[Pictured above. The face you will make during the majority of this picture.]
The entire process of reviewing a work of art is subjective. Everyone places a slightly different emphasis on different aspects that are important to a piece, not to mention having different opinions about how well those pieces work. But Comedy films are a particularly tough nut to crack. A joke that simply works for one person, simply won’t for another, often regardless of how well thought out the joke is, or how it’s told. Sausage Party falls into a weird spot on the review spectrum. For the life of me, I don’t know if it’s legitimately funny or just shocking.
There isn’t a single highbrow joke in this movie. It’s a rapid-fire cacophony of profanity, race and gender stereotypes, and violent or sexual sight gags. The whole thing feels like it was conceptualized by supremely baked Seth Rogen who was playing with his food while “heh heh heh”ing to himself. Needless to say, if you’ve never been a fan of Rogen or of crude humor, this isn’t going to be your cup o’ tea. And if you are a fan, this is going to put that to the test. The most consistent joy I got from the jokes were the food puns – “How do you like them apples!?!” [apples peek into frame] “You mean us?” For the rest of the film… well… I wasn’t bored, but I’ll admit that most of my laughter was laced with an underlying tone of “That’s so horrible that I can’t believe they fucking went there.”
And yet, I’d still give this movie a recommendation for Rogen fans. Despite the many many jokes told in poor taste, they service a story that is designed as an allegory to promote respect and camaraderie across mankind. The film also has a lot to say about blind faith – not just that it’s bad, but that addressing it as an outsider requires understanding and humility. I’m of the opinion that there are better ways to approach this in 2016 than wiener in the bun gags and Nazi sauerkraut, but if the message reaches an audience that otherwise wouldn’t have heard it, I suppose that’s half the battle. The other half will now be getting them to understand how serious these issues really are.
As a story, Sausage Party is surprisingly cohesive, functional, and even surprising. That is, it gives you a story structure you would expect, but not in the way you expect it. This is partly due to “I can’t believe they took it there” moments and partly due to characters getting horrifically offed with more regularity than a season of Game of Thrones. It all ends with a twist that will make you curse at yourself because now you’ll need to see Sausage Party 2.
If nothing else, nobody can accuse Sausage Party of holding back. It pushes its premise and humor to the absolute limits and then keeps pushing. Mileage may vary on how amusing it is to see a wiener refuse to stop pushing.