James Cole Clay // Film Critic
Seth Rogen and his writing partner Evan Goldberg have been churning out hits together for years now — SUPERBAD, THIS IS THE END, THE INTERVIEW — and for good reason, they’ve been largely successful.
A couple years ago on Howard Stern, Rogen mentioned he was working on a ultra R-rated Pixar style comedy called SAUSAGE PARTY. It seemed improbable, but here we are two years later and SAUSAGE PARTY actually exists. For better or worse, it seems to be written by the mind of a middle-school kid– that’s not a criticism on the film, just a fact.
Essentially the movie is in the same vein as TOY STORY and THE SECRET LIFE OF PETS: it asks the question, “what if the food at the grocery store came to life?”
As the story goes, we follow a packaged hot dog named Frank (voiced by Rogen) and his seven other buddies, which includes a bully named Carl (Jonah Hill) and an adorable deformed hotdog named Barry (Michael Cera).
The plotting of this movie, however, doesn’t really matter, as SAUSAGE PARTY is all about the metaphor. Frank wants to slide into a bun named Brenda (Kristen Wiig), but all they are willing to do is “touch tips” in fear that “The Gods,” aka people, will banish them from an apparent utopia called the “Great Beyond.”
Aesthetically, the film is right on par with a Pixar film, enlisting SHREK 2 director Conrad Vernon and Greg Tiernan. They perfect the movement of the food: the sausages wiggle, the buns are busty, the bagels are mouthy and the colors are bright.
There’s bound to be one set of parents in the country who take their kids, despite the abundance of disclaimers in the marketing. Mr. Rogen and Mr. Goldberg have created by far one of the raunchiest movies, if not the dirtiest, to ever hit a wide theatrical release.
While the film is hilarious in the moment, the jokes don’t have much lasting power aside from the initial shock, and that’s not from lack of depth. Brilliantly, there is a scathing and quite poignant critique on religion, which has been prevalent throughout Rogen’s career. (Just take another look at THIS IS THE END; it’s clearly something that interests the multi-hyphenate star.) The food is constantly wondering if there’s life outside of the vast aisles of “Shops Wells,” but the only items to know the answer are the non-perishables consisting of Firewater (Bill Hader), a Twinkie named Twink (Scott Underwood) and Grits (Craig Robinson).
I’m sure you can guess that the foods are based off of racial and gender stereotypes. Teresa the taco (Salma Hayek) says it all. But everybody in the cast seems to be game for the outrageous and offensive style of humor. The anthropomorphic deli meats keep things fresh enough from reaching an expiration date, yet the wildly raucous food-orgy is just there for shock’s sake.
I’m all for pushing the boundaries of censorship at every turn, and maybe my expectations were a little too high, but it’s hard to shake a feeling of disappointment with the actual result. Rogen is still and will always hold a special place in the Mount Rushmore of 21st century comedy.
This drug infused frenzy is unlike anything you’ve seen before. The atmosphere back in March at the South by Southwest Film Festival had 1,100 people laughing uncontrollably, and by the end many, many people were offended at the aforementioned stereotypes.
While this review isn’t going to provide any answers or opinions on the matter, SAUSAGE PARTY is a testament that film can still be shocking. Rogen and Goldberg always go for shock and this film’s existence is proof that there’s value in that fact alone.
SAUSAGE PARTY opens nationwide today.