Richard and CP24 anchor Travis Dhanraj talk about the weekend’s big releases, including Seth Rogen’s smarter-than-you-think “Sausage Party,” “Pete’s Dragon,” a new look at Disney’s most famous dragon and Meryl Streep as the world’s worst singer in “Florence Foster Jenkins.”
Richard sits in with Marcia McMillan to have a look at the family friendly “Pete’s Dragon,” the un-family smörgåsbordof swears and smut that is “Sausage Party” and the marvellously off key “Florence Foster Jenkins. ”
Hot on the heels of family-friendly cartoons like Zootopia, The Secret Life of Pets and Finding Dory comes an animated movie that definitely isn’t for the whole family… unless it’s the Manson Family.
The high concept of Seth Rogen’s NSFW Sausage Party was, I think, best summed up by twitter user @ByChrisSmith who wrote, “So that Sausage Party trailer… Toy Story for food with swears?”
It’s the kind of food porn you won’t see on the Food Network. “We started to think ‘What if food had feelings?’ said Rogen after a sneak preview at the South By Southwest Film Festival. “That really is what inspired the whole idea: What if food thought one thing happened and discovered another thing happened?”
The story begins at a supermarket called Shopwell’s. Frank the Sausage (voice of Rogen), his hot dog bun girlfriend Brenda (Kristen Wiig) and all the other foods—including Mr. Grits (Craig Robinson), a tomato (Paul Rudd) and Teresa the Taco (Salma Hayek)—live in hope that one day a customer will choose them. When they find out what happens after the customer takes them home, however, they fight to avoid their fate.
R-rated and raunchy, Rogen says he showed an early cut of the film to Borat star Sacha Baron Cohen. “Sausage Party appalled him in some ways,” adding that Cohen, cinema’s reigning Prince of Provocation, called the movie “the craziest thing I’ve ever seen in my life.”
Someone who might not have been surprised by Sausage Party is Ralph Bakshi, a legendary animator who once said, “None of my pictures were anything I could ever take my mother to see. You know it’s working if you’re making movies you don’t want to your mother to see.”
Bakshi began his career his career in traditional animation, working for Terrytoons, home to cartoon characters like Heckle and Jeckle and Mighty Mouse but left television to make first animated film to receive an X-rating from the MPAA. Loosely based on a character created by cartoonist Robert Crumb, who later disavowed the film, 1972s Fritz the Cat is a trippy counterculture flick about a streetwise feline who smokes dope and has run ins with the Hell’s Angels and the Black Panthers. Extremely controversial—New York Times critic Vincent Canby wrote, “[there’s] something to offend just about everyone”—it became the first independent animated film to gross more than $100 million at the box office.
More adult animation came with the R-rated Heavy Metal. An anthology made up of eight stories bound together by an intergalactic traveller described as the sum of all evil, the movie’s tagline promises to take audiences “beyond the future into a universe you’ve never seen before. A universe of mystery. A universe of magic. A universe of sexual fantasies. A universe of awesome good. A universe of terrifying evil.” Rotten Tomatoes calls the movie “sexist, juvenile, and dated,” but says it “makes up for its flaws with eye-popping animation and a classic, smartly-used soundtrack.”
Both Fritz the Cat and Heavy Metal were successful enough to spawn sequels. The Nine Lives of Fritz the Cat and Heavy Metal 2000 both tried and failed to recapture the success of the originals. When asked if there might be a sequel to Sausage Part Rogen said, “What’s better than one sausage? That would be dope. All we do are franchises now.”
“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.