Sausage Party (2016)

93

I will go ahead and call this the greatest human achievement in history. Better than the pyramids. Better than the Renaissance. Better than Citizen Kane or The Godfather. Sausage Party is undeniably the peak of human creativity, and there has never been a more superb expression of artistic integrity than this film. Who knew that the key to the meaning of life was hidden in a film where groceries commit the most deranged and disturbing acts known to mankind? There isn’t any point in reviewing this as a film, because I truly believe that this is a transcendent experience, and Sausage Party will be studied and analyzed by scholars, on our planet and on the planets of the aliens that inevitably invade us. If there was ever a time for extraterrestrials to visit us, it would be now, in a world where Sausage Party exists.

I apologize. This film has left me in complete shock, and I’m not entirely sure what I just watched. To call Sausage Party traumatizing is an enormous understatement, and I am not entirely sure why this film was even made – the world was perfectly fine without this film. Everyone got along, and we were headed towards eventual world peace. Now Sausage Party has been made, and I expect nuclear war will soon fall upon us a result of this film. Sausage Party is neither a good film, nor is it a bad film. To be perfectly honest, I am not entirely sure if this was a film or not. I am still in denial, and I truly believe that those ninety minutes were spent in some elaborately lucid nightmare. One that I am still hoping to wake up from soon enough. I think this film should be offered with free psychotherapy, and I assume that the majority of the audience may develop post-traumatic stress disorder after seeing it.

However, Sausage Party is also one of the most effortlessly great animated films of the year. I actually cannot believe that in a year where we have films like Zootopia, a sweet and moving film about social issues, and Kubo and the Two Strings, a film that went beyond the limits of what can be done with animation, the most memorable animated film is one like Sausage Party. That isn’t to even vaguely imply that I didn’t love every single moment of this film – and despite the fact that it left me incredibly traumatized, it would be wrong to not acknowledge the true audacity of this project, and in a cinematic era where we rely on sequels, remakes and reboots, a film like Sausage Party reminds us of two things: that Seth Rogen has a very dirty mind, but more importantly, that there is still some hope for cinema, hiding in plain sight.

Sausage Party has a simple premise (for what it’s worth) – a group of food products get lost and need to find their way back to their respective aisles. All of them hope to be bought and taken to the heavenly location known as “The Great Beyond” – but they are unaware that once they have been taken off the shelf, they are to be killed and eaten in horrible ways. Our protagonist is a sausage named Frank (voiced by Rogen) who is in love with a hot-dog bun named Brenda (voiced by Kristen Wiig), and it becomes clear as to where this is going. A wide array of bright and colourful characters show up throughout the film, some of them voiced by some respectable talent (how Rogen managed to lure the elite Edward Norton to voice a character in this film is both shocking and inspiring).

It is clear as to what the intention behind Sausage Party was – it clearly set forth to satirize Pixar’s obsession with giving emotions to non-sentient objects. This was a film waiting to happen – and luckily for us, it was given a fully-formed, excellently crafted film that serves as a biting satire, but refrains from being a mean-spirited and slacking parody. This is what a parody should be – this is most certainly what Mel Brooks would do if he want given the opportunity to satirize a Pixar film (but perhaps he would’ve kept it a little bit less…overly sexualized – I just wish this film had rather chosen to be a bit more tactfully risqué rather than being outright insane when it comes to sex). I thought that beneath the gross-out exterior, this film was actually incredibly intelligent – there is so much smart political and social humour, and I think Sausage Party deserves a rewatch or two, because there are so many references and jokes hidden in the background, one viewing doesn’t do it justice.

Sausage Party is such a bizarre film, but what I like the most about it is how it embraces how bizarre it is – there wasn’t any reason for this film to be made – it wasn’t going to make a ton of money, and it was certainly going to be controversial, and there would always be backlash to how it initially seems so mean-spirited towards much beloved animated films. This film was a passion project – and the way that it manages to get a cast comprised of A-list talent, and the fact that Sausage Party was directed by Conrad Vernon (who has been involved in the creation of classic animated films like Shrek, Madagascar and Antz) and Greg Tiernan, two men who clearly know the world of animated films, having worked for some of the big player studios in animation. This is the rare parody that is equally as good (and if not somewhat better) than the majority of the films that it satirizes – and for that, Sausage Party deserves endless acclaim.

I praise Sausage Party, but that doesn’t mean that it wasn’t a traumatizing film – but it wasn’t disturbing in the way that you feel physically sick – rather, it was so shocking and outrageous, it actually is brilliant, and rather than producing feelings of dread and repulsion, it just draws out roaring laughter and gasps of disbelief. It is a film that I think should most certainly be seen to be believed, and the ending is just something to behold.

Of course, don’t make the same mistake that many parents have made with this film – do not let your children see this film. The characters may look cute and the story may seem friendly and fun, but it will disturb your children. It won’t just teach them things they shouldn’t see at their young age – it will damage them psychologically, and turn them into broken adults, and they will wonder why their parents made the mistake of letting them experience this film just because it looked like the endless flurry of animated films that come out annually. This is not a film for children, and I love that – animation should be allowed to be made for older audiences as well. Sausage Party is one of the most bizarre, shocking and strange films you will ever see – and it may just be one of the most audacious I’ve seen in years.

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