“Sausage Party,” the new animated film for adults from Seth Rogen, is the kind of food porn you won’t see on the Food Network. The high concept of this NSFW cartoon is, I think, best summed up by twitter user @ByChrisSmith who wrote, “So that Sausage Party trailer… ‘Toy Story’ for food with swears?” It’s that for sure—don’t take the kids—but it’s more than just a one-joke double entendre about wieners and buns.
The story begins at a supermarket called Shopwell’s. While on the store’s shelves Frank the Sausage (voice of Rogen) and his hot dog bun girlfriend Brenda (Kristen Wiig) live in hope that one day they will ascend to the “Great Beyond” and finally consummate their relationship. “When a bun this fresh is into you,” says Frank, “all you say is when.”
After a jar of Honey Mustard (Danny McBride) is returned to the store he relays horrifying stories about what actually happens to food on the outside. When they are finally chosen, ie: thrown into a shopping cart by the “gods,” Honey Mustard sets them off on an existential journey when he leaps out of the cart. “There ain’t no way I’m going back,” he screams as he splats on the floor. Left in the grocery aisle, Frank and Brenda, along side Sammy Bagel Jr. (Edward Norton doing his best Woody Allen impression) and a Middle Eastern pastry named Lavash (David Krumholtz), try to find out if the gods really are the bloodthirsty animals Honey Mustard described in grim detail. Outside Shopwell’s Frank’s friends—like the hapless Barry Sausage (Michael Cera)—try and make their way back to safety on the store’s shelves.
Is “Sausage Party” OK for kids? Let’s get this out of the way first. It looks like a children’s flick. The wieners are adorable and the other characters—including Mr. Grits (Craig Robinson) and Teresa del Taco (Salma Hayek)—look like they wouldn’t be out of place in a movie like “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs,” but make no mistake, this is not for the little ones. Why? I can sum it up in three words: used talking condom. And that is the least of the adult material. This is über-NSFW and will likely blister the ears of anyone not accustomed to Rogen’s liberal use of the seven words you can never say on television.
So, no children, but will adults like this? It depends on how adult you want to be. The film isn’t as funny as you might expect, given its pedigree. Written by the team behind the very amusing “The Night before” and “This is the End,” it is intermittently hilarious but as often as not it relies on juvenile outrageousness rather than actual wit. The idea of cursing bagels and sexualized tacos quickly wears thin but it is the film’s sheer audaciousness that keeps it interesting. A treatise on everything from cultural relations to gen pop’s tendency to take the easy way out, it’s a timely look at Trump Time, the unique moment in our history when belief outdoes facts. The food items are so pliable that the words to their national anthem, a wild psalm to celebrate the “gods” written by Disney stalwart Alan Menken, change as political affiliations change. “Today was there a verse about exterminating juice?” asks Firewater (Bill Hader).
“Sausage Party,” with all its unhinged humour may be the most subversive movie of the Trump candidacy. There are no walls here, just the barrier of a somewhat self-indulgent, silly story that values cussing as much as the jokes. On the plus side, however, it relishes its ideas and there is no expiration date on its message of unity over division.