MOVIE REVIEW: Sausage Party
Wednesday, 21 September 2016
by 👨💻 Graham Pierrepoint
Dir: Greg Tiernan and Conrad Vernon
Starring Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill, James Franco, Kristen Wiig, Michael Cera, Salma Hayek, Edward Norton, Paul Rudd, Danny McBride, Nick Kroll
2.5 STARS (out of 5)
Out of all the movies I have reviewed so far this year, this has perhaps been the most difficult for me – while Nine Lives may just have edged it in terms of being the more inexplicable to describe and summarise, Sausage Party is on a whole other level of bizarre – and it is its concept, perhaps more than its execution, which has earned it so much in the way of plaudits from viewers and critics alike. Certainly, was anyone expecting an adult-rated CG animation revolving around the exploits of frankfurter sausages to be quite as big a hit as it has been? Maybe not – but it’s largely thanks to the combination of big-name talent in Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill and Kristen Wiig that has enabled it to work so well. On a whole other level, however, it’s hard for me to understand exactly why Sausage Party has been so easy for viewers to swallow.
It’s the first adult CG animation and as a result is already standing out from the pack – and it’s a movie that centres around Frank the sausage and his band of supermarket frankfurters, who eagerly await to be ‘chosen’ (i.e. bought) – and as Frank develops a relationship with Brenda the hot dog bun, the foul-mouthed foodstuffs find their ideals of the world beyond the supermarket to be much more sinister than it was initially sold to them. As a result, Frank and friends find themselves struggling against their shared fate – being eaten – all the while cruising through a script chock-full of off-colour gags and near-knuckle character designs.
Sausage Party is, undeniably, clever. This is a concept that has been tapped into with aplomb and with genuine love and a sense of fun – it panders to nobody but itself, revelling in its own audacity for the entirety of its runtime. Certainly, the constant cursing and sexual humour will turn many people away – and it goes without saying that this certainly isn’t a family movie – but it works well to captivate its key audience. The animation works well, and in terms of sheer memorability, its strengths cannot be denied. It also boasts a huge range of comic and voice talent who really help move matters along when they start to get a little sluggish.
That being said, for anyone on the other side of the coin who may not find this sort of movie appealing, it is rather self-congratulatory – and for that, it may be perceived as smug and audacious for the sake of it. That is, of course, the case – it is essentially a Toy Story-style script inspired by family movies that moves in unexpected directions. For many, this will be enough – and for the most part, while it really does try hard to make you laugh, if the idea of a swearing sausage raises a smile, you will likely find yourself entertained.
Sausage Party - Official Trailer (Sony Pictures Entertainment)
Sausage Party is about as predictable as you’d expect otherwise – while it does well to poke fun at certain tropes and offers a number of swerves, it is overall rather underwhelming – for some, once the novelty of the concept and execution has worn off, we are left with what is ultimately that – a novelty. It’s unlikely that Sausage Party will go down as an iconic comedy movie or pivotal moment in animation history – but then again, it never seems that it was ever intended to be that way.
In one sense, Sausage Party is refreshing in its audacity and in that it is such an original idea and execution – but on the other side, this is a movie that thrives on being a loud, proud, crude and cartoonishly violent spectacle that will only appeal to certain people. It’s a movie that has performed extremely well at the box office likely down to the very fact that it exists – the title itself is a double entendre – but the big surprise to many is that it has connected well with viewers and critics alike.
Sausage Party is a hard movie to review subjectively – meaning that it’s always going to be a picture that should be valued on its technical efforts as much as its audacity. After all, it is the sheer spectacle that drives it – and while it may not necessarily be your cup of tea, it should certainly be commended for its very existence. As discussed earlier – does the idea of a foul-mouthed hot dog sausage facing an existential crisis appeal to you? If you answer anything other than ‘no’, I simply have to recommend Sausage Party to you, regardless of whether or not you may enjoy it by the end.
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