Seth Rogen’s ‘Sausage Party’ skewers traditional animation, burns abound

"Sausage Party" | Sony Pictures Grade: B+
Sony Pictures/Courtesy
"Sausage Party" | Sony Pictures
Grade: B+

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You’ve got to admire Seth Rogen. This is the man who entered the name “McLovin’” into the pop culture lexicon. He then got on-screen (and probably off-screen) high with James Franco in an instant classic featuring the “dopest dope” ever smoked. Of course, a few years later, he got half of Hollywood wrapped up in a political frenzy concerning artistic freedom and North Korea.

This man also somehow got Alan Menken, composer of Disney’s 1990s Renaissance era, to write the score for “Sausage Party,” an animated film mostly consisting of sexual innuendos and questionable ethnic representations. Oh yeah, and it’s about a super horny hot dog and his equally horny grocery store pals.

It’s easy to overlook raunchiness in favor of more “highbrow” comedy, but strangely, Rogen, who developed the story with Jonah Hill and Evan Goldberg, has proven that a hot dog movie is the definition of his dare we say it — genius.

Rogen voices Frank, a hot dog peering out from his package at a grocery store. He, paired alongside his hot dog bun girlfriend Brenda (Kristen Wiig), hopes to be chosen by the “gods”so they can finally be happy together in the “Great Beyond.” According to the food, “gods” are humans and only the gods can take them to eternal paradise. However, as Frank later realizes, “the Great Beyond is bullshit and the gods are a bunch of monsters.” Yes, somehow this bizarre movie makes you question your religious beliefs.

When a fear-stricken Honey Mustard (Danny McBride) is returned to the store, he tells about the horrors he witnessed at the hands of the gods like the potato-peeling and nacho-melting as seen in the trailers but no one believes him. It then becomes Frank’s responsibility to warn his friends of the reckless violence that lies outside the store’s automatic doors.

It’s the Pixar spoof you never knew comedians had been dreaming up for ten years.

When foods aren’t seeing their friends being torn apart by vicious gods or fantasizing about getting into each other’s, um, packages, “Sausage Party” is devoted to making ceaseless jabs at Pixar and Disney. It opens with a foul-mouthed, overly joyous musical number dedicated to the gods and the virtues of the “Great Beyond”, complete with Busby Berkeley choreography. The Sony animation team surely dedicated countless hours (with a developing controversy on how many) to making the characters bounce and glow in supersaturated Pixar fashion.

Although maybe not entirely at Disney’s expense, the film also features absurd depictions of ethnic stereotypes. Salma Hayek voices Teresa del Taco, a pretty taco shell who stares at Brenda’s butt every chance she gets. Bill Hader voices Firewater, a slow-talking, prophetic Native American bottle of whiskey.

Thankfully, the ethnic representations aren’t all quite as gratuitous. Mr. Grits, played by Craig Robinson, tells how he and his fellow non-perishables were displaced by “cracker ass crackers” in their aisle (hello, gentrification). The Jewish Sammy Bagel Jr. (Edward Norton) and Muslim Kareem Abdul Lavash (David Krumholtz) learn to let go of their disagreements and finally get along. It’s all raunchy, palm-to-face comedy, but Rogen and friends manage to smarten it up.

Even with its more intelligent bits and admirable comedic ruthlessness, the film is self-indulgent at times (there has to be some sort of record for the most dick jokes within a 90-minute period). For instance, you’ll really want more of Nick Kroll as Douche if ever a douche could be a scene-stealer, it’s Kroll’s committed, full-bro portrayal of one but will ultimately wonder why he was there to begin with.

But we’ll just have to let Rogen take the only chance he’ll get to presumably make a longstanding teen boy’s fantasy come true. The writer’s meetings for “Sausage Party” were probably full of a lot of those. That said, the last ten minutes or so will undoubtedly make you rub your eyes and wonder what you just watched. (Hint: Cucumbers aren’t the only phallic shapes hanging around your local grocery store.) Yet, miraculously, you just can’t look away.

You really shouldn’t enjoy “Sausage Party.” Then again, you really shouldn’t enjoy a movie about an eternally high dude and his weed dealer, either. But Seth Rogen has made both happen. Goodness knows how.

Danielle Gutierrez covers comedy. Contact her at [email protected]. Tweet her at @dmariegutierrez.