Sausage Party

**1/2

Reviewed by: Luke Shaw

Sausage Party
"If you’ve ever wanted to see a bagel and a lavash engaging in homosexual activity used as an argument for why Israel and Palestine should just y’know, smoke some weed and get on with each other, here’s your chance!"

There’s a lot to be said for a film that lays out its entire premise in both its title and the first five minutes of screen time. Sausage Party manages to be gauche, humorous, derivative, bold and clumsy within its first musical number. It lays out its intention in glorious technicolour buffet: this film is about sex, tone-deaf jokes about age old stereotypes, and talking food that believes leaving the supermarket gets it into veggie-heaven.

Seth Rogen and Kristen Wiig lead the film as Frank and Brenda, a cartoon hot dog and disturbingly sexualised bun respectively, whose desires extend as far as getting to the beyond and finally indulging in the sacred act of hot dog union. This is elaborated on in a number of ways until it becomes painfully unfunny, which is unfortunately the whole downfall of the film. Everything is played on until it becomes tedious - there are only so many food/sex euphemisms and stoner bro cusses that can carry a film.

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It’s lucky then that there are some more interesting ideas at play in the plot, which is sort of “how to be a compassionate atheist 101” as Frank learns from the elusive Firewater (Bill Hader) the truth of the great beyond (there isn’t one) and their gods (they eat foodpeople) and the whole song and dance that they perform in service of these ideas is a lie (concocted by the higher echelons of the non-perishables). Through this the film manages to string a fairly delicate if a little on the nose thread about the right way to try and educate people, even if it comes off a little righteous about the merits of Atheism vs Religion.

Sausage Party also excels in its visual humour, and it’s frequently tactile and gross in a way that betrays its low budget. But, given recent press about the animators not being paid what they were contracted for, it leaves a foul taste behind, much like the film's ultimate scene. It’s a no holds barred, how much of a prude are you, 120 days of sodom style orgy befitting the nihilistic conclusion of the film. If you’ve ever wanted to see a bagel and a lavash engaging in homosexual activity used as an argument for why Israel and Palestine should just y’know, smoke some weed and get on with each other, here’s your chance! It’s worth noting as well that the whole affair sets itself up for a sequel via some painful fourth wall breaking that feels incredibly tacked on.

What’s really surprising then is that somehow a large portion of the film just works, when it isn’t over egging its literal pudding. It’s not of the same pedigree as South Park or Team America, but the script is witty enough and the visual sequences are delirious if often a lit derivative. Along with the sourness of its underpaid animators, the constant overuse of dire racial stereotypes and endless cock and balls references, there’s just too much dragging this down to bargain bin fare.

Sausage Party might be spoiled goods, but there’s a more than just a morsel of goodness intact if you’re brave enough to eat around the off parts. After all, it’s hard to hate a film where the antagonist of the piece is literally a douche - it takes some amount of chutzpah to run with that loud of a clunker, and it’s one of the few times the writer’s “beat it until it works” philosophy really pays off. It’s just a shame that they couldn’t have worked out when to turn down the heat elsewhere.

Reviewed on: 30 Aug 2016
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A sausage tries to find meaning in the world as well as carnal knowledge.
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Angus Wolfe Murray **

Director: Greg Tiernan, Conrad Vernon

Writer: Kyle Hunter, Ariel Shaffir, Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg

Starring: Seth Rogen, Kristen Wiig, Jonah Hill, Michael Cera, Anders Holm, Paul Rudd, James Franco, Danny McBride. Lauren Miller-Rogen, Bill Hader, David Krumholtz, Edward Norton, Salma Hayek, Conrad Vernon

Year: 2016

Runtime: 89 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: US

Festivals:

SSFF 2016

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