Sausage Party is Unambitious, Which is Fine

Those familiar with the work of screenwriting, and sometimes directing, duo Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen, or simply with Rogen’s public image, might guess that their new film (written with Kyle Hunter and Ariel Shaffir) could be better enjoyed after the ingestion of THC. They would not be wrong. Sausage Party is the consummate pot-smoker’s movie; it’s vulgar but not unintelligent, lazy but not unfunny. While Sausage Party’s premise does set it apart from other comedies, little in its execution does the same. It mostly works; the jokes land but are not particularly fresh.

Sausage Party proceeds from a simple premise: it’s a “hard-R” version of Toy Story, with the toys replaced by anthropomorphic food and other supermarket items. Frank (Rogen), Barry (Michael Cera), and Carl (Jonah Hill) are three of a pack of sausages eagerly awaiting the day when “The Gods” (humans) will select them to be paired with their chosen buns (Kristen Wiig voices Brenda, the object of Frank’s affections); the sexual overtones of this pairing are not subtle, nor are they meant to be. When a returned jar of honey mustard (Danny McBride) warns Frank that paradise does not await food at the homes of The Gods, Frank embarks on a mission to discover and reveal the truth. Frank sets out for the liquor aisle with Brenda in tow, along the way meeting up with a nebbish-y bagel (Edward Norton), a conservative Lavash (David Krumholtz), and a sexy taco (Salma Hayek). The journey takes them up and down the various supermarket sections, allowing for myriad food-based ethnic jokes which are too silly to offend.

While the movie plays with some ideas about religion which are (unless you’re baked) not particularly profound, the real point here is talking food making dick jokes. Again, this mostly works but the movie is actually at it’s funniest when utilizing the kind of wordplay and punnery that would be at home in a Toy Story movie. The direction by Greg Tiernan and Conrad Vernon is able, but only that. Sausage Party doesn’t look great and most of the visual gags are limited to the aforementioned ethnic jokes. The best of the vocal performances are Norton, who could have a future in the medium, and Nick Kroll who brings the voice of his immortal Bobby Bottleservice character to bear for the part of a villainous douche (like, a literal douche). It’s lazy movie and not necessarily in a bad way. With its genuinely clever premise, intentional dumbness, general affability, and positive hit-to-miss joke ratio, Sausage Party seems destined to become a stoner classic.

Sausage Party (Columbia)
Director: Greg Tiernan, Conrad Vernon
Screenwriter: Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg, Kyle Hunter, Ariel Shaffir
Editor: Kevin Pavlovic
Starring: Seth Rogen, Kristen Wiig, Jonah Hill, Bill Hader, Michael Cera, James Franco, Danny McBride, Craig Robinson, Paul Rudd, Nick Kroll, David Krumholtz, Edward Norton, Salma Hayek
English/R/88 min.

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