Hammering Out... is a series of movie reviews featuring a lively he said/she said discussion between John and Julie. Next up: SAUSAGE PARTY.
JOHN: What I wouldn’t give to be a fly on the wall of a theater where some unsuspecting, clueless parents bring their kids to see Sausage Party. You just know that’s going to happen somewhere. And I can kind of see why. The animation style clearly mimics the bright, handsome look of Pixar films. It’s even got the same Toy Story-esque hook to the story – what does our food do when we’re not around? But, make no mistake: Seth Rogen and friends are using the animation medium to do things they could never get away with an R-rated live action comedy. This movie is all kinds of fucked up, and I mean that in a good way.
The voice work is strong, full of the usual suspects (Jonah Hill, James Franco, Danny McBride), and some surprising newbies (Edward Norton, Nick Kroll). I thought the script teetered between funny and clever, stupid and lazy, but it ultimately came out on the right side of things. You’ll probably get into this, but the movie starts at 11, with the sausage characters swearing up a storm and acting horny, and never really goes down from there. I don’t think having animated characters say fuck a lot is all that hilarious. I mean, South Park beat them to that punch about 18 years ago, so the novelty has worn off by now. But, there’s a Saving Private Ryan parody about 20 minutes in that is absolute genius, and I was on board for everything else after that.
This movie works best when it attempts the type of humor used in BoJack Horseman – lots of puns, and witty visual references. It’s raunchy as hell too, with a food orgy scene that aims to bring the house down. It almost does. What’d you think?
JULIE: I specifically told my mom before we left for the weekend not to take the kids to see Sausage Party. Yes, it looks like a kids’ movie. No, it is definitely not one.
I’m glad you brought up South Park: Bigger, Longer, Uncut. That, to me, is the pinnacle of R-rated animated films. The tone of that film is spot on. It’s not just kids saying “fuck.” It’s the filmmakers exploring why it’s so tragic when kids say “fuck.” That movie had so much to say about censorship and our society of pearl-clutchers who glorify violence. I haven’t watched it in a while; but I’d be willing to bet, like Idiocracy, it’s even more relevant today.
But this isn’t a South Park review. It’s a Sausage Party review. Sausage Party is not as important as South Park. It tries to say something about religion, but I’m not sure the message hits home. Like you mentioned, the movie starts off with all of the foods swearing and talking—in rather graphic detail—about fucking. It’s gilding the lily, really. The sausage looks like a wang and the bun looks like a vag, and it’s pretty obvious to anyone with eyes what’s supposed to happen between the two of them. I think the whole thing would’ve worked better—tonally and for shock value—if the foods had started out all G-rated and innocent before having their minds blown regarding the truth about their gods.
Also, this movie is really smug about its point-of-view. Religion—all religion—is for idiots. True enlightenment happens when you give up that charade, take some drugs, and screw whomever you want. It’s a tad too simplistic and very sophomoric.
But the war movie parodies were great. The voice work was very good. I think I laughed a few times…? Maybe…? If your idea of comedy is hearing objects that normally don’t say “fuck” say “fuck,” then this is the movie for you. If you’re looking for more than that, probably just rent South Park.
JOHN: Well, Rogen excels in the sophomoric, but there’s always an underlying sweetness in his movies. I think consistently comparing this to South Park is unfair – it’s just easy because there are not that many R-rated animated movies being made. I think it’s for that reason that I thought Sausage Party would bomb at the beginning of summer. I’m encouraged to see it cleaning up at the box office this weekend. In a stale and woefully underwhelming summer, this is a real highlight.
I like that you pulled out the religious themes – I was too distracted by the talking used condoms and villainous douche to focus on something grander. But, I see that now and I appreciate that they tried to say something, however simplistic it was. They certainly didn’t need to do that.
I thought it was a brilliant move to have Alan Menken to do the music. Menken has scored so many great Disney films over the years, and his involvement here lends some instant prestige to the pic. There are some terrific gags throughout – both visually and verbally. And, a Terminator 2 reference that had me in stitches. I couldn’t believe they went THERE with a lot of stuff. Seems like they got away with everything they wanted to, for better or worse.
Who do you think will like Sausage Party best? Who’s the intended audience? Because I don’t think I would recommend this to a lot of people I know, but I want them to see it anyway.
JULIE: I suppose he “excels” at the sophomoric, but I’d like to see him try something new at this point. I thought 50/50 showed that he has a deeper side, but he hasn’t shown it since then. Some of his stuff is funny, but it’s starting to become same old/same old. I’m a little bored, to be honest.
Who will like this movie? People who liked Deadpool. Shocking revelation alert: I did not like Deadpool. I know I’m in the minority.
The music was fine, but nothing stands out to me. (Maybe because we saw Hamilton this weekend, and what can compare favorably to that?)
I was fine with them going “there” with everything, but they were “there” almost from minute one—at least verbally. By the time the—SPOILER—orgy started, I felt like I’d seen it already.
Even with all my bitching and moaning, you can do worse than Sausage Party. Do I wish there had been more female characters with things to do than just one bun and one taco? Yes. But the voice work is good, and the parodies were fun. It might be one of those films that gets better on subsequent viewings.
How do you rate the film?
JOHN: I’d give it a solid 3.5/5 stars. I’ll definitely buy it on iTunes and watch it again. It’s a great Friday night flick, and probably goes well with some alcoholic beverages. Sounds like I enjoyed it more than you though. What’s your Julie rating for this one? One Aaron Burr divided by three Schuyler sisters? Something like that?
JULIE: No, that’s a ridiculous ratings system. I’ll give it a Pidgeotto on a Pokemon scale from Rattata to Tauros.
I wrote a book! It's YA novel, THE SOUND OF US. You can find the details right here! Kirkus calls it "a winning story about a teenage voice student that hits all the right notes."
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