Dir: Conrad Vernon & Greg Tiernan
Starring (the voices of): Seth Rogen, Kirsten Wiig, Jonah Hill, Bill Hader, Michael Cera, James Franco, David McBride, Paul Rudd, Craig Robinson, Nick Kroll, David Krumholtz, Edward Norton, Salma Hayek
Run Time: 88 Mins
The screenwriters of Sausage Party pose an interesting question: If we’re too lazy to actually finish writing a sentence, will audiences still understand a characters’ meaning if we trail sentences off into a string of swear words?
Or, to re-write that opening in the style of a member of Sausage Party’s myriad writing team, who seem to be hormone ravaged teenagers who have just discovered that the closest adult has left ear shot: The screenwriters of Sausage Party pose an interesting question: If we’re too lazy to actually finish writing a sentence, will audiences f£&$%@g f*&k f@£k f$%k you f@~$£^g f$&k?
And the answer would be yes, because interpreting ‘comedy’ swearing is the only way to make headway with Sausage Party; a film searingly unfunny even by Seth Rogen’s already outrageously low standards.
In the fictional Shopwell superstore; the foods dream of being taken to the “great beyond.” After an encounter with a jar of Honey Mustard who has seen what fate really awaits food after they get chosen by shoppers, a sausage called Frank sets out to find the truth of his existence and find out what fate really awaits him.
The endless swearing isn’t funny or creative and quickly becomes tiresome; it’s almost in place of dialogue rather than being a part of it; and the only other type of humour Sausage Party brings to the table is crude shock-humour, almost none of which is as funny as it thinks it is. Most of the characters exist only to fulfil racial or sexist stereotypes and the incredibly sex-centric comedy has the feel of a group of High School Drama students allowed to swear in a project for the first time and running with it as far as they can because they think it makes them “adult” and highlights them as being anything but; any of these things can be funny in context and timing and delivery, but these are points the Sausage Party creative team have either ignored or never even discovered.
And yet, and yet…..I can’t totally dislike it. I think the film-makers set out with good intentions: the whole story is a obvious metaphor for religion and both the blind faith of religion and the atheist desire for tangible evidence are treated fairly and equally even if the debate is shallow; and there is a nice message in two characters who at first appear to be one-joke stereotypes of the Israel/Palestine conflict who find friendship (before Sausage Party take the ‘joke’ too far). Even the crude and horrible stereotype of the Nazified German foods has a point to make about how some elements of all societies and groups take a particular message and manipulate the meaning to suit their own means.
Also, to be fair, some of the comedy swearing is funny – but if you throw a wad of spaghetti against the wall some of it will stick – and in three or four places the crude humour elicits laughs; but usually more of a shocked guffaw rather than a genuine belly laugh.
The Verdict: An interesting idea with good intentions, let down by laziness – and there simply is no excuse for making a comedy this consistently unfunny. Jonah, you’re better than this.