Verdict: Guilty fun
On one level Sausage Party is a film made for the premise, in a way it’s a film that’s completely review proof, and it’s a film that is unashamedly in your face, vulgar and says ‘fuck you’ to anyone who wants to challenge it, and I could suppose that that in itself is commendable, but it does have good reviews from the potentially sniffy critical community.
The premise is kind of just purely absurd to describe. There is a group of religious foodstuffs that think that the people who come to buy them are gods to take them to heaven, the metaphore isn’t particularly big and clever but what it allows the film makers to do, (who incedentally before this have done much more, sort of middle of the road animation, maybe apart from Shrek, I mean one director has previosuly only made Thomas & Friends), is look at the themes from a very detatched, dry perspective. It’s ocasionally a bit too on the nose, but it also occasionally makes jokes around just how on the nose it is, it’s as if the joke they’re making is “this political religion based issue is so damn obvious, it’s litereally this simple”, I’m not going to say I’m 100% behind that type of humour, and it is a tad reductive, but it is certainly intersting, and maybe that’s the problem with the film, it’s only ever intersting.
There have been adult animations in the past, but not in the cinema for a while I think, certainly not for my generation. For my generation, when it think of adult animations I think of TV shows, BoJack Horseman and Rick and Morty, both of which I actually have a lot of affection for. The great thing about animation is that you can do things you can’t do in live action cinema which is why a movement we’ve seen in recent years into adventurous animation for an adult audience that fully explore that possibility is so exciting for me, and Sausage Party does explore that, there was one sequence with a talking condom that just made me have a similar reactoin to the church spire death in Hot Fuzz, which is to go eugh, and laugh at the same time. There is a lot of humour like that but that is a staple of Seth Rogan movies, (This Is the End, Pineapple Express), although with works like Sausage Party and Preacher, which I incedentally think is a far superior work, his career is taking on a much more exciting bent.
One thing I do like is that it fixes a lot anthropomorphication problems that other movies have. There’s a moment in Return of the Jedi, which I actually like, where we see robots getting ripped apart and it’s played for laughs and to me that just completely spoils the point of having robots in the film, because you are meant to engage with them on the level of people so them getting ripped apart, Chinese torture style, should be horribly traumatic. This film revolves arond the idea that anthropmorphosised characters getting hurt is just as horrible as people being hurt. Issue number 2 that this film gets right; following the rules of anthropmorphication in general; in Bee Movie, we have bee world, and it’s its own homogenous little thing, then a bee dates a human, then bees sue humans, and by then you’re going ‘hang on this doesn’t work at all’, but this movie frequently makes jokes about how the world of the foodstufs translate into the human world, and when they do eventually interact they stick to their own rules, there is occasionally moments, actually quite frequent moments where you think, ‘no, that can’t work’ but they very sensibly don’t show the human perspective, so although it might be stupid you never really have to think about it, for better or worse.
There are some admitedly very dumb, but very funny jokes, and it is almost unbearably postmodern, and in its last act it does completely fall apart, and the animation is a bit Foodfight!, but in a world where people are treading on egg shells with regards to religion and religious issues, a film that’s prepared to be this in your face about it is actually quite refreshing, and it has enough dumb humour to eventually make you laugh by attrition.
And plus, it has Edward Norton, (Fight Club, American History X, The Illusionist), doing a very funny Woody Allen, (Annie Hall) impression, and Bill Hader, (Inside Out) playing a Native American figure, (the film actually makes jokes about how we would associate different foodstuffs with different racial stereotypes), although the character is taken from Native Americans, the voice performance is clearly lifted from Johnny Depp playing Hunter S. Thompson in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Who doesn’t want to see that?