Prepare to see your kitchen as a killing field, the supermarket as a place of crushed and broken dreams and takeaway pizza as an exercise in violent dismemberment.
For Sausage Party, Seth Rogen’s gloriously foulmouthed, absolutely hilarious tale of relgiously-devoted sentient food that discover their faith may have more holes in it than Swiss Cheese, is upon us.
And trust me, you don’t want any sides with that.
In fact, if the food in Sausage Party has its way, and by the end of the film’s fantastically over the top near x-rated finale, they most certainly do, then you won’t be having appetisers, desserts, mains or snacks of any kind for the foreseeable future.
Set in Shopwell’s, the very epitome of a modern supermarket with fresh food, packaged food and non-perishables sitting side-by-side in manically over-marketed aisles, this very grown-up animated film opens with the food singing an ode to “The Gods” aka the shoppers who are regarded as deeply beneficent beings whose sole aim is to take their purchases to a blissful life in the euphemistically-titled Great Beyond.
Since food very rarely returns to the shelves from which it came, this hardwired belief system prevails in perpetuity with all the food convinced that zipping across the barcode scanner is their ticket to life everlasting.
Naturally that isn’t the case at all, and when a jar of Honey Mustard (Danny McBride) – which hilariously is regarded as a suspect consumable since no one can decide if it’s honey or mustard – returns with barely-articulated but fearful tales of horror from the kitchen, no one wants to believe that their hopes and dreams are all teeth-crunching lies.
That includes Frank (Seth Rogen), a frankfurter who along with Barry (Michael Cera) and 6 other of their kin sit cheek by jowl with packaged buns, one packet of which contains Frank’s curvaceous and morally-vexed girlfriend Brenda who is fearful of offending The Gods in any way.
In the lead-up to the 4th of July when both the frankfurters and the buns will likely be whisked off to their eternal glory, no one wants to believe that their sustaining system of beliefs is rooted in lies and misinformation.
But the more Frank thinks about it, the more he begins to see holes big enough to slide he and his fellow frankfurters into and a schism slowly creeps in between Frank, and his fellow journeyers back to the shelves after a shopping trolley mishap sends a number of them crashing to the floor in a scene that recalls, if you can believe it, the opening scenes of Saving Private Ryan (watch for the spaghetti can).
Resembling the odyssey home that filled Inside Out with so much delight, Sausage party is however not your average animated film.
It is, in fact, much like the sort of film you would expect if Pixar grew up, got a drug habit, a raging libido and a host of anger management issues; not to mention a mouth so potty that not swearing is an oddity.
Yes fellow animation consumers this is not your grandmother’s cartoon in any way shape or form; it is fact, thematically and linguistically at least the anti-Pixar, kicking off with innuendo and swear-laden dialogues and rarely letting up for even a second.
You could be forgiven at times for thinking it resembles a Toy Story instalment with its cast of eccentrically, mismatched characters such as Kareem Adbul Lavash (David Krumholtz) and Sammy Bagel Jr (Edward Norton) and Terese del Taco (Salma Hayek), a lesbian taco with designs on Brenda, all doing their best to return home and comically failing, initially at least, to make that happen.
But the visual and character cues are pretty much where the Pixar DNA leaves and Rogen’s brand of in-your-face vengeful food insanity takes over.
It’s full-on but in the best possible way, with an underlying intelligence sufficiently well-developed that jokes can be made about Middle Eastern race relations for instance with chortles more than gasps the appropriate response.
It goes close of course to going too far more than once, with a number of the jokes particularly about the German Mustard and their hatred of Juice (think about it) skirting very close to the wind, but by and large the jokes land, they make some incisive social commentary and Sausage Party rolls briskly on like two escaping carrots who, um, never mind …
Sausage Party illustrates both the advantages and disadvantages of Seth Rogen’s frenetic approach – he co-wrote the screenplay with Evan Goldberg, Kyle Hunter and Ariel Shaffir – with a go-hard-or-go-home approach that works much of the same but comes close to derailing in the last manic third of the film which has to be seen to be believed.
For the most part though Sausage Party works and works extremely well.
It manages to retain enough heart – though not, it must be said, as its more emotionally-nuanced Pixar compatriots – to keep you rooting for Frank and Brenda to get their happily-ever-after, and for the faith-in-crisis foodstuffs, their spiritual crisis egged on by non-perishables such as Firewater (Bill Hader) and Mr. Grits (Craig Robinson) who have seen it all, to find some answers to their existential questions.
And it has a villain, Douche (Nick Kroll), a female hygiene product with a broken nozzle who blames Frank and Brenda for his failure to reach the hallowed kitchens of the great beyond.
To be honest, he is more annoying than anything but he adds some spice to the narrative as he rants and rails and grows ever stronger and more demented on a diet of juice and tequila.
But by and large Sausage Party, in all its enjoyably foulmouthed, sexually-obsessed glory, is the story of Frank and Brenda and their fellow foodstuffs’ attempts to discover the truth of their existence, and to seize control of their destiny, one innuendo-laden, swear word stacked aisle at a time.