Sausage Party
Sony Pictures // R // $34.99 // November 8, 2016
Review by Ryan Keefer | posted November 18, 2016
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The Movie:

Sausage Party is an animated film about a variety of different things like life, love, religion and the big picture. The title is slang to describe a group of men who congregate in one area. Because sausage also means dong, get it?

Kyle Hunter and Ariel Shaffir wrote the film with help from Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg. Rogen and Goldberg wrote This is the End, which Hunter and Shaffir produced, so the favor was presumably returned. Greg Tiernan and Conrad Vernon directed the animated film. Rogen voices Frank, a hot dog in a grocery store who wants to learn more about this mystical place titled "The Great Beyond," which all of the other grocery store food aspires to join. When Honey Mustard (Danny McBride, Eastbound & Down) shatters some preconceived notions about this land, Frank attempts to find out the truth. With his hot dog bun girlfriend Brenda (Kristen Wiig, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty) a bagel named Sammy (Edward Norton, The Bourne Legacy) and a lavash named Kareem (David Krumholtz, Hail, Caesar!), he tries to do this.

Presumably one of the things that people bristled about when it came to Sausage Party were the voiceovers of some of the cast that led to perhaps overly done computer animations of their characters, or just flat out stereotypical representations of characters. Craig Robinson playing Grits, or Bill Hader voicing a Native American character called Firewater and a Mexican character named Tequila. More notably, there were some feathers ruffled at the notion of Selma Hayek playing a taco named Teresa. It was humorous since the larger notion of poking fun at religion and/or religious freedom was the more prized sacred cow that the film seemed to focus on.

On that level, Sausage Party works, not necessarily sticking its thumb in the spiritual eye, but explaining things about religion in a style similar to South Park and laying out how things are before they start to poke holes of skepticism in them. It's not necessarily satire but the storytelling around it was better than I was expecting. The problem within Sausage Party is that this is left a little hidden within a film that wants to be a R-rated animated film that shows food coitus or any other clever dick joke without actually saying the word, and that became white noise for me and where I thought the film lacked focus.

Within the more conventional portions of the story, it was workmanlike and nondescript. Nick Kroll (Date Night) played a broken item named Douche (where's Crazy Ira?) and does the best work of the ensemble. He is cognizant of playing the character over the top and pulls it off expertly. I started to wonder if he has a future in more family friendly fare as a villain, because he damn sure played the prototypical animated film villain to a tee. Considering just how much of the Seth Rogen stock company lent their vocal talents to the film, Kroll's performance is the one to enjoy.

Believe me, I was willing to overlook the raunch that helped propel Sausage Party over the length of its 90 minutes. And while portions of the film and story lend itself to appreciation, that it wanted to draw this attention to itself while having poor transitions to storytelling or flat out humor tamped down what could have been a truly fun movie. If you're going to have the dick joke, at least have something consistently smart to say behind it, and that's what Sausage Party didn't have.

The Blu-ray:
The Video:

The AVC encode that befits Sausage Party and its 1.85:1 widescreen presentation is pretty good. It lacks the type of detail that comes from the larger animation houses but they are present (the twinkie has lots of surface imperfections that make it look nature), while the colors in the film are vibrant and reproduced faithfully while the black levels are consistent. There are moments of image softness but considering the transfer are presumably inherent in the source material.

The Sound:

The DTS-HD MA 5.1 lossless surround track is active and a fun sonic jaunt throughout the film. Be it the pulse of low end fidelity during a club sequence or Meat Loaf singing "I Would Do Anything for Love," the soundtrack includes a lot of dynamic range in the film. In directional effects and channel panning (such as in the sequence where a couple of Frank's friends almost meet their demise), the immersion level is convincing with events from front to back and side to side. Dialogue is well-balanced and does not summon any notable user adjustment to it, and the overall result is a treat to listen to.

Extras:

There is a gag reel (7:29) which at first I thought would be like the Pixar ones where they animate the flubs, but this is just showing the actors break in the sound booth. Eh. "Shock and Awe" (5:11) has Goldberg and Rogen talking about the project's realization, while "The Booth" (9:28) gives us the actors in their recording sessions and their approach to the voice work. "Line---O-Rama" (4:57) includes alternate takes and "The Great Beyond" (4:01) looks at the music of the film and the challenge of making it. "The Pitch" (2:33) includes a look at selling the film, and the last extra, "Seth Rogen's Animation Imaginatorium" (1:05) includes the actor in a Disney-type look at the film that is funnier than I thought it would be.

Final Thoughts:

All of your recognizable box office favorites get together for an animated film that have some laughs (not good ones), some moments of decent storytelling (not enough of them) and tries to do the Pixar/Dreamworks film while maintaining their own comic sensibilities (not hard to do, though it accomplishes this half heartedly). Technically the disc looks and sounds fine and could have used a better/longer extra or two. At the end of the day Sausage Party feels like a miss and a disappointment.



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