Pixar's Toy Story was the animation that ushered in the renaissance in computer animation. Toy Story was such a seismic event and canonical movie that it has branched into not only a larger franchise but triggered a series of "secret life of" movies. Fish (Finding Nemo & Dory), monsters (Monsters Inc.), video games (Wreck It Ralph), cars (Cars and Cars 2) and most recently pets (The Secret Life of Pets) all gave us humans a peek behind the curtain. Now imagine that the Pixar writers room dosed themselves with psychedelic drugs and went to their local supermarket to quench their munchies; the result is the perverse hilarity of Sausage Party and the terrifying thought that our food is alive as we’re devouring it.
When Frank (a sausage voiced by Seth Rogen) and Brenda (a bun voiced by Kristen Wiig) are about to finally break out of their packages to embrace, they received a warning. A returned jar of Honey Mustard (voiced by Danny McBride) claims (before leaping to his death) that the human 'gods' who liberate them from the market are in fact monsters. Separated from their purchased friends in the futile attempt to stop Honey Mustard, Frank and Brenda must seek out the non-perishable Firewater (Bill Hader) for the truth. Outside the market Barry (Michael Cera) the sausage must attempt to escape the fate of the rest of his trolley.
Directors Greg Tiernan and Conrad Vernon and their team of collaborators do such an amazing job of creating character designs to emphasise maximum cuteness they gut punch you when things turn horrific, seeing each food stuff meet its bitter end. The scale, textures and landscapes of the different areas of the market create great alternative (yet confined) settings for the unfolding actions and to represent the different stages of the character's awakening. Homage to westerns, Oliver Stone acid trips in The Doors, 2D classic Disney animation flashbacks via an 80s slasher movie, Stargate and Saving Private Ryan (particularly) had me absolutely cackling. In a separate subplot where Barry (Michael Cera) the sausage escapes the slaughterhouse that his previous trolley of food is destined for, you get to understand the perspectives of the survivors out there in the world. It's an unbelievably graphic, bleak and sadistically hilarious world. When you see the perspectives of the last slice of pizza, a half used toilet roll and used condom it’s both delightful and disgusting. Score from Grammy, Oscar and Tony award winning composer Alan Menkin brings pedigree and a wholesomeness to the depravity of the lyrics.
In this haze of political correctness and selective blindness to comedic intent; watching straight up absurdity in the form of racial, religious and gender stereotypes is a damned relief. After nearly ten years of development writers Kyle Hunter, Ariel Shaffir, Rogen, Evan Goldberg and Jonah Hill have crafted a fully loaded comedy that's able to traverse the terrain of the infantile, to the insightful and observational. While some may dismiss Sausage Party as another 'stoner comedy,' not even the high quotient of dick jokes can blanket the intelligence. Sausage Party tackles the philosophy of belief; especially the blissful inner peace and comforting purpose of higher powers; the technological paranoia of the "programmer" addressed in the Matrix Trilogy, so too inter-dimensional travel. If only we could be a fly on the wall for Richard Dawkins, Neil deGrasse Tyson and Stephen Hawkins' viewing of this movie.
The voice cast featuring Rogen, Wiig, Hill, Cera, James Franco, McBride and Paul Rudd all bring their groceries to life. Hader's Firewater, Craig Robinson's Mr Grits, Edward Norton's Sammy Bagel Jr and Salma Hayek's Teresa Taco are unmistakably the stand out performances. Casting Nick Kroll as an angry 'Douche' is both inspired but completely obvious.
Sausage Party should have you laughing out loud and shaking your head in awe. Try slipping a sausage into a bun the same way ever again.
Blake Howard - follow Blake on Twitter here: @blakeisbatman
Directed by : Greg Tiernan and Conrad Vernon
Written by: Kyle Hunter (screenplay) & Ariel Shaffir (screenplay) & Seth Rogen (screenplay/story) & Evan Goldberg (screenplay/story) & Jonah Hill (story)
Alistair Abell ... Mariachi Salsa / Gefilte Fish (voice)
Iris Apatow ... Berry Good Candies / Grape #3 / Coconut Milk (voice)
Sugar Lyn Beard ... Baby Carrot / Cookies (voice)
Michael Cera ... Barry (voice)
Ian James Corlett ... Apple / Tickilish Licorice / Relish / Bag of Dog Food (voice)
Michael Daingerfield ... Chunk Munchers Cereal / Light Bulb / Indian Chutney (voice)
Brian Dobson ... Italian Tomato / Lettuce (voice)
Michael Dobson ... Queso (voice)
James Franco ... Druggie (voice)
Bill Hader ... Firewater / Tequila / El Guaco (voice)
Ian Hanlin ... Beet (voice)
Salma Hayek ... Teresa (voice)
Maryke Hendrikse ... Popped Cherry Mixer / Plum #1 / Loretta Bun / Frozen Fruitz (voice)
Jonah Hill ... Carl (voice)
Anders Holm ... Troy (voice)
Nick Kroll ... Douche (voice)
David Krumholtz ... Lavash (voice)
Danny McBride ... Honey Mustard (voice)
Lauren Miller ... Camille Toh / Tampon (voice) (as Lauren Miller-Rogen)
Edward Norton ... Sammy (voice)
Nicole Oliver ... Sally Bun / Ice Cream / Watermelon / Female Shopper #1 (voice)
Craig Robinson ... Grits (voice)
Seth Rogen ... Frank / Sergeant Pepper (voice)
Paul Rudd ... Darren (voice)
Kelly Sheridan ... Roberta Bun / Grape #2 / Female Shopper #2 (voice)
Jason Simpson ... Plum #2 / Beer Keg / Fat Guy / Fit Man (voice)
Greg Tiernan ... Potato / Noodle Soup (voice)
Vincent Tong ... Pislitz Chips / Juice Box / Jamaican Rum (voice)
Scott Underwood ... Gum / Twink / Krinkler's Chips / Pizza (voice)
Conrad Vernon ... Toilet Paper / Sauerkraut / Catcall Sausage / Grape #1 / Beer Can / Pop Bottle (voice)
Sam Vincent ... Old Pork Sausage / Refried Beans / Sandwich / Pop Tart / Licorice Rope (voice)
Kristen Wiig ... Brenda (voice)
Harland Williams ... Ketchup / Drug Dealer / Baba Ganoush (voice)
Blake Howard is a writer, a podcaster, the editor-in-chief & co-founder of Australian film blog Graffiti With Punctuation. Beginning his criticism APPRENTICESHIP as co-host of That Movie Show 2UE, Blake is now a member of the prestigious Online Film Critic Society, sways the Tomato Meter with Rotten Tomatoes approved reviews. See his articulated words and shrieks (mostly) here at Graffitiwithpunctuation.com and with DarkHorizons.com & 2SER Sydney weekly on Gaggle of Geeks.