By Lydia Geisel
I’d like to say that Sausage Party (2016) is one of those movies that’s so bad, it’s good. But, I’d be lying. It’s just…good.
Seth Rogen’s comic genius comes to a climax in this adults-only film that follows the journey of a brave hot dog who teams up with his fellow anthropomorphic supermarket products to escape their doomed fate in the checkout line. The story begins with Frank, an overly-optimistic hot dog who is originally a true believer in what the groceries call, “the great beyond.” Frank and his girlfriend, a bun named Brenda (voiced by Kristen Wiig), look forward to being chosen by the “gods” (shoppers) so they can shed their packaging and finally consummate their relationship outside of the store. But, after Frank and his best friend Barry get a glimpse of what life is like in the great beyond, panic ensues. From thereafter, the film is brimming with bloodshed, sexual innuendos, and ridiculously crude characters, from a lesbian taco (voiced by Salma Hayek) to a demonic douche.
(Still from Sausage Party (2016), Frank and Brenda in their packages talking about the “Great Beyond”)
For as sex-crazed and profane as Sausage Party is, there’s a lot to be said for the filmmaker’s take on consumer goods. In his article for The New York Times, A.O.Scott links the movie to Pixar pictures of the past, most notably, Toy Story. Scott notes, “The ‘Toy Story’ cycle takes the relationship between people and consumer goods to be essentially harmonious…people love their playthings, and the toys love us back.” Sausage Party brings to light worthwhile metaphysical questions about faith, death, and purpose, as Frank and his friends attempt to overthrow the humans in a store-wide battle. But, after shattering one truth, they discover that their world is not real and that their lives have been manipulated by famous actors who live in another dimension.
(Still from Sausage Party (2016), Barry and his friend trying to escape from the shopper’s kitchen)
While Rogen’s “man-child” humor has had its ups (Pineapple Express) and downs (This is the End), I’d consider Sausage Party one of his better works, as I believe he’s taken a worthwhile risk by transforming his “naughtiness” to cartoon. While there are moments that could be potentially offensive to certain groups of people, the filmmakers rely on the animation to pacify some of their satirical, stereotyping jabs. It becomes clear almost half way through the movie, as Scott recognizes, that Sausage Party is surprisingly well thought out. Now, I can’t help but think about the secret lives of groceries every time I walk through the aisles at the supermarket.