A CGI movie for adults!? Surely mine eyes deceive me! Lee and Alex review Sausage Party.
While we don’t often bestow the same praise for the blatantly allegorical movie as we do the subtly allegorical movie, there is definitely a place for this kind of film (don’t tell the religious filmmakers), it just depends on the message and what is the best way (or the most fun way) of delivering that message to the audience.
Sausage Party is aware its message is loud, messy, morally ambiguous and debatably useful information, and understands that to push such it would need an equivalent movie with a shiny coat of irreverent humour and a smack-bang up-to-the-minute reflection on what adult humour is at exactly this time and date. On this side of things, the movie really works. It knows its audience, contextually it knows who it’s trying to convince, and it does a good job targeting them with a story that’s simple to follow and excessive enough to provoke conversation.
The message is also pretty good (basically taking aim at religious institutions and working their way up and down from there), backed up on a number of levels by smart meta-commentary on the difficulties in lecturing others and a knowing handling of stereotypes that are, yes, designed to offend and generalise but, yes, that’s the point because, yes, that’s how small these problems should be. Very little cheap shots taken; everything’s mostly above board and we’re even given not just pondering questions to ponder but also some hilarious, gratuitous solutions to how the world can be a better place at the very end.
At times it does lecture however, contrary to its own narrative’s lessons, and it most certainly will suffer a fate of becoming anachronistic for future generations. Not necessarily in its morals (though we can hope we won’t need films like this in our super Utopian future we’re building) but certainly in its delivery style (it’s crammed with Rogenisms which, while not bad, certainly won’t stand the test of time) and some of the political debates it dances around that, resolve pending, many future generations won’t quite click with.
The writing, outside some clever puns and connections with reality, also suffers not being clever enough to warrant a re-watch, with very few likable or identifiable characters to draw you back in with. Stereotypes are little more than one-note jokes that, while definitely funny first time around, definitely won’t be the second time. This is all more an issue with allegorical stories in general, as they often rely on generalised players rather than fully-fleshed characters to allow their message to be as widely applicable as possible.
Sausage Party has a lot of great things to say, and should definitely be seen even if the message is off and the gratuitous nature of the beast can be off-putting to those not already precondition or desensitised. Great films, however, should be more than just an on-point message and a couple of jokes, which unfortunately bars Sausage Party’s entry to that Backstreet Boys dance party in the sky; “The Great Beyond” indeed.
Superbad mixed with Toy Story minus the charm of either movie is how I would describe Sausage Party, the latest Seth Rogen comedy. With a plot based around what happens to food after it leaves the supermarket, one might think it has the makings of an unforgettable gem, but unfortunately, this is not the case. Despite this film’s beautiful animation and original story, the rare moments of comedy could not save it from its lack of humor, blatant social commentary, and mishandling of hilarious actors.
Let’s stick with the positives though: the beautiful animation is something that cannot be ignored. I was amused with how the color scheme of the entire movie changes from grayish, when the humans are on screen, to colorful and bright when the food is on screen. The colors also turn ominous when food is in the hands of humans, and these visual cues really add flavour to the movie’s tone.
Something else that the film must be given props for is its original concept. At the beginning, the hot dogs flirting with the buns was hilarious, the musical bit that opened up the movie was very entertaining, and everything felt novel.
The stacked cast of actors, which included Seth Rogen and the usual suspects in his movies, were actually one of the best aspects of the film when they were involved. My favourite character was Douche, voiced by Nick Kroll. Douche was one of the raunchiest, most hilarious characters in this movie and his jokes never failed to land, unlike many other character’s jokes as these were often too serious in tone. The film often introduces fun characters like Douche, but never gives them anywhere near the screentime of Seth Rogen and Kristen Wiig’s characters, which is a shame.
The serious tone of the film is often a serious problem. Besides some raunchy humor at the beginning of the film, the jokes the writers tried to include with all the social commentary were funny maybe once, but after the third or fourth time they were repeated felt forced. By the seventh repeat, you get it, stereotypes are stereotypes and you just want to move on and have fun again.
By the end of the movie, the novelty of an animated film about food dying and cussing wore off and it seemed like even the writers knew their jokes were running thin so they turned it up a notch to make sure the viewer remembered this forgettable movie. The final scenes see the film taken to a whole new level of raunchiness but like the rest of the movie, the writers were going for hilarious, but only got to mediocre.
[Alex’s review was originally posted on 28/08/2016]