‘Sausage Party’ – Food, sex, and R-rated animation on Netflix

From the studio that produced Zero Dark Thirty, American Hustler, and Foxcatcher comes Sausage Party (2016), the junk foodie fantasy that stirs American Pie, Toy Story, Logan’s Run, and every torture porn horror of the last decade into a raunchy paean to hedonism with more food puns than a Catskills grocer.

It is the kind of raucous, raunchy animated film you can image Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg hatching with buddy Jonah Hill while getting baked at James Franco’s pad and riffing on the snacks laid out for their munchee gorge.

Rogen voices Frank, the gourmet hot dog awaiting his inevitable ascension to food heaven on the Fourth of July holy days, and Kristen Wiig is Brenda, his hot dog bun soul mate. They’ve been resisting their urges to play out the inevitable visual pun of food cohabitation until it is sanctified by the gods (as they call the human consumers) when the dreams of paradise are shattered by a returned jar of honey mustard (Danny McBride) who returns from the other side with a shell-shocked revelation: the gods are monsters! His unexamined faith suddenly shaken, Frank goes on a quest to discover the meaning of existence with Brenda and a pair of combative specialty foods, Sammy Bagel Jr. (Edward Norton doing a dead-on Woody Allen nebbish) and Kareem Abdul Lavash (David Krumholtz), a Arabic snack awaiting the promised 77 virgin olive oils of the afterlife.

You may have heard there is a streak of religious satire and an atheist subtext. Put your mind at ease: it’s no subtext. It’s right there in the open, letting its freak flag fly with an uninhibited celebration of hedonism and a raunchy plea for skepticism of unquestioned dogma. That it’s expressed through an animated feature that plays like a profane parody of Pixar comedies—a calorie-rich spoof of Toy Story with grocery store perishables on an odyssey through a supermarket filled with self-segregated ethnic foods—is part of the audacity. Of course this isn’t the tight, polished screenplay of a well-tooled Pixar film but a shaggy take on the classic journey film, strewn with stoner humor, dumb snack puns, perverted sex fantasies, and F-bombs that show up right there in the opening song, a bizarre hymn of faith set to a tune composed by Disney’s own Alan Menken. Yep, he’s in on it too.

It’s astounding it even got made. For a culture accused of depraved values and anti-religious messages, Hollywood is resistant to giving Atheism the same respect it extends to any religious faith. Sausage Party manages to celebrate skepticism and secularism while embracing a message of respect and tolerance. Pretty good for an R-rated animated feature flooded with profanity, sexual innuendo, and a perverse parody of modern horror films; if food could talk, imagine how it would scream while it’s being peeled, sliced, boiled, fried, and masticated! And in the final act, after going to war against the false gods, the innuendo gives way to an animated bacchanal. It gives all new meaning to the term food orgy. Clearly, this is not for kids.

Conrad Vernon (director of the zippy, whimsical Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted) helms with first time feature director Greg Tiernan (a veteran of Thomas the Tank Engine) and they embrace the anything-goes spirit. Not that everything hits—jokes fall flat and visual gags go for ribald outrageousness over inventiveness—but the gags come fast and furious and the cast of co-conspirators (the voice cast also includes Michael Cera, James Franco, Jonah Hill, Bill Hader, Salma Hayek, Nick Kroll, Danny McBride, Craig Robinson, and Paul Rudd) brings the right spirit to the enterprise.

Rated R

Streams for a limited time on Netflix

Also on Blu-ray and DVD and on SVOD through Amazon Video, iTunes, GooglePlay, Vudu and/or other services. Availability may vary by service.
Sausage Party [DVD]
Sausage Party [Blu-ray]

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Enjoy the Red Band (R-rated) trailer:

The Blu-ray and DVD releases include with the featurette “How Did This Get Made?” plus improvised line outtakes and a food gag reel. The Blu-ray offers three additional featurettes and the “Seth Rogen’s Animation Imaginarium” advance promo.


Sean Axmaker is a Seattle film critic and writer. He writes the weekly newspaper column Stream On Demand and the companion website, and his work appears at RogerEbert.com, Turner Classic Movies online, The Film Noir Foundation, and Parallax View.

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