SXSW Review: SAUSAGE PARTY
There is nothing redeemable about Sausage Party, other than how hard it made me laugh. It's a movie filled with racial stereotypes, juvenile humor, raunchy sex and utter stupidity, and I loved every second of it.
Sausage Party is probably the most authentically work-in-progress Work-In-Progress screening I've seen at a festival - there were entire segments of story that featured unfinished, sketchy animation. Under those circumstances, it still managed to charm a theater full of viewers, because the movie is complete in its story and spirit. It's also a complete work of nonsense, but complete nonetheless.
Where to begin? Frank (Rogen) is one in a package of hot dogs waiting on the shelves of a local grocery story. Waiting for what? For The Great Beyond, that magical moment when The Gods (hungry humans) purchase a product and take it outside the store, where the sausage, or bagel, or bottle of curry ketchup, can fulfill its sweet destiny. All of this is foretold in a song the groceries sing every morning, as the fluorescent lights flicker on and the market opens for business. Frank is most excited for the moment that he and his fated bun (Kristen Wiig as Brenda) will become one, and as many sexual sausage-in-bun jokes you're predicting the film can make, go ahead and double that number.
Alas, Frank and Brenda's future is forestalled when disaster strikes the store, and Frank begins to realize that the outlook for a piece of processed meat isn't as rosy as he's been led to believe. As he starts to doubt the word of The Gods and the inevitability of The Great Beyond, Brenda digs in her heels, determined to stick to her faith in spite of mounting evidence that such scripture is a bunch of baloney.
So yes, there are some legitimate themes hiding under all of the dick jokes, questions of faith and skepticism, of fate and choice. There's also a bit of light sociopolitical examination, mainly among the different ethnicities of the food groups, and how they fight or work together to escape to The Great Beyond and out from the tedium of their supermarket shelves. David Krumholtz is Vash, a piece of Armenian lavash who finds himself very surprised to be working with Sammy Bagel, Jr. (Edward Norton doing a perfect Woody Allen). Salma Hayek is Theresa, the taco who has eyes for Brenda, and yes, all of the female characters are basically edible vaginas. There's even a wise Indian chief character portrayed, naturally, by a bottle of fire-water. It's a real problem. People are going to be so mad.
It's all so silly, so incredibly dumb, but it's also brand new. Sausage Party is visually inventive and absolutely courageous in its freedom from convention, its willingness to offend any and everybody. It's weird enough to feel nearly hallucinatory, raunchy enough to require an R-rating, foolhardy enough that I can hardly believe it exists.
Seth Rogen stated that the film was several years in the making, something of a "labor of love" for himself and Goldberg, and it's like, really, this movie? This movie about hot dog weiners bedding zaftig buns is your labor of love? But Sausage Party, against all odds, feels like it was made with love. It's bawdy and heinous, amazingly ill-advised, and people are going to hate it. But goddammit, this movie is funny.