first_imgWell! This is a lot better than anyone had any reason to expect.The Seth Rogen/Evan Goldberg comedy movie “collective,” if you like, could easily be the most underappreciated yet popular filmmaking team working right now; in as much as their movies are generally popular and make money yet somehow manage to still feel like they’re being undersold. They make really funny movies (Knocked Up, Pineapple Express, This Is The End, Neighbors, The Night Before etc,) that movies make money and that audiences more or less seem to find widely funny; but they also do such a good job at affecting this loose, goofy, “we’re just wacky stoners making shit up as we go!” vibe that it’s easy to miss that there’s real insight and talent there.Case in point: Sausage Party looks and feels, deliberately, like a one-joke stoner premise: “Hey, what if we did one of those Pixar-type cartoons where a bunch of inanimate objects talk and have human emotions and personalities, but like… in our version they SWEAR and FUCK and get high!?” And if you want to take it as just that it more than fits into that definition and in that context it’s funny as all hell. In fact, going by joke-to-laugh ratio and in terms of sheer originality it’s easily the best Pixar spoof anyone has pulled off yet and probably the funniest genre-spoof period that anyone has pulled off since maybe the Naked Gun movies. It is, simply stated, piss-your-pants funny – both in that I laughed almost hard enough to do that AND in that it’s the sort of humor where “pissing your pants” would be an actual punchline.Now, what’s key to understanding how Sausage Party is not only funny but kind of brilliant is that it is, emphatically, a genuine spoof. Maybe not exactly a “satire,” but definitely a parody – specifically, a parody of the PIXAR animation brand and their go-to formula of projecting human voices, personas, and insecurities onto inanimate objects or talking animals. The premise even sounds like a typical Pixar setup (if they made a movie about groceries): The story takes place almost entirely in a supermarket where the food is all “alive” in an anthropomorphic sense, and the hero is Rogen as a hotdog named Frank who discovers the previously unknown truth that the humans who buy the food are taking it home to eat it and tries to warn everybody – in particular his girlfriend Brenda, who is of course a hot dog bun.The film’s main joke, then, is to take this premise and pack it full of all the quote-unquote “adult” stuff i.e. sex and body functions and concepts of race and gender as it relates to the “humanity” of the characters that Pixar and their imitators generally make an active point of avoiding. We’re conditioned, after all, to think of “bathroom jokes” as inherently juvenile, but the TRUE function of scatological humor as a tool of satire is to highlight the absurdities of fiction by zooming in on the stuff that fictional works leave out for effect. For example: King Kong instantly becomes a comedy if you so much as mention that he’s probably taking Volkswagon-sized gorilla shits all over New York (“Look out below!”)So just “a Pixar movie, but we’re taking the humanizing part all the way to the edge” is already a damn funny setup (to say nothing of wildly overdue considering how oppressively that aesthetic has come to dominate Western animation). But where Sausage Party rises to near-greatness is in recognizing that the other half of the Pixar and/or Pixar-influenced aesthetic is that it can never “only” be a talking car movie or a talking fish movie; it has to be some big poignant metaphor for fatherhood or growing up or some other neuroses of its animators. In that spirit, Rogen and company have decided that their one-joke talking food comedy is also a movie about religion – and in doing so, they elevate Sausage Party goes from being a funny distraction to something like an inheritor to the mantle of “Golden Age” South Park – i.e. back before South Park was just two middle-aged Broadway millionaires complaining about Millennials not laughing at their “politically incorrect” jokes.The “big idea” they’ve arrived at is that the food actually all think that the human shoppers are GODS taking their purchases off to some sort of grocery heaven; and since only fresh undamaged items gets bought the food has developed a full-blown theology where even though they’d all like to get out of their packages and explore and party and fuck (mostly fuck, since it’s a comedy) they suppress those desires because that’d make them “unclean” and no longer favored by the gods – meaning that Frank’s journey becomes not just telling everyone the truth but figuring out how to best impart a radical new doctrine of rejecting the “gods,” the afterlife and living for the moment.Subtle it’s not, but it’s probably the most effective comedy argument on behalf of atheism/agnosticism since The Invention of Lying. It would almost verge on being pretentious if the actual jokes weren’t purposefully aiming to be as lowbrow, schticky, and “Dad-jokey” as possible – basically wall-to-wall food puns, visual humor about food that looks like genitalia and how they’d fuck if they could, and just about every worn-out racial and ethnic caricature you can imagine from Jewish bagels to gay fruit to Salma Hayek as a horny lesbian taco to the German sauerkraut forming a fascist movement to exterminate “The Juice” – yeah, it’s like that.It’s the kind of stuff that feels like it should be super-offensive – and it’s certainly not MY place to tell anyone how they will or should react to it – but it’s also pointedly lacking any semblance of the show-offy self-righteous “punching-down” sensibility that you sometimes get from the usual suspects in Western animation. Just like how the atheism allegory is funny because they’re deflating the high-minded metaphor-mongering of the Pixar formula but also allows for some genuinely clever swipes at organized religion; gags like the Kosher food and the Halal food fighting over aisle territory or a bottle of “Firewater”-branded whiskey being a Native American shaman are mostly trading on the sheer shock-value of wheeling out old-time ethnic caricatures but also manages a knowing swipe at the real-world tendency to project ethnicity onto food products (and packaging.)Still, questions like those are fodder for the thinkpiece mill, which will surely be at work in the coming days. The bottom line for now is that Sausage Party is fucking hysterical – easily the funniest movie of the summer.3 ½ stars, believe the hype.last_img read more