**FINAL THOUGHTS HAVE BEEN ADDED IN AN UPDATE BELOW AFTER WATCHING THE FINISHED VERSION**
Last night, at 9:30, on a Monday, South By Southwest attendees were treated to a gratuitous showing of food porn that no one was ready for (and no, I’m not talking about my Instagram page). As a special treat, Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg showed a very raw, VERY unfinished Sausage Party cut to hungry audiences, who ate it up.
The last thirty minutes alone will leave animated lovers feeling dirty, shocked and ashamed (in a good way?), as stoner humor mixes with existential insanity in ways that lampoon race and broach religious understanding. How do you make a movie about food wanting to fuck have a weighty, Pixar-heavy undertone (Dixar filmmaking, as the film jokes)? Just ask Rogen and Goldberg (and their co-writers, Kyle Hunter and Ariel Shaffir).
Reviewing the film seems a bit hasty, given its harsh IN PROGRESS status, but welcome to the internet. We’re not just talking unfinished – Sausage Party was SUPER ROUGH, as entire scenes hadn’t even begun animation. Jokes can still be altered and frankly, the film’s climax – which will be very action heavy – was mostly barebones CGI, without full motion. Grey backgrounds were populated by stationary versions of the characters, as they moved like an army general might push around plastic soldiers on a 3D map. I’m extremely curious to see how everything looks when the film releases on August 12th, but for now, my analysis is more on tone, not visual artistry.
Seth Rogen voices the film’s lead, a sausage (hot dog) named Frank. As a packaged meat product living in Shopwell’s market, Frank dreams of being bought by one of the many Gods (humans), and taken to a Great Beyond (out the front doors). All food thinks they’re given a fulfilling life once through the sliding glass gates to eternity, but, when a jar of Honey Mustard (Danny McBride) gets returned one day, he insists that nothing is as believed.
No one listens, except for Frank, who almost dies when trying to stop Honey Mustard from killing himself. After the flour settles, Frank finds himself outside his package, along with Sammy Bagel Jr. (Edward Norton), Vash (David Krumholtz), some unleavened Middle-Eastern bread, and Brenda (Kristen Wiig), his sexy bun girlfriend. The others still dream of achieving eternity, but Frank demands the truth. Time to get answers or die frying.
For those who love a good pun, Sausage Party turns EVERYTHING into a food-related jest. Every possible saying involving food is rattled off, which always leads to said snack popping into frame. For example – “How do you like them apples?” followed immediately by a reaction from an actual Apple. No sentence of dialogue is left un-punified, from the easiest reference (Douche, an actual douche voice by Nick Kroll, is a total roid-head asshole), to reaching sketches you might find in a Zuckerberg spoof movie (Douche says “K, So,” which prompts a container of Queso to roll on-screen).
But, through Rogen and Goldberg’s vulgar charms, these cheesy (HA) quips are laced with foul-language and are somehow continually, obliviously endearing. We’re lulled into a false sense of security by Greg Tiernan and Conrad Vernon’s animated direction – expecting innocence – only to find every sexual food innuendo in the book thrown at you…and horrifyingly acted out.
Political correctness has never been something that Point Grey Pictures worried about (I mean, The Interview anyone?), and Sausage Party is no different. Food is used as a representation of stereotypes, from a lesbian taco voiced by Salma Hayek, to the Jewish stuffiness of Norton’s Woody Allen impression. Vash yearns for his 72 bottles of Virgin Olive Oil waiting in the beyond, while Craig Robinson voices a box of grits along the lines of Uncle Ben’s brand. Surface-value representation is simple, but equally critical of all races/classifications, and fearlessly non-caring.
Some might cry foul, and that’s not even addressing a theological bigger-picture about accepting religion based on blind faith, and ignoring factual evidence or opposing opinions through bias. Yes, a movie about hot dogs being shoved in buns for sexual pleasure somehow delivers a poignant, reasonable assessment of belief, and its unchecked dangers – as a talking douche sucks a juice box dry through his dick hole. What. The. Fuck.
Sausage Party is an Adults-Only animated riot that calls to South Park‘s balance of crass humor and socially relatable topics, with an ending no sane puritan will be able to shake. You aren’t ready for the food-on-food hotness that Rogen and Goldberg cook up. It’s an existential, vulgar comedy about food wanting to screw ferociously that racially takes no prisoners, topically skewers religion, and adapts the idea of food porn to passionate, unseeable new levels. Rogen and Goldberg set out to not only ruin your innocence, but make you look at food in a humanizing, terrifying new light – and they surely succeed.
**UPDATE AFTER SEEING FINAL CUT**
Having already seen Sausage Party – with complete knowledge of every joke and surprise – my second, FULLY ANIMATED watch might have been funnier than the first. All my assessments above still stand, and not only that, but biting into a fully-cooked product removed any unfinished distractions from my enjoyment of the no-holds-barred, comedic food fetish bounty laid before me.
Don’t let any stigmas about animated movies cloud your judgement – this is a mature, R-rated stoner comedy that shares every similarity with Rogen and Goldberg’s previous canon, unfit for children and stuffed full of one-off tidbits you’ll laugh at for days (cameo of the year from the meat aisle?). You will laugh, wince and howl for all the right reasons, as Sausage Party transcends mindless juvenility, somehow becoming a far-more provocatively spiced film than initial jokes about wieners and buns might let on.
But, yeah – there are still plenty of jokes about wieners sliding into buns. This is a film that commits to punchlines, in the most admirable, shocking, and repulsively gut-busting of ways. You’re getting what’s advertised on the menu, for the better, and never the worse.
Sausage Party takes the phrase "food porn" to hilariously inappropriate new levels, proving to be far-more provocative than a few bun and wiener jokes.