Hey, did you notice that hot dogs kind of look like big, juicy dongs? That kind of functions as a joke, right? And how about hot dog buns? If you squint your eyes hard enough, they kind of look like vaginas with boobs? That’s a thing, correct?
And what about the word “fuck?” Need I say anything more? I mean, having just read the word fuck (in a newspaper! Can you believe it?) you’re probably in the hospital from all of those splits suddenly running down your sides.
Oh, and hey, puns! The greatest? Or the bestest! Especially sexy, supermarket puns. You know, ones in which foul-mouthed food gets shot in the “guacamoles” or puts its “meat” into “buns.” Basically, it’s the kind of comedy that everybody can relate too. Provided they’re 17, really stoned, and in the middle of performing a Cartman impression for a noticeably disinterested companion.
To put it another way, this is, in a nutshell, what you’ll get when you sit through “Sausage Party,” a lazily written Pixar spoof so conceptually thin, it shouldn’t function as a satirical funny or die trailer let alone a feature length 89 minute movie.
In “Sausage Party” Seth Rogen voices a hot dog named Frank who is hoping he’ll be plucked off his shelf and taken to the “great beyond.” A mystical place that lies beyond the automatic doors of Shopwells, supermarket home, where he’ll be unwrapped and finally united with his hot-dog bun girlfriend, Brenda (Kristen Wiig). However, just as Brenda and Frank find themselves inside a shopping cart, a panicked jar of honey mustard (Danny McBride) rants about the truth behind the great beyond. Apparently it isn’t some kind of everlasting paradise, but a kitchen where they’re prepared and served by oblivious humans. After this startling revelation, Brenda and Frank find themselves separated from their packaging as they wander the aisles of Shopwells, searching for answers. In addition, the pair are pursued by a factory wrapped douche (Nick Kroll performing as his Bobby Bottleservice character) that blames Frank and Brenda for squandering his shot at a “M.I.L.F.”
It’s telling that one of the best gags in “Sausage Party” revolves around a piece of chewed up gum that resembles Stephen Hawking simply because it reveals the level of hacky inspiration at play in the movie. Apart from easy jokes at the expense of well-worn comedic targets, you also get not- quite-clever references to “Saving Private Ryan,” “Terminator 2” and inexplicably, the album cover to Meatloaf’s “Bat out of Hell.” Yet in spite of the film’s insistence on “Family Guy”-style pandering, “Sausage Party” awkwardly flails towards heavy-handed “South Park”-style speechifyin’ and social commentary.
Rogen, along with his trio of co-writers, wants to say something about faith and how it affects the world at large, but this message is usually expressed in a glib way with ironic stereotypes. “Sausage Party’s” jabs at Israel/Palestine relations boils down to a bagel named Sammy Bagel Jr. (WASPy Edward Norton doing a Woody Allen impression) and an anthropomorphic pile of pita bread (David Krumholtz) whose vision of the great beyond involves him being “drizzled on by 72 bottles of virgin olive oil”.
Ugh! Imagine if the writers of “The Flintstones” grew a social conscious and you’ll understand what a punny self-important mess “Sausage Party” can be.
Even more exasperating, “Sausage Party” falls into the trap that a number of R-rated animated comedies fall into; it’s vulgar simply for the sake of being vulgar. It tries so hard to be naughty and extreme, it winds up being alienating and obnoxious.
Mike Sullivan is a movie reviewer for Weekender. Movie reviews appear weekly in Weekender.
Starring: Seth Rogan, Kristin Wiig, Danny McBride, Nick Kroll, Ed Norton
Director: Conrad Vernon, Greg Tiernan
Weekender Rating: W
Length: 130 minutes