When you purchase a ticket for Seth Rogen’s Sausage Party — a tale of anthropomorphic food and religion — you are implicitly agreeing to be jackhammered by 90 minutes’ worth of dick jokes courtesy of Rogen and his friends (here, he shares screenplay credits with Kyle Hunter, Ariel Shaffir, and Evan Goldberg).
But you’re also placing a bit of a bet.
Is it possible to make dick jokes that go beyond the obvious hot dog and bun gag? Are there any other food objects as raunchy or as perfectly phallic as a hot dog? Will I get to see any food objects fuck a bagel? Will Rogen grant me a racist, sexist, blasphemous orgy involving starches, candy, and various cured meats?
The answer to all of those questions, which are clearly the ones keeping Americans up at night, is yes.
Sausage Party is a movie where the answers to any and all of life’s itchy, hairy problems can be found in or expressed with dick jokes. It makes Amy Schumer look like Ellen DeGeneres, Judd Apatow like Garry Marshall, and Superbad like Modern Family. The film takes every juvenile thought you’ve ever had about food, fucks it to death with a turnip, and makes you watch. It is a burst of equal-opportunity offensiveness.
And it’s one of the best movies I’ve seen this summer.
Sausage Party isn’t content with just being dumb
Amidst Sausage Party’s whirlpool of lurid sex jokes and on-those-nose gags — like a character who is a lesbian, Latina taco shell — is a story about religion and empathy.
The film’s central character is a hot dog named Frank (Rogen). Frank and his fellow hot dogs, as well as every other item in the grocery store (including his girlfriend, a bun named Brenda voiced by Kristen Wiig), see humans as benevolent gods who will take them to the Great Beyond. It’s said to be a place where they can shed their earthly wrappers and live glorious lives, and this mythology is helped along by a song from Disney great Alan Menken. But it’s threatened when Honey Mustard is returned to the store and attempts to tell the rest of the groceries about his experience.
And Frank believes him. Or believes him enough to try to find the truth about the gods.
Frank’s struggle is to figure out a way to communicate to his fellow foods what he believes in his heart to be right, and what he believes will save them. That maybe the story or stories everyone has been led to believe should be questioned.
On this journey, he’s accompanied by Brenda and other food refugees like Lavash, who’s obsessed with lubing his folds with extra virgin olive oil, and the plain and unremarkable Bagel, who believes Lavash and his friends like Baba Ganoush are illegally setting up camp in his aisle.
It’s not difficult to see our own reflections, our own relationship to faith in Frank’s trial — that we all have our own way we think or don’t think about God, and how difficult and contentious it’s become to talk with someone who doesn’t see eye to eye with you.
Sausage Party, despite what it would have you believe, is an earnest and at times tender human story — a contemplation on faith wrapped in many layers of raunch.
But when it’s dumb it’s oh-so-fantastic — and in some ways, similar to Toy Story
While it’s fascinating to see the film’s existentialist heart pulse and its thoughtfulness leap, Sausage Party’s true strength and its biggest selling point is its extreme humor. Rogen and his fellow screenwriters have become the Greek muses of vulgarity: Their level of filth is only matched by the expertise and innovation they exhibit in deploying it.
Disney and Pixar’s Toy Story is the comparison that comes to mind with Sausage Party — and not just in both films' slick animation or the idea that toys, like food, have a strange, adoring view of humans. In both stories, there’s extensive world-building at work.
The only difference is that Sausage Party’s world is, down to an atomic level, an exercise in crudeness.
The sausages talk about girth. Buns have boobs. Soy sauces and salsas speak in thick, lampoonish Asian and Latino accents. There are Nazi foods that want to eliminate the juices. Everyone hates the crackers. Tacos are lesbians. And you shouldn’t trust Tequila because Tequila is very date-rapey.
Then there’s what I consider to be Sausage Party’s seminal moment — an enduring, turgid food orgy where several types of foods are in, on top of, or pounding against each other — root vegetables rubbing their growths, carb-on-carb sex, grits fucking the hell out of crackers — while moaning enthusiastically like first-time performers in a cheap porno.
Really, there comes a point where you just have to admire Rogen and his collaborators’ commitment to this gag. Because you know this looney movie’s origin story begins with a fuzzy, druggy night and a dare. It’s nuts that anyone, including Rogen himself, decided to actually revisit its whackadoodle premise in the stern light of day and to dedicate months of their lives to it, relentlessly mining the deep, gray chambers in their brains for one more penis joke, one more gag involving food and genitalia, one more racist thing you can say about lunch.
While watching Sausage Party, I saw foods do so many intimate, sexual things to one another that my life will never be the same. But I also think I may have witnessed greatness.