Spoilers may follow
Even before watching Sausage Party, a dark cloud looms over the film, one that might turn potential viewers away. The animation studio behind it, Nitrogen Studios, had apparently grossly mistreated its animators, forcing them to work unpaid overtime and threatening them with termination. Half of the animators even went uncredited. A disgusting thing to hear about, especially with the hard work that goes into animation.
Sausage Party, despite what went on behind the scenes, has an oddly interesting premise. Unbeknownst to the human race, the food products of a supermarket are sentient, and they believe the customers are gods who’ll take them to a utopia known as “The Great Beyond”. Frank the hot dog (Seth Rogen) and his hot dog bun girlfriend Brenda (Kristen Wiig) have been chosen by one of these “gods” but thanks to an incident involving a jar of honey mustard, they fall out of the shopping cart before they can be purchased. As the store closes, they try to find their way back to their own aisles, but during this journey, Frank learns the terrible truth about what humans really do to food.
Taking childish concepts and peeling them back to reveal darker implications has been done several times before, mostly by internet comedy, but it can still be interesting when done right. Everybody has seen advertisements where sentient food awaits being eaten, and everyone who has watched them has made jokes about why sentient food would want to die. Now, lo and behold, here is an entire movie exploring that joke and what it implies. As I have noted, the idea that the food wants to be purchased due to belief in a higher power is an interesting one, but the allegory that stems from this and dominates the film is still pretty obvious and heavy-handed.
Most people consider “adult cartoons” to be unending parades of swearing and bodily function jokes, even when we have shows like Bojack Horseman that actually do feel genuinely mature. Sausage Party, however, has the characters frequently curse like sailors, with not a second going by without the “f” word. That is utterly exhausting and distracting, but one use of audacity is actually amusing. The best character in the whole movie is an evil literal douche played by Nick Kroll, who drains the juices of other products like a vampire, and at the end, controls a human by pulling his testicles. And yes, the rumours are true; the ending involves a food orgy that has to be seen to be believed. Still, in terms of movies about inanimate objects becoming rebellious, it isn’t as funny as Maximum Overdrive.
Sausage Party has some laughs here and there, and is worth a watch for curiousity’s sake, but it is still nothing more than average. As adult cartoons go, it’s better than, say, Warren United, but has really nothing that makes it stand out. And it’s a shame about its animators, too.