Sausage Party (2016)

So this is a major animated feature made by US studios that has zero chance of ever making it to our shores. It has a decent enough budget to look comparable to other CGI cartoons in terms of quality and it even has a long list of famous names providing voices including James Franco, Edward Norton and Salma Hayek. But this is an American cartoon very much made for adults and is certain to cause offence almost everywhere so it was released only in Western countries.

In a world in which all food is sapient and animate yet humans are unable to perceive them as such, a sausage named Frank lives on a shelf in a supermarket called Shopwell’s. All of the food items believe that humans are gods who will bring them to a happy live in the great beyond outside the supermarket and the sausages in particular look forward to being together with the buns. However due to a mishap, Frank and his girlfriend Brenda, a bun, falls out of the shopping cart and needs to find their way back to their aisle. They are joined during this journey by a lavash, apparently a kind of flatbread, and a bagel who fell out of the cart at the same time. Frank meets Firewater, a whiskey of some kind I think, who reveals to me the truth that humans are monsters who devour food and that the great beyond is a lie. Meanwhile, Frank’s friend Barry, another sausage, learns the same truth when they arrive at the house of the human who purchased them.

This film mocks so many of society’s sacred cows that I don’t even know where to start. The belief that the inhabitants of the supermarket have in the great beyond is obviously meant to target all religions in general with the kicker here being that it was invented by a group of imperishable food items, hence immortals. The bagel and the lavash stand in for a Jew and a Muslim respectively and they even manage to invoke the longstanding tussle over Palestine by framing it as a conflict over their aisle. The very premise of this story is a send up of all cartoons that anthropomorphize inanimate objects. As Seth Rogen who both voices Frank and wrote the screenplay suggests, in any world in which ordinary objects are animate and sapient, they would inevitably come into conflict with humans. To top it all off, the film in a giant orgy that includes homosexual acts. It’s pretty hard to think of any red lines that they haven’t crossed.

Those who aren’t offended will find this a wickedly funny and endlessly creative work. The density of ideas is impressive and while some of the jokes may be rather crass, such as Barry exclaiming that a human munching on baby carrots are eating children, I don’t think any of it is mean-spirited. The only villains in the piece are the humans and I have to confess to feeling a great deal of satisfaction with how thoroughly the food items deal with the humans. It’s like watching Bambi and having the deer realize that they can fight back against the hunters. The art design here isn’t anything to sniff at either. As my wife notes, the buns with their luscious curves look sexy and lewd, something I wouldn’t have believed possible without seeing it. Even the official poster looks almost NSFW. I see that as just one more way that the filmmakers thought to push the boundaries in an inventive way.

Needless to say I enjoyed this a great deal and would love to see more of these made-for-adult cartoons from Hollywood. I think I’ve posted before how animated features from other countries seem to be so much more creative than the American ones but this film convincingly demonstrates what Hollywood can achieve when they’re not trying to cater to everyone. Most of all, I’m stoked that such a film can even exist. It’s great that there are creators who thought up this insane idea, it’s great that there are big name talents who are willing to put their names on it and it’s great that there’s enough of a market to justify making such a work.

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