Sausage Party

 

 

 

In this adults-only cartoon co-scripted by Seth Rogen, bangers team up with buns in a less than chucklesome mash-up.

 
Sausage Party

The eyes have it: a potato meets its end

 

With the phenomenal success of animation in recent years it was perhaps inevitable for a so-called adult edition to come along. Of course, there is nothing new about grown-up cartoons (the Japanese have been at it for years), but since the advent of feature-length computer-animation it is still something novel. And who better to bring a touch of sauce to the proceedings than co-producer and co-writer Seth Rogen, who knows a thing or two about adult humour? He plays a sausage called Frank who, with his comrades-in-wrapping, leers at the adjacent buns just gasping for a good filling. They are all in a gargantuan supermarket called Shopwell’s and every product is under the illusion that they are ruled by the strange gods they see parading up and down the aisles and that one day, soon, they will be released from their confinement and become the masters of their own destiny. Or, in Frank’s smutty vision, get to sink his girth within the inviting aperture of his favourite hot dog bun Brenda (voiced by Kristen Wiig). If the innuendo is initially obscure the repeated metaphors come so thick and fast that even the dumbest schoolboy will eventually get the joke. But with a limit to the amount of puns that they can harvest about sausage penetration, the filmmakers embark on a higher agenda concerning the meaning of God and the tolerance of food products for different tastes than their own.

 

Opening with a Broadway-like number in which the goods greet the new day and their customers, the film gets down to its brass tacks without a minute to lose. What is curious, though, is that our characters, like mayflies, must have pretty short lifespans in order for the story to make sense. However, there are some more senior products – the ‘non-perishables’ – headed by Bill Hader’s Firewater, who is a Native American bottle of liquor with a voice plucked out of a 1950s’ TV Western. Indeed, the stereotypes abound and flirt dangerously with being ethnically offensive. Thus we have Salma Hayek vocalising a lesbian taco shell, David Krumholtz as Kareem Abdul Lavash (a Middle Eastern lavash, or unleavened flatbread) and a bagel, courtesy of Edward Norton, that sounds like Woody Allen. One can almost imagine Seth Rogen and his co-writers Kyle Hunter, Ariel Shaffir and Evan Goldberg rubbing their hands together in non-political glee as they dreamed up this stuff. And later, on the outside, we are greeted to the sight of a junkie indulging in a heroin trip and all sorts of foul detritus given their own voice (from a used condom to worse).

 

There are some good gags at the expense of the film’s set-up (when the goods plot their escape, an ice cream whimpers: “I can’t run, I’ll melt”), but for the most part it’s a ragbag of anything-goes insanity with the accent on crudity. Some might dig the novelty of a foul-mouthed roll of loo paper, but the device wears thin after two minutes. Others might balk at the sight of Stephen Hawking as a regurgitated piece of bubblegum spinning around on a battery-operated wheelchair. Bubblegum?

 

Sadly, the potential of a whole supermarket at one’s creative disposal is somewhat wasted. One wonders what the creators of Pixar’s Toy Story could have done with the material. As it is, this relentlessly coarse escapade only achieves the odd original chuckle. A six-pack of beers beforehand might help.

 

JAMES CAMERON-WILSON

 

Voices of 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, Conrad Vernon, Iris Apatow.

 

Dir Conrad Vernon and Greg Tiernan, Pro Megan Ellison, Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg and Conrad Vernon, Ex Pro Jonah Hill, Screenplay Kyle Hunter, Ariel Shaffir, Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, Pro Des Kyle McQueen, Ed Kevin Pavlovic, Music Alan Menken and Christopher Lennertz.

 

Annapurna Pictures/Point Grey Pictures-Sony Pictures.

88 mins. USA. 2016. Rel: 2 September 2016. Cert. 15.