Leave it to Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg to take animated films to a realm they’ve never gone before – the hard R-rating. “Sausage Party” is the rude, crude, foul-mouthed “Secret Life of Snacks” that could only have come from the brains of Rogen and Goldberg, who dreamed up the idea 10 years ago. It’s taken that long to get two studios in Annapurna Pictures and Sony Pictures to bring this ballsy notion to fruition, and the result is unlike anything you’ve ever seen – and probably won’t ever be pulled off in the same way again.
“Sausage Party” is written by Rogen, Goldberg, Jonah Hill, Kyle Hunter and Ariel Shaffir, and directed by Conrad Vernon and Greg Tiernan (who is known for, get this, “Thomas & Friends”). The main characters are a sausage (really a hot dog) Frank (Rogen) and his girlfriend, a busty bun named Brenda (Kristen Wiig). They live inside the Shopwell’s supermarket, where they hope to be chosen by the Gods (grocery shoppers) to go to the Great Beyond.
Little do they know what happens outside the supermarket doors, since every morning the food stuffs sing a happy song about how wonderful it is to be chosen. But Frank of little faith has some questions about the myth, and when a returned jar of Honey Mustard (Danny McBride) raves about the apocalyptic murder and destruction of kitchens, Frank sets into motion a plan to save himself and Brenda from this fate. The dog and bun, you see, are really excited to see how their bodies might fit together.
Since we’re starting with a central relationship that is a sex metaphor made literal, the rest of “Sausage Party” can’t hold back. From minute one it’s guns blazing with raunchy sex talk, swearing and every offensive ethnic stereotype in the grocery store – from a tiny sauerkraut Hitler, to a drunken Mexican bottle of tequila. There’s even some geo-political Middle Eastern squabbling between a bagel (Edward Norton – who knew he did such a good Woody Allen impression?) and a lavash wrap (David Krumholtz).
“Sausage Party” gleefully courts topics that are decidedly taboo in a politically correct world, getting away with it because it’s coming out of the mouth of a talking weiner or taco shell or jar of mustard. There are some great dirty food puns, but the jokes stay in one raunchy lane. There’s also a compulsive fixation on female anatomy, from derogatory name-calling to a vodka-swilling, fist-pumping villain that’s literally a douche (Nick Kroll). You’d think there’d be more references to male anatomy what with all the sausages, but they are few and far between.
The flimsy conceptual casing of “Sausage Party” can’t contain all of the film’s rowdy audacity, and it wildly loses control during an action-adventure climax. It’s so outlandish that the only way they can end the movie is in an even more over-the-top scene, a pornographic finish that calls to mind the most memorable moments from “Team America: World Police.”
The meat of “Sausage Party” doesn’t quite stretch over the feature running time – it could or should have been 30 minutes. But this smack in the face of good manners is surprising and strange, often delightfully so.
Rated: R for strong crude sexual content, pervasive language, and drug use. Voices: Seth Rogen, Kristen Wiig, Michael Cera. Directors: Conrad Vernon and Greg Tiernan. Running time: 89 minutes. Theaters: Edwards 21, Edwards 9, Edwards 14, Edwards 12, Majestic 18, Village Cinema.