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“Sausage Party” movie review

By Jeff Boudreaux

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     In “Sausage Party,” an allegorical tale pertaining to the very-real trials and tribulations of groceries, the longtime collaborative team of Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg deliver a fresh (no pun intended) and very funny, adults-only animated film concerning the current state of the world…derived solely from the vantage points of products sold in a supermarket. Notice that I didn’t mention the word “food.” Yes, it’s true that the hero in our story is a tall frankfurter named…well Frank (Seth Rogen) and that his one true love is Brenda (Kristen Wiig), the curviest hot dog bun in the pack. If the sexual overtones are already hitting you over the head, you’re not alone, but be forewarned that it’s only the “tip” of the iceberg.

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     The delightfully devious minds of this film’s creators delve so much further, by developing an entire world based on disseminating the social, cultural and racial differences of whatever product you may chance to find in your local supermarket and they also happen to draw a line between the naiveté of the items sold on the store’s perimeter and the more militant attitudes that may abound among the shelf-life populace of aisles 3 through 18! In fact, you know you’re in for it when the primary antagonist to our perishable friends isn’t the consumer (i.e. the oft-discussed “gods”), but rather a douche that fell out of a female customer’s basket!

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     You see, this is the point where our two prospective lovers become separated due to a horrific accident. Actually, it’s more like a “cleanup on aisle 5” sort of thing! And even though they fell out of the same shopping cart, Frank and Brenda end up on opposite ends of the store. It’s obvious that they’ll have to cover lots of territory before they can make their way back to one another. Luckily there are new friendships to be forged within the store’s unrelenting corridors, and we get to meet some pretty interesting groceries. There’s Teresa (Salma Hayak), a taco who appreciates Brenda’s curvy figure just as much as Frank did, if not more, as well as the wise old Native American bottle of “Firewater” (Bill Hader) who was there first (of course). Yet nothing can prepare you for the entrance of a wheelchair-confined, twisted wad of chewing gum modeled after Stephen Hawking. They all better just hope that they don’t encounter a newly juiced-up douche (Nick Kroll) who’s frankly, out for blood. The voice cast also includes frequent Rogen collaborators Jonah Hill, James Franco and Michael Cera.

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     Rogen’s film doesn’t just touch upon racial tensions; he blows them wide open. We hear numerous complaints about “crackers,” spewed by none other than a black box of instant grits (Craig Robinson), who has absolutely no trouble announcing himself (a hilarious nod to one of Sidney Poitier’s iconic film roles). There’s also representation of the oldest feud in history, involving two of Brenda’s cohorts from the “west bank of the bread aisle” that accompany her on her quest to reunite with the sausage, namely the Jewish “Sammy Bagel Jr.” (Edward Norton) and a Palestinian flatbread (David Krumholz) who proudly boasts of 77 bottles of extra virgin olive oil in the much-debated afterlife (i.e. once they’re out of the store and into the kitchen). Surprisingly, it’s a rather well-veiled secret that most of the market’s happy denizens will ultimately meet their fate by being ripped to shreds through sets of hungry teeth. (“They’re just children!” quips a sausage about the gods snacking on baby carrots.)

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     One thing that I am extremely thankful for is that we do not get to see what happens to the food once it’s down the hatch. One can only imagine that Rogen and Goldberg may already be plotting a sequel, which will cover all of the events post-digestion. God help us! If only those cocky groceries, with their “moving on to a better life” mantra would have heeded the warnings of the proselytizing, newly-returned jar of honey mustard (Danny McBride). That’s right, it’s the grocery equivalent of “Heaven is for Real,” only what lies in store for the food most certainly represents the opposite domain!

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     I can’t help but feel that this is a crowning achievement of sorts for Rogen and Goldberg, as the infinite avenue that is animation allows them to present an unbridled narrative for their humor, and the choice pays off in dividends. No race, nationality or religion is exempt from the film’s satire. However, to view an artist’s work that is so politically incorrect is rather refreshing. The filmmakers had a vision for what an unrestrained comedy should be, and it’s clearly a textbook example. Still, I wouldn’t be surprised if a blatantly un-pc comedy such as this manages to invoke some sort of controversy. There’s certainly never been a shortage of people with glass feelings. Although, I’ve always been a person that prefers to engage in laughter and amusement (and this certainly fits the bill), rather than spend my time looking for reasons to be offended.

*** (three out of four stars)

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