend everyone.
On the surface, it's a complete perversion of, say, the type of Disney/Pixar movies it's clearly inspired by, and yet one that also attempts to retain the type of thematic depth that makes many of those films appealing to all ages underneath all its very R-rated humor. Despite its ever-increasing lunacy, Sausage Party repeatedly finds a way to comment on issues of faith and belief, sexual liberation, and more in a surprisingly engaging way, giving audience members something more to chew on between punchlines.
The characters in the film - that is, the various foods and other products lining the shelves of our local grocery store - believe in "The Great Beyond," a place beyond the doors to the mysterious outside world in which the Gods (us) "choose" to take them. It's a place where all their dreams are fulfilled, and where the Gods will protect and take care of them for their rest of their lives. Obviously, they're in for a rude awakening, and the film demonstrates that to hilarious effect in a sequence that had my theater in stitches.
The film uses that baseline of blind faith in a higher power and runs with it, and even though it tackles a number of social issues along the way - the aforementioned bagel and lavash, for instance, are clear stand-ins for the ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestine - its ultimate message is that we as a people are all in this together, regardless of what we as individuals choose to believe in or who we fall in love with. It pokes fun at everyone without ever really condemning anyone for what they believe in, instead suggesting how much better off we all would be if we all could just set aside our trivial differences to deal with things that really matter, and in the end that message is what arms the film with surprising heart.
That said, to find that message means cutting through all the jokes, and it is through the comedy that the film will sink or swim for every viewer no matter what else it has to say. If you're a fan of the cast, which features Seth Rogen, Kristen Wiig, Michael Cera, Jonah Hill, Bill Hader, James Franco, Danny McBride, Paul Rudd, Edward Norton, Salma Hayek, and so many more - some instantly recognizable, others not - it's hard to imagine you won't get a kick out of this movie, since it seems like a natural extension of films that many of them have teamed up in before.
Personally, I laughed and I cringed equally. My eyes rolled as many times as my jaw dropped at some of the things I bore witness to. It's at once intentionally crass and dumb and surprisingly philosophical without being preachy. Some jokes that didn't land with me landed with the audience I was with and vice versa, but that only goes to prove how wonderfully subjective - above all other genres, in my opinion - comedy can be (and how hard it is to review it). It's a film that I can't believe exists, but its very existence is such a risk that I can appreciate it even if I never sit through it again.
If you're not a fan of the cast, and, perhaps, haven't found any of the film's various trailers appealing, then the film most likely won't click with you. Sausage Party has been very clear about the type of film it is, and it unapologetically embraces its R rating full-on. It's one of those rides you either know you're going to enjoy or not before you get on, and I'd suggest that if you're not already into it via its marketing or the positive word-of-mouth it's already received, you should probably just stay away. But if you're in the mood to see a blink-or-miss-it shot of a mushroom performing oral on a turnip, then you'll undoubtedly get your money's worth.
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