So animated R-rated films are very rare…in America. In Japan and other countries they are more common, but in the U.S. it only comes by when a TV show makes a movie, like South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut and Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theaters. The current highest grossing animated R-rated film is Demon Slayer: Mugen Train. But until 2020, it was Sausage Party, a 2016 animated film starring Seth Rogan who also helped write the film. It got very positive reviews from critics and audiences, a generally positive reception. So I am in for a good time right? Nope.
In a supermarket, Frank (Seth Rogan) is a sausage who is in a relationship with a hot dog bun named Brenda (Kristen Wiig). The denizens of the supermarket all wait to go to ‘the Great Beyond’ or to be purchased and taken away, believing that they will be brought to a paradise. However, one jar of honey mustard, who had been purchased then returned, says the Great Beyond is complete trite and commits suicide. In the wake of this, Frank and Brenda along with a few others are stranded and now are faced with either learning the truth or just finding a new package to sneak into to be purchased.
So the animation of this film is serviceable, but kinda ugly. It is trying to emulate Pixar films and it does so well enough but it never really pleases the eye. But pleasing the eye was probably the last thing the animators cared about. The film’s only real controversy was the treatment of its animators who worked under poor conditions and were forced to work overtime for free or else be blacklisted from the industry which 36 of them were. This is just screwed up and obviously not okay, and makes writing anything positive about this film harder. Lucky for me, I didn’t like this film.
Have you watched any of Seth Rogan’s comedies? Well, that is basically what we have here: an animated Seth Rogan comedy. Basically the underlining joke of the film is ‘oh this is an animated film where we say “fuck” and talk about “sex and drugs and stuff’. Unfortunately for the film, South Park had a movie two decades ago, so the excessive use of the f-bomb wasn’t really funny, just immature and excessive like the film was trying to beat some dare that was made when someone was high on bath salts. The sex jokes weren’t really funny either, nor the pot smoking references. And that is a solid amount of the film’s humor. But there are also the fun-pun jokes, which are only clever once, and that one time is in the first 10 minutes of the film. With the film being a comedy, having most of the jokes not land really hurts the film.
But there is still the plot and messages. Unfortunately, they don’t fare much better. While I have seen worse plots, this plot was actually nothing special for most of the film and only really got interesting with its Pixar satire in the third act when the food started killing people to survive. That was actually a pretty decent way to deconstruct the Toy Story formula. However, that joke wasn’t really that big of a comedic masterstroke to make the film worth the watch. Honestly, this could probably be done better by another director or studio. A similar trajectory occurs with the themes and messages in being good in concept but needed a different team in putting it in practice. The religious themes are interesting but don’t really say all that much about faith. This film seems to conclude religion is based on fear and a desire for comfort which is an interesting conclusion that is a bit oversimplified. Then again, it is a Seth Rogan comedy so the fact we got this much at all is an achievement. Also, the less to be said about the characters who are meant to be stand-ins for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict or the many other stereotypes used in this film, the better. The themes are very closely intertwined with the film itself, so trying to ignore them is impossible especially since that is where the remaining jokes lie. And those jokes also aren’t that funny.
It’s no surprise to say that Sausage Party is an unenjoyable watch. The humor falls flat for anyone that doesn’t find sex, drugs and the word ‘fuck’ funny. Despite the animation being decent, it comes at the humanitarian expense of many real people and the themes and plot are juvenile. Honestly, the concepts of the film aren’t objectively awful and could be done well in another movie done by another team. However, the writing does the film a disservice, making it into a frat boy film that happens to be animated and have religious themes with the depth you would expect from someone making a hot dog bun/sausage sex joke.