Anyone remember Sausage Party? You know, the 2016 animated movie created by the duo of Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg? Well, I decided to give it a rewatch just for the fun of it. I know I reviewed this movie before after seeing it in the theater with my dad, but seeing how it is slowly fading into obscurity as an animated movie that came and went, I figured that I would talk about it again, maybe see how well it holds up, whether it’s deserving of praise, or is just better left as a distant memory. Before I talk about Sausage Party, let’s start from the beginning.
Before Sausage Party, theatrically-released computer-animated films were made with family audiences in mind. Dominating the market were Pixar and Dreamworks Animation for 3D family-friendly entertainment, as they churned out hit after hit. The idea of a computer-animated movie strictly for adults was not only thought of, it was deep water that studios were afraid to swim in. Needless to say, Rogen and Goldberg changed all that, if not for a moment. Almost six years later, and it still baffles me as to how and why Sausage Party was made. It was a hit when it came out, and I find myself watching it when I am in the mood for something raucous.Though could I see it as something that would be made today? Yes… and no.
It is nothing new for an animated comedy like Sausage Party to offend audiences. There are F-bombs scattered throughout and extremely vulgar sex jokes (including the infamous food orgy scene that pushed its R-rating and made the bathtub orgy in Fritz the Cat seem tame in comparison) that would make Conservative Christians red in the face. Yet balancing out the filth is its satirical approach to religion, politics, and race, which could be described as both tasteless and in-your-face. Sausage Party does try to be clever in its approach with its horror-movie concept of food waiting to be picked by customers, who they see and refer to as “The Gods”, only for them to discover the truth once they leave the doors of the grocery store. It was a major selling point in the trailer and turned the “secret life of” animation plot point on its head. As a parody of Pixar films, it works. As a biting satire of world events, it tries almost too hard and comes off as a bit insensitive. Rogen and company must have thought if the balance of obscenity and relevancy worked in South Park, it would work here too. The one clever detail I noticed on this viewing, and still works are the characters of the non-perishables, who turn out to be the ones who invented the entire concept of The Great Beyond. Having Firewater (Bill Hader), Mr. Grits (Craig Robinson), and Twink (Scott Underwood) be caricatures of those who face prejudice (Native Americans, African-Americans, and the LGBT community, respectively) is a perfect representation of its themes. Other than that, you can connect the dots a mile away; an obvious example being the dilemma between a bagel named Sammy Bagel Jr. (Edward Norton doing his best Woody Allen impression) and Kareem-Abdul Lavash (David Krumholtz) representing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in not-so-subtle references.
As for how Sausage Party could not be made today. In a world that is more sensitive to racial issues and stereotypes, I don’t think someone like Hader would be down to voice a whiskey bottle reminiscent of Native American culture, and a bottle of Tequila with matching accents and everything. Even Krumholtz’s voice work could be deemed offensive. I am sure that it is no different than Sacha Baron Cohen playing a Kazakh native like Borat, especially since he uses that particular stereotype to expose prejudices from unwitting civilians. I’m sure Sausage Party is doing the same, but who knows if Rogen and Goldberg could get away with it now.
As for the film itself, would I say that Sausage Party deserves to be left in the rubble of forgotten animation? For what it represents, it is one of those movies that could still be watched as a stoner film, especially with the right substances. No Seth Rogen comedy is complete without a toke or two. Through all its shortcomings, it’s enjoyable under the right circumstances. I am still waiting for that sequel though.