Sausage Party – Review (****)

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You have never seen anything like this. Sausage Party is the latest collaboration from the Seth Rogen-Evan Goldberg brain-trust, and while sure to offend as many as (if not more than) it entertains, this R-rated animated romp manages to push the envelope to uncharted (and arguably unwarranted) territory while serving up unexpected smarts.

A sausage named Frank (Seth Rogen) resides in a supermarket with his fellow fellow food stuff pals, including the love of his life, a fulsome bun by the name of Brenda (Kristen Wiig). With the Fourth of July weekend fast approaching, they believe that upon being purchased by humans (who they refer to as Gods), they will ascend to the Great Beyond, an idyllic afterlife where Frank and Brenda can live together happily ever after. Once they learn the horrifying truth, however, they stage a last stand to avoid being devoured by the insatiable Gods.

Pixar’s finest efforts are universally lauded for their ability to tap into a higher, adult realm of understanding all while remaining child-appropriate, and while that’s clearly one of Rogen’s most potent targets for satire here, what’s most surprising is that the human allegory is itself jarringly effective on a thoroughly unironic level.

Sausage Party is, at its core, a bite-back at religion, chiefly the Israel-Palestine conflict (realised here by a cantankerous lavash voiced by David Krumholtz and a Woody Allen-inspired bagel by Edward Norton), while also mocking the absurd essence at the center of so many theological beliefs; a fear of death. In much the same way that Woody, Buzz and co. staring down the incinerator in Toy Story 3 reflected our own conveyor belt towards the abyss, Sausage Party confronts that inevitability with its own kind of thoughtfulness…just with more dick jokes.

Even Rogen himself might admit that Sausage Party is crudeness for its own sake after a point, but given how much of a novelty this is in the animated sphere, he largely gets away with it. Yes, not every F-bomb lands and the food puns may verge on overkill for some, but the sum of these parts is a film keen to firebomb studio-mandated banality while touting a welcome – if not necessarily unique – view of secular inclusiveness.

The film’s second half in particular sees Rogen unleash his most ferociously hysterical instincts as a comic, constantly one-upping himself thanks to the surreal, dreamlike logic a movie of this type and form allows. It certainly doesn’t hurt that many of Rogen’s usual pals (James Franco, Danny McBride, Michael Cera, and Jonah Hill to name just a few) are along for the ride in memorable supporting roles.

Spoiling even a pinch of what transpires in Sausage Party’s jaw-dropping final reel would amount to gross critical misconduct, but rest assured that it’s among the most unforgettably, ludicrously, hilariously excessive material committed to any cinema screen in recent memory.

Rogen and Goldberg may well have opened the floodgates for myriad inferior R-rated animations churned out by studios seeing nothing but dollar signs, but they crucially will have also smashed open a glass ceiling by proving beyond question that there is a huge audience for animation you wouldn’t dare take your little niece to. In a summer of beefed-up, overly safe blockbuster flops, here’s just the refreshing tonic we needed.

****

Sausage Party is in US cinemas now and UK cinemas September 2nd

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