Thursday, August 25, 2016

Sausage Party

SAUSAGE PARTY (Greg Tiernan and Conrad Vernon, 2016)

With computer-animated foodstuffs discussing the involvement of a divine force in their lives, SAUSAGE PARTY bears some similarity to VEGGIETALES, although the relentlessly vulgar comedy with an atheistic perspective makes abundantly clear where it parts ways with the Christian lessons for kids. There’s no denying the boldness of SAUSAGE PARTY in using the forms of animation and raunchy comedy to explore something more serious than audiences might expect. Imagine TOY STORY, in which inanimate objects receive a revelation about the whims of those they are devoted to, and cross it with the muddled theology and scatological comedy of Kevin Smith’s DOGMA for some approximation of what has been cooked up.

The items on grocery store shelves patiently await the day when they will be chosen by the gods, otherwise known as the shoppers. WIth the 4th of July nearing, chances are greater for many that their time to discover the life that awaits beyond what they can observe is imminent. Among the faithful waiting their turn is Frank (Seth Rogen), a sausage who hopes to be selected at the same time as his hot dog bun girlfriend Brenda (Kristen Wiig), who is in a package next to his on an endcap display.

Indeed, fortune smiles upon them when a woman puts them both in her cart, but a returned jar of of Honey Mustard (Danny McBride) warns that the paradise they’ve been promised does not exist outside Shopwell’s doors. An accident separates Frank, Brenda, Sammy the bagel (Edward Norton), and a contentious lavash named Kareem (David Krumholtz) from the items that leave the store. Also left behind in the scrum is Douche (Nick Kroll), who is damaged and discarded. He holds Frank accountable for his fate and vows revenge. Meanwhile, Frank learns that Honey Mustard was right about the horrible truth outside the grocery and wants to share the news with the others.

SAUSAGE PARTY is every bit as self-satisfied and strident as any evangelical entertainment meant to witness to the masses. Those looking for well-reasoned arguments critical of and against religious beliefs best look elsewhere from the gleeful bomb-throwing here. The screenplay by Rogen, Evan Goldberg, Kyle Hunter, and Ariel Shaffir possesses the intellectual swagger of a college freshman with a smidgen of exposure to the work of Friedrich Nietzsche. The rebellious pushback manifests as reductive posturing masquerading as cogent thought. Such a shrill response to faith kind of makes the film as humorless as those the makers might accuse their opposition of being.

SAUSAGE PARTY also treads the line between ironic stereotyping and demeaning characterizations based on ethnicity, sexuality, and creed. For comedians pushing boundaries to mock unenlightened thinking, this is notoriously tricky terrain. In execution SAUSAGE PARTY’s jokes play closer to regressive reinforcement than comedic immolation of stereotypes. The filmmakers pay a lot of attention to the planks in the eyes of those with whom they disagree but fail to notice those in their own views.

Grade: C-

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