Sausage Party‘s most charming quality is that it feels exactly like a group of 13-year-olds trying to entertain themselves, with excessive C-bombs and constant groan-worthy food puns — best exemplified by a tub of guacamole getting hit in the groin and shouting “Oof, got me right in the guac and balls!”
I still remember where I was the first time I heard Adam Sandler screeching “my neighbor’s dog has a four-inch clit” and “I looked at my asshole in the mirror today” in his “buffoon” voice on one of his CDs. I was about 13 and that was probably the hardest I’d ever laughed up to that point in my life. I nearly shook the nacho cheese stains off my oversized striped T-shirt. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen that comedic sensibility — of packing every sentence with at least four swear words, of trying to relate every thought back to dicks, twats, or sh*t — transposed so seamlessly to the motion picture as in Sausage Party. Mom and Dad are in bed, you guys, let’s swear a lot and smoke cigarettes until we cough!
So-stupid-it’s-funny humor is more like porn than art: It either gets you off or it doesn’t. I’ll take goofy and vulgar over staid and clever any day, as long as the vulgar goofiness is sufficiently bold. And Sausage Party is… mostly. Seth Rogen and his team of co-writers (Kyle Hunter, Ariel Shaffir, Evan Goldberg, Jonah Hill, with direction from Conrad Vernon and Greg Tiernan) do eventually flirt with something more profound, a sort of religious parable starring sentient food, with everything outside the store as the great beyond.
But they don’t quite have Trey Parker’s genius for combining sh*t puns and social commentary. (Does anyone?) And they never really answer their own big question. Consequently, the last few minutes of Sausage Party feel like a copout. The film doubles up on vulgar to make up for it (shades of the Team America sex scene), but overcompensating vulgarity isn’t nearly as fun as vulgarity for vulgarity’s sake. In fact, it’s kind of a betrayal. Vulgarity is for baring your deepest, sh*t-covered feelings, not deflecting them. Sausage Party is close to being an R-rated Cheech and Chong take on Toy Story 3, but it never builds to anything like the furnace scene. And if you aren’t scared of saying the C-word, you shouldn’t be scared of the existential.
Seth Rogen voices a hot dog named Frank (get it?), who, like all of the rest of his hot-dog buddies in the pack, dreams of the day when the “Gods” (grocery store shoppers) will one day remove them from the store and take them to the “promised land.” Which in their minds is like Heaven, where you also get to f*ck. In the promised land, the plastic keeping them fresh will finally be removed, and they’ll get to go raw dog (yes, they say “raw dog” explicitly, because of course) into the eager, waiting crevices of their shelf mates, the buns. Frank’s girlfriend, Brenda (the bun), is voiced by Kristen Wiig, and his friends include Carl (Jonah Hill) and a slightly malformed frank voiced by Michael Cera. “Don’t worry about it, buddy, you’ve got girth!” Frank reassures him.