I have been working as a film journalist since 2010, dividing the first four years between radio broadcasting and entertainment writing in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. In 2014, I entered Fresh Fiction (FreshFiction.tv) as the features editor. The following year, I stepped into the film critic position at the Denton Record-Chronicle, a daily North Texas print publication. My time is dedicated to writing theatrical film reviews, at-home entertainment columns, and conducting interviews with on-screen talent and filmmakers, as well as hosting a podcast devoted to genre filmmaking (called My Bloody Podcast). I've been married for seven happy years, and I have one son who is all about dinosaurs just like his dad.
The biggest film of Day 4 came from a special “work-in-progress” screening of SAUSAGE PARTY, Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg’s R-rated animated tale. It centers on a group of supermarket items who go on an adventure of self-discovery after falling out of a store cart.
Everything about this film screamed ridiculous, but that fun kind of ridiculous. Rogen and Goldberg have shown much skill in that department, with penned comedies such as SUPERBAD and PINEAPPLE EXPRESS. Those movies were, of course, crass, but they left a sting with their satirical wit, quotable dialogue and fun characters (primarily PINEAPPLE EXPRESS).
After a string of mixed-received films, including THIS IS THE END and THE INTERVIEW, Rogen and Goldberg took on the challenge of a whole new medium: animation. However, SXSW audiences still felt split with their thoughts.
Before the duo commenced the movie, they warned audiences that it was a work-in-progress in the purest form. “You are the only audience that will see this cut of the film,” quipped Rogen. “There are scenes that are literally penciled drawings.”
Admittedly, it was odd watching a film so unfinished, especially the film’s opening that featured the entire grocery store breaking out into song. The animation for a defensive driving video comes to mind, but audiences laughed at the film’s lack of polish and it made it all the more an interesting experience.
The incompleteness was the least of this film’s problems, however. It just might own the title as the most offensive movie of all-time. While on one hand you admire that Rogen and Goldberg come balls out with this film, it doesn’t help in your digestion of the material.
Knowing Rogen and Co., you have to expect some moments to push your buttons. I mean, this movie has a hot dog, a bun and a donut amongst its main characters– you are gonna be shocked by something.
That being said, sensitive material can be done tastefully, and SAUSAGE PARTY lets loose with no real meaning, other than the fact these talents wanted to take their schtick to a new setting.
If you’ve seen the trailer, which dropped last night after the film premiered (watch its NSFW trailer here), you probably chuckled at the sequence showing the store-bought items cheering to be used for something good to only find out there are going to be savagely murdered. It’s the film’s most humorous scene, next to a D-Day reference when the items fall out of a basket.
The setup and concept of the movie is a great palette for the filmmakers to work with. Like TOY STORY, ZOOTOPIA and the upcoming SECRET LIFE OF PETS, there is so much imagination to be had in the world that is created. It’s just a shame SAUSAGE PARTY abandons it to tell the same old jokes.
But thankfully, Rogen and Goldberg redeem themselves with another project that also premiered yesterday.
AMC screened their upcoming series PREACHER for 1,200 SXSW audience members to overwhelmingly positive acclaim ahead of its May 22nd premiere. The 10-episode first season was developed by Rogen, Goldberg and Steve Dillion with Dominic Cooper starring as the titular preacher Jesse Custer.
Rogen and Goldberg explained that “this is a passion project that has been in the pipeline for a decade,” their visual prowess captures the barren west Texas landscape complete with quirky characters and a potentially career making performance from Cooper. Keep in mind the audience was only able to see the pilot, but reactions throughout the episode were filled with laughs, and shrieks when the gore kicked into high gear.
PREACHER is teed up to be a surefire hit for AMC and it appeared on Twitter that fans of the DC comic book were pleased with what they saw.
On the smaller screen was MORRIS FROM AMERICA and THE ALCHEMIST COOKBOOK.
MORRIS FROM AMERICA is a moving film about a father (Craig Robinson) who moves from the U.S. to Germany with his rap-loving 13-year-old son (Markees Christmas).
A24 hasn’t had many false steps in their run. With titles such as EX MACHINA and ROOM attached to their name, they are a force to be reckoned with. MORRIS FROM AMERICA continues to solidify their cinematic athleticism.
Michigan based filmmaker Joel Potrykus crushed it two years ago at SXSW with his feature length debut, BUZZARD, about a misanthropic petty criminal who is troubled, but somehow a sympathetic character.
This year, he brought THE ALCHEMIST COOKBOOK, which is screening in the experimental “Visions” section of SXSW. The film follows a similar character named Sean (Ty Hickson) who runs away to a secluded cabin at least 1.5 hours outside of civilization to obsessively mix dangerous chemicals with his car, Caspar.
Hickson gives a transformative performance, but Potrykus doesn’t want to leave very few breadcrumbs into cause of madness for his lead character. Creatively shot in a wooded landscape gives a nightmarish look at how getting constantly trapped in your own bubble can lead to dangerous consequences.
More to come from SXSW in the coming days.
This article was collectively written by Preston Barta and James Cole Clay.