Directed by Greg Teiran, Conrad Vernon
Starring Seth Rogen, Kirsten Wiig, Jonah Hill, Edward Norton.
A few weeks ago I made the statement that Swiss Army Man was the strangest film I had seen this year… by far. Apparently the universe took this as a challenge, and sent Sausage Party.
I’m sorry universe. I did not mean to belittle your capacity for infinite wonder and infinite diversity.
We cool, right?
Seth Rogen and crew (the same writing team responsible for This Is The End and The Night Before) have developed a film that is going to wildly divide audiences. One that is so gonzo as to leave no middle ground. Not merely content in burning bridges, it stands on the other side hurling abuse while masturbating over a picture of your mother. By the end you walk out of the cinema in shock, wondering what you have just seen – and if you are a little odd, questioning why you have enjoyed yourself. Sausage Party is a deeply strange film. Crude, rude and disquieting, but beneath that, one with intelligence and appeal.
Frank the sausage (Seth Rogen) has always obeyed the rules; stayed inside the package, and remained fresh. All in the hope that one day he will be chosen by the Gods to go to the great beyond. There he will finally be able to get inside Brenda’s (Kirsten Wiig) bun, and they can know bliss for eternity. However when a horrific trolley crash derails their plans, Frank and Brenda find themselves out of their package and faced with an awful knowledge that all they have believed may have been a lie. Pursued by a vengeful douche (yes, an actual douche – voiced by Nick Kroll), Frank must uncover the nightmarish truth of what food is to people.
This is a heck of a ride. Sausage Party is a disorientating experience, lurching from cute cartoon, to gross out comedy, to political satire, to full on horror show, at a moments notice. Its rapid pacing and whiplash tonal shifts keep the audience deliberately off balance, in a perpetually punch-drunk state. In never quiet allowing the audience to acclimatise to the bizarre style, Sausage Party remains fresh and bold throughout its frantic run time. It is right in your face, and that is where it means to be, and where it stays, as it tells its odd tale that is like some nightmare combination of Toy Story and Soylent Green.
There is no doubt that this is a film that will rile the moral minority. It is festooned with inappropriate humour, drug references, and graphic sex and violence, delivered at an unrelenting pace. It goes out of its way to be offensive, and many people are going to take up that call. Which is fine, because if they weren’t so deeply offended by that they would look beneath the surface at its strident atheistic message. This film sticks with the narrative of religion as an opiate of the masses. A device made for servile control, that blinds us from the ultimate nihilistic nature of the universe, and one that has lead to division and sectarian violence. In that vein it goes the full Captain James T Kirk, kicking in the doors of the church and screaming that “your bible is a lie!”
Yet it doesn’t abdicate personal responsibility either, as in amongst this is the opposition of the Douche, a full on ‘roid raging Randian self-created monster, feasting on others to grant him personal strength, as he seeks revenge on Frank. Ultimately Sausage Party is strangely Utopian in its message, looking at collective responsibility while respecting the individual, celebrated in its bizarre “everything is permitted” ending. Heady stuff, from a film that is extensively an extended dick joke directed by the directors responsible for Shrek 2 and an awful lot of Thomas the Tank Engine.
It’s hard to imagine how the writing room actually saw through the clouds of smoke to type on the keyboard, but it is satisfying to see Seth Rogen is getting good use from his “Glaucoma medication”. This is certainly not a film for everyone (and certainly not kids), but if you can handle the crude humour, the distinctively ugly art style (slightly reminiscent of Crumb) and the disquieting tone – there is a lot more to Sausage Party than meets the eye.