BY VINCENT ABBATECOLA
Over the past couple of decades, we have been given an abundance of animated films that have become classics. To name a few, Disney gave us “Beauty and the Beast,” “Aladdin,” and “The Lion King”; Pixar gave us the “Toy Story” films, and DreamWorks gave us “Shrek,” “Shrek 2,” and “Chicken Run.” These are films that audiences of all ages can love, and viewers who grew up with these films can enjoy passing them down to their children.
The same can’t be said for directors Greg Tiernan and Conrad Vernon’s computer-animated comedy, “Sausage Party,” as this film delivers the antithesis of countless animated movies we have seen before. With its hilarious voice cast and uproariously bonkers story, this film offers some of the best laughs and shocks of 2016 cinema.
In a supermarket named “Shopwell’s,” all of the groceries view humans as gods and dream of being purchased by them to be taken to “The Great Beyond.” However, when a hot-dog sausage named Frank (Seth Rogen) finds out what happens to food once it goes home, he sets out on a journey to warn his friends about the fate that’s in store for them.
As the main character, Seth Rogen brings us his lovable, laid-back personality. But even though this is a personality we’ve seen in many of his previous films, having him voice an R-rated animated character gives it a bit of freshness, as it’s something we haven’t seen him do before. And let’s face it, who else would you picture in the starring voice role in a movie such as this?
Joining Rogen is a slew of other humorous voice performances, including Kristen Wiig as a hot-dog bun named Brenda, Michael Cera as a hot-dog sausage named Barry, Salma Hayek as a taco named Teresa, David Krumholtz as a lavash named Kareem Abdul Lavash, and Bill Hader as a bottle of liquor named Firewater. But probably the best supporting voice role is Edward Norton as Sammy Bagel, Jr., in which Norton uses a spot-on Woody Allen impression, complete with the director’s comical neuroticism we’ve seen in his acting roles.
The score of the film is composed by Alan Menken and Christopher Lennertz, and the use of Menken is total genius. As many of us know, he wrote the classic music and songs for many of Disney’s animated films, which makes his transition to an R-rated animated film all the more uproariously twisted. The film’s original song, “The Great Beyond,” opens the movie as we learn about the daily ritual of song the food goes through; and although the movie isn’t a musical, starting the film with a song is a perfect way to bring us into the brilliant absurdity of the movie.
What’s great about the screenplay from Rogen, Evan Goldberg, Kyle Hunter, and Ariel Shaffir is that, instead of just coasting on the concept of an R-rated film focusing on talking grocery products, there is a degree of cleverness and intelligence embedded in the story. Although the film’s message may not be particularly subtle, it’s nevertheless executed in a way that’s original and consistently funny.
One of the best aspects of the film is its all-inclusive offensiveness. Much akin to Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s long-running animated television show, “South Park,” the screenwriters are indiscriminate in whom they target for jokes. You may feel bad at times for laughing at what you’re watching, but you’ll find it impossible not to crack up.
What directors Greg Tiernan and Conrad Vernon do is take years of family-friendly animated films, gleefully toss the wholesomeness out the window. With a concept as out-there as this, Tiernan and Vernon succeed in doing whatever they can to get the most out of it, and they deliver the laughs at a ferocious pace.
While the movie as a whole is hysterical, the directors crank it up considerably in the last five minutes of the film, just when you think the story can’t get any more outrageous than it already is. In those minutes, there’s a sequence that is so unrestrained in its R-rated humor, you will be shocked and unable to breath from laughing until the scene ends.
It’s rare that a movie makes me laugh as much as “Sausage Party” did. And as the comedy of the summer, it’s deliciously tasteless.
Final Grade: A-