sausage party

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Directors: Conrad Vernon and Greg Tiernan

Genre: Animated Comedy

Year: 2016

Listen to me, kids: never trust the public. SAUSAGE PARTY came barreling out of the gate last week with delighted audiences extolling its profound religious message paired with the usual Rogen gross-out humor. As an animation enthusiast, particularly animation geared towards adults such as what you see on cartoonporno, I was on board. I was hyped. And—as I so often am—I was disappointed.

Frank (Seth Rogen) and Brenda (Kristen Wiig) go together like a hot dog and a bun—because they are literally a hot dog and a bun. The will of the “Gods” (the human patrons of the supermarket) prevents them from acting on their sexual urges before they are purchased and transported to the “Great Beyond.” When the awful truth of the “Great Beyond” presents itself, Frank and Brenda confront the reality of their beliefs while escaping the wrath of a literal douche who wants them dead. Also, they resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

sausage party jewish

See if you can guess which of these characters is Jewish

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Some reviews call this film a “parody” of Pixar/Dreamworks/But Mostly Pixar films, but the similarities stop with anthropomorphized inanimate objects. This isn’t a parody. This is just a bad animated film.

To clarify, the animation itself doesn’t make this film bad. It actually holds up pretty well to other theatrical animated films. SAUSAGE PARTY’s garish style is possibly the smartest thing about this film. It suits the tone and story perfectly while falling squarely within the technological capabilities available. This is a big reason why TOY STORY holds up 16 years later—the plasticky look and stiff movements of early computer animation hearkens to what audiences expect toys to look like. In addition, there are some cool moments in SAUSAGE PARTY where the style falls away and we peek into the literally dark human perspective, only to bleed slowly back to extreme color. Animators on this film recently went public with allegations of mistreatment, so I don’t have a damn complaint about it visually.

sausage party jail

The SAUSAGE PARTY Production Office

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Adult-oriented animation is on the rise and is only getting better. BOJACK HORSEMAN, RICK AND MORTY, BOB’S BURGERS, ARCHER, SOUTH PARK, THE SIMPSONS, FUTURAMA, and more are rewriting the rulebook on animation. Animated shows can routinely tackle tough issues (up to and including gender, sexuality, race, depression, and suicide) while remaining squarely rooted in their own unique sense of humor and style (yes, even FAMILY GUY). If anything, animation is more suited to unpack tough concepts because of the veneer of unreality the medium brings; look no further than WALTZ WITH BASHIR and PERSEPOLIS. All this is to say that, to a modern viewer who learned to expect more from her animated content, it really isn’t that funny to hear a sausage say “fuck” anymore.

SAUSAGE PARTY brings little to the humor table other than terrible puns and gratuitous profanity. All the other funny bits were completely given away in the trailers. The SAVING PRIVATE RYAN sendup is pretty damn funny, but I was shocked to find that it didn’t elicit even a chuckle from a sold-out theater on opening night. We’d all seen it before. As for the rest of the humor, it’s one thing to have a running gag where a character will inadvertently name a food (“let’s catch up,” etc.) and said food appears—it’s dumb, but admittedly kind of funny as it became more contrived. This whole movie drips with puns. Reeks of them. The pun-to-minute ratio is staggering, and gets old fast. And I’m not one to condemn puns! To use examples from the list, BOB’S BURGERS and BOJACK HORSEMAN are both incredibly guilty of awful pun overload. They succeed by creating funny characters and situations against a backdrop of cringe-inducing puns. They don’t lean on puns to carry their humor, it’s just a bonus. SAUSAGE PARTY serves a side dish for a main course, so to speak.

sausage party pun

Pictured: literally a backdrop of cringe-inducing puns

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In terms of profanity, I partially take back what I said a few paragraphs ago—it can still be funny to hear a sausage say “fuck”—but not when the sausages say “fuck,” and the buns say “fuck,” and the bagels say “fuck,” and the carrots say “fuck,” and the mustard says “fuck,” and the fucking lavash says “fuck.” Fuck! (See? See how unfunny that was?) The film opens with a profanity-riddled musical number, “The Great Beyond,” written by actual legend Alan Menken. The nasty language in the cheerful, Disney-esque song is funny, but then the cursing goes on to pervade the entire film, inadvertently thrown around for no purpose other than to just say it. Compare this to BOJACK HORSEMAN, which has a budget of exactly one “fuck” per season, and it’s always used when it counts. I had to wonder if SAUSAGE PARTY was even trying to play the language for laughs at all, or if this is just how the characters in this world talk. If this was a better movie, I would argue that the abundance of profanity sticks to the reality of an adult world in spite of this film’s childish cartoony appearance. But this isn’t a better movie. So I won’t.

sausage party this caption

This caption writes itself!

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Perhaps the biggest draw to SAUSAGE PARTY was the promise of one of the most compelling arguments against the existence of God put to film. “Yes!” I thought. “Talk about using animation to tackle some adult themes!” As someone who grew up on VEGGIETALES, I was excited about the idea of cartoon food telling me that God did not make me special and does not love me very much. Having seen the film, I will say that the argument is compelling. However, it is presented completely without nuance. The whole thing is spelled out in the first few minutes of the film’s opening song, and the dialogue is completely on the nose—particularly the parallels to premarital sex. I understand that this is all intentional, but it was spelled out so clearly that by the end I didn’t feel like the film really sold it to me in a unique way. I felt like someone could have just told me and I would have said, “Wow! That is a compelling argument against the existence of God!” and I’d have two hours of my life back. It feels more like Seth Rogen and Friends™ wanted to make a movie about lewd cartoon food and slapped a grown-up message over it because adult-oriented animation tackles big concepts and, by golly, that’s what we’re doing.

sausage party buns

Really, the design of these buns was all I needed to lose my faith in God.

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All of this aside, I still haven’t mentioned the most damning thing about SAUSAGE PARTY and what sets it apart as a genuinely terrible animated film. SAUSAGE PARTY is racist. Really, really racist. It starts off slow with Edward Norton doing his best Woody Allen impression as a neurotic, Jewish bagel. Then, alright, the taco is Mexican. But then the soy sauce is Japanese, there’s a box of Grits that’s black, and then . . . there’s Firewater.

sausage party firewater

Oh noooooooo

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SAUSAGE PARTY expects to get away with rampant stereotyping and racism (and even a few very violent and terrifying rape jokes) because it’s animated. PERSEPOLIS uses the veneer of unreality to depict its hero’s complex emotional journey after fleeing revolution-torn Tehran, ZOOTOPIA uses it to explore discrimination in a way that allows people of all beliefs to discuss and acknowledge it, and SAUSAGE PARTY uses it to be racist and lewd and expect to get away with it. It attempts to take part in the adult animation movement with profanity and an anti-religious message, but it simultaneously expects you not to take it seriously because it’s just a cartoon. This completely undercuts everything good about modern animation. Just as we’re finally entering a world where animation can be taken seriously, where ZOOTOPIA is appreciated on the same level as live action films, SAUSAGE PARTY comes along as a prime example of why some people still don’t consider an animated film a “real movie.” It spits in the face of what it means to be an animated film. It uses its powers of animation for evil as opposed to for good.

If you want to get really smashed and go see this at midnight with a bunch of your buddies, be my guest. But if you’re a lover of animation or of good film in general, spare yourself this one. You’re better off watching SOUTH PARK, a show with 10 times the humor and 10 times the heart in one episode than SAUSAGE PARTY has in its entire runtime.

Verdict: Do Not Recommend

Kate Brogden is the Television Editor at Crossfader in addition to an aspiring screenwriter with a penchant for magical realism and romantic comedies. Her proudest achievement to date is getting a friend into Disneyland without a ticket.

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2 Responses

  1. Charlie K. says:

    Poorly written review.

  2. Kathryn says:

    You missed the point of the film completely!!