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Columbia/Tri-Star // R // August 12, 2016
List Price: Unknown [Buy now and save at Fandango]
Animated films and TV shows have often received the reputation that they are made exclusively for children. However, many content creators are telling very adult stories through different forms of animation. This isn't a new concept, as The Simpsons, South Park, Family Guy, among others have been succeeding at this for years. In 2015, Charlie Kaufman released his tremendous Anomalisa, which went on to be the first R-rated film to be Oscar nominated in the animated category. Seth Rogen and his usual group have joined forces once again to bring out the most Seth Rogen movie that you could possibly imagine. Feel free to take that as a pro or con, depending upon your feelings of one of Hollywood's go-to people for comedy.
From the perspective of various food items at the supermarket, their goal in life is to reach the "Great Beyond" beyond the automatic sliding doors. Each product has the dream of being taken home by consumers, who they view as gods. Little do they know, they are being taken from their packaging to be killed and consumed. A sausage (Seth Rogen) and a group of unlikely heroes must work together to survive.
In short, Sausage Party tells the story of a sexually frustrated group of foods that must learn to work together to overcome monsters that they once viewed to be gods. If nothing else, the concept is definitely a fresh one. Given Rogen and Evan Goldberg's style, it's just as over-the-top as one could imagine. They establish that this isn't a movie for the kids within the first few lines of dialogue. The film's energy is established rather quickly in a song about the "Great Beyond" that all products within this store are eager to reach. It's a hilarious tune filled with food puns, and practically all of them land extremely well. Some of the concept execution is reminiscent of a Pixar film exclusively for adults. If you enjoy the humor found in Rogen and Goldberg's previous ventures, then you're sure to find the first half to be an absolute blast.
Perhaps some of the biggest laughs that the screenplay has to offer root from the various creative ways that the writers kill off various foods. While none of these sequences contain any real gore, the audience is treated to some hilariously creative deaths referencing famous scenes from the likes of Saving Private Ryan and other films. However, the screenplay loses its directon around the midpoint. While it never loses its entertainment value, the laughs certainly aren't as consistent. Rogen, Goldberg, and their other two co-writers seem to run out of places to take this adventure at this point. What started as a wildly imaginative universe turns into a world no longer feels nearly as expansive. Sausage Party never quite finds its way back, but at least it never has a dull moment. This especially holds true for a scene that may leave some audiences questioning how Sony achieved an R-rating.
At the end of the day, this is a movie about sexually frustrated food, although there are some meaningful messages incorporated. There's an abundance of social commentary on religious freedom and the acceptance of various sexual orientations. Fortunately, this is accomplished without breaking the tone that had been developed previously. However, every attempt that the film makes at becoming sentimental falls flat. Unlike Pixar films, I never quite found myself caring very much for any of the protagonists. Sausage Party is good for a few laughs, but it certainly won't have you on the edge of your seat for any of the characters. These are literally exact translations of characters that we see in typical Seth Rogen live-action films.
There's no denying that Sausage Party truly makes full use of its settings in its animation. From the protagonists' perspective, the world is colorful and playful. Each aisle has a wildly different atmosphere. Meanwhile, the world has a dull and bleak filter when we transition to the world of the shoppers, where each aisle is indistinguishable. The contrast between these two radically different pictures makes for a much more interesting picture to watch. The animation itself is fitting for the story being told, as it successfully emulates the typical animated film that one would expect to see on the silver screen.
Despite being rather entertained from start to finish, I'm somewhere in the middle of the road on Sausage Party. There are certainly some good laughs to be had, although it simply isn't the comedic gold that many are making it out to be. Fortunately, not all of the best scenes are spoiled in the trailer, although it becomes a bit stale by its midpoint. It never quite manages to find its way back on track, but it still pulls out a few more laughs before the credits begin rolling. Audience reactions will definitely vary depending upon one's opinion on Seth Rogen's sense of humor. Sausage Party is a fun late summer meal, although it isn't quite cooked all of the way through.