Remember The LEGO Movie?
Of course you do. That’s not really what I’m asking. Remember the reaction when The LEGO Movie came out? What was remarkable about the film was not that it was good (which it was, extremely so) but that it was The fucking LEGO Movie and it was good. Sure, there were signs beforehand that it might be okay, but it really took a lot of people off guard just how subversive it was. It wasn’t just LEGO: The Movie, it was a commentary on the very idea of a LEGO movie.
I think of Sausage Party as this year’s LEGO Movie. Of course, I’ve always been a defender of Seth Rogen as an artist, but this seems like a film that everyone can agree is pretty good. And like LEGO, it does subvert itself in a sense. In addition to skewering the Pixar formula, it examines the very idea of an R-rated Pixar movie, and what that might look like. In addition, it’s actually a really clever (if often comically blunt) work of satire, examining the idea of organized religion and a lot of fundamental aspects of global society.
But it’s not just one of Rogen’s increasingly gonzo third-tier-ironic film concepts. A ton of passion and effort went into this movie. Stories are told of how every line was examined and beta tested and rewritten to make sure it was an optimal balance of funny and inappropriate. The animation is phenomenal. On a budget of a skimpy $20 million, this film strikes an amazing mix of breathtaking realism and hilarious caricaturism.
And yeah, as many have been quick to point out, it has a lot of jokes that would offend certain constitutions. Literally every character represents one stereotype or another. But I think this was an interesting and very deliberate move, to reflect real-world groups of people and how they view one another. The prejudices add to the film’s commentary on how our society is kind of fucked up from the start, and how animated films, especially from Disney and Dreamworks, tend to exploit traditional stereotypes to reflect groups in broad strokes. Really, aside from an ill-advised Nazi joke at the beginning, every line serves a purpose.
The cast is also great. Special props to Edward Norton, who is truly unrecognizable as a Woody Allen type bagel named Sammy Bagel Jr., and Salma Hayek, who plays a very endearing lesbian taco. Nick Kroll is also great as the film’s surprisingly scary villain, a literal and figurative douche.
Overall, I give Sausage Party an A. There are a few lines that don’t work, and it’s definitely not for everyone, but you’ve got to admire the sheer passion that went into it.