I realized 15 minutes into Sausage Party that I was not ready for what was about to happen.
I had to up my level of intoxication and fast.
It was no secret going in that this was going to be another lewd and crude example from the minds that brought us This is the End and The Interview.
So rather than drink to escape the oncoming barrage of indecency, I made a large dent in my beer to better appreciate the film by occupying the similarly altered head space the makers of Sausage Party were likely in when they wrote the film.
For the most part, it worked. Sausage Party has some notable gags that hit thanks to a few clever gems and its visual commitment to appall — and in spite of the filmmakers’ returning bad habit of reverting to profane tirades on bodily functions as the film’s go-to attempt at humor.
It’s important to note how rare it is that Sausage Party was even made. An adult-oriented story of sentient food learning about the horrors that await them after leaving the grocery store is … unique … and it’s awesome that Megan Ellison’s Annapurna Pictures continues to back films that other studios would shy away from.
Not that Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg have much trouble getting projects approved these days. It’s to the point where they can just have their friends show up for some thin reason, ad lib some nasty stuff, make sure there’s the requisite drug use and, BAM, someone will release it for them (see This is the End).
That’s exactly what Sausage Party is, but with the added bonus that it stars animated food, giving it the freedom to go much raunchier.
The major weaknesses of Rogen/Goldberg’s humor are still there — witless profanity, extended exchanges about sexual fluids, commentary on world issues that usually comes off as half-baked (pun very much intended) and maybe a little racist.
It’s blunt, easy gross-out shtick and not very effective.
But being an animated feature is what makes Sausage Party more digestible and therefore able to get away with some of the more outlandish aspects and slip in a helping of spontaneous gags that work.
Food puns, a cameo from a certain food-named musician, references to other movies that come out of nowhere — these are the parts that bring some needed wit and unpredictability to the heavy slathering of raunch that is the majority of the film.
The other thing that makes Sausage Party mostly fun, in spite of itself, is the dedication of its voice cast. Kristen Wiig as a dedicated bun, Bill Hader as a Native American bottle of liquor and Nick Kroll as a feminine hygiene product who acts true to his name — hearing these actors go to town is fun because they are allowed to milk the most silliness out of the picture.
It’s pretty amazing that a movie like Sausage Party can be made in the studio system these days (and be a hit). That doesn’t necessarily mean the final film is going to end up great, as this one still carries a lot of the shrug-worthy crudeness that is part of the filmmakers’ brand.
Regardless, Sausage Party is fresh enough in many regards to pepper its brief runtime with moments that cause either hearty chuckles or a deep sense of personal shame for laughing. Pre-game accordingly.