Sausage Party (2016)
Written by Kyle Hunter, Ariel Shaffir, Seth Rogen, and Evan Goldberg
Directed by Conrad Vernon & Greg Tiernan
Sausage Party holds the rare achievement of being the first American computer-animated film to receive an R-rating. Despite the character designs and colorful marketing materials, this is most definitely not a picture a child should ever watch, and no adult should waste their time either. Our main characters, Frank the Hot Dog and Brenda the Buns dream of finally giving in to their carnal desires and being together once one of the gods (customers) chooses to take them to the Promised Land. The grocery store products’ ideas about what happens when you are chosen are skewed and much worse than they realize. Once Frank discovers this knowledge, he wants to do everything he can to stop his friends from being devoured.
Within the first ten minutes, you realize Sausage Party is going to be vile. There is a morning song, akin to The Lego Movie’s “Everything Is Awesome” yet peppered with profanity and to make things even worse chock full of offense racial stereotypes. The Asian food has buckteeth, comically slanted eyes and talks in an offensive accent. The Sauerkraut goosesteps with a Hitler jar leading them and talking about “Death to the Juice.” If this were the only instance of this focus on racial humor, it would be bad enough, but the film decides to make this a key component of its humor.
We go on to get a dishonest bottle of Tequila, a Bagel and Lavash arguing about displacement in their aisle, and a bottle of whiskey named Firewater complete with facepaint, a headdress, broken English, and a peace pipe. The focus of humor with these characters appears to be “Hey, don’t they sound funny?” I was reminded of the worst of Family Guy when they decide to punch down with their humor with no apparent reason other than laziness. There could be some insight about race made using these characters, but instead, they are used for lame jokes and stupid puns.
The main plot is a pretty obvious metaphor for a character becoming an atheist and trying to share the truth with believers. I would have no problem with this plot except it’s done so ham-handedly and obvious. There’s no nuance to the story which I expected because this isn’t an animated film for children. It’s evident the filmmakers didn’t change their story development beyond whatever junk Dreamworks Animation churns out. Like the jokes, everything is on the nose and leaves no room for interpretation or ambiguity.
The worst element of the film is the male rape jokes that the writers appear to think are hilarious. Nick Kroll plays Douche, a feminine product who can’t wait to be used by the gods. Through a series of accidents, he ends up tossed in the trash and leaking his fluid. Douche comes across a juice box, leaking out from what would anatomically be its crotch. Douche proceeds to force the equivalent of oral sex on the juice box and tear his body apart after he drains him. This is meant to be funny. In the third act final battle, Douche forces himself into the pants of a grocery store employee and forcibly inserts his nozzle into the man’s rectum, pulling on his scrotum as a means of “driving” the man. I had thought we were getting to a point where male rape was being added to the list of content that isn’t funny, it’s, in fact, a perpetuation of homophobia and gay panic. You would assume the people involved in the making of this movie are “woke” about this fact but apparently not.
The computer animation is of high quality, and you can tell a lot of work went into the worldbuilding and character design. The directors and producers didn’t appreciate the hard work of the animators because droves them were left out of the end credits, and many of them went unpaid for dozens of hours of overtime. This is becoming a pretty common problem in the world of animation where these skilled technicians and artists are worked to the bone for meager pay compared to the budgets and box office of these projects.
If this film had not been part of my Annapurna marathon, I wouldn’t have watched it, and now that I have I don’t plan on ever watching it again.