8 September 2016

Sausage Party review

Imagine if Pixar, the people behind films such as Toy Story, The Incredibles, Up and Wall-E, decided to make an adult comedy. Imagine if they gathered together a who's who of funny people, including most of the cast of Superbad alongside actors like Kristen Wiig, Paul Rudd and even Edward Norton. Imagine if they made a movie specifically dealing with the concept of religion, and that the world would be a better place without it.

Now imagine that Pixar were also really, really bad at making movies. Imagine that they lost their ability to effectively tell a story, to create interesting characters, to make movies that resonant with their audience. Imagine if everyone working for Pixar suffered a severe head trauma immediately before putting pen to paper, instantly putting their mental age back by decades.

The result is Sausage Party, a film that means well.

We follow a sausage named Frank who, along with the rest of the sentient food that lines the shelves of Shopwell's, waits to be chosen by the Gods who walk the aisles between them. All the food in the supermarket believes that as long as they abide by a set of rules, they will one day be chosen by the Gods and taken to the Great Beyond, their version of Heaven. However, when a jar of Honey Mustard is returned to the store, he brings with him the terrifying truth that once out of those doors, the food of Shopwell's will be peeled, sliced, chopped, grated, boiled, melted and devoured by the false Gods that they've been worshipping.

Subtle it ain't. Sausage Party presents organised religion as nothing more than a tool used to control the masses, which would have been a bold message for a film to contain if it had been released about 40 years ago. In 2016, however, Sausage Party's message feels far too reductive, and about as daring as that kid you knew in high school who quoted Richard Dawkins at people in an attempt to prove his superior intellect. Between this overly simplistic anti-religion message and the films lowbrow sense of humour, it's obvious that Sausage Party is trying really hard to cause offense - the only problem being that what would have once had audiences clutching at their pearls simply feels stale now.

Ethnic stereotypes, overt sex references, a penchant for profanity - Sausage Party trades almost solely in the risque, but the desperate attempts it makes to shock its audience are the equivalent of your lame uncle trying to prove he's still cool by telling what he believes to be near-the-knuckle jokes. It's almost aggressively stupid throughout, and screams of frequent collaborators Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg trying to reassure themselves that they're still relevant, still able to push at the boundaries of comedy - something that has never been less true than it is here. Sausage Party is simply incapable of getting the reaction it is looking for, a natural by-product of having seen it all before, and the result is a movie that is simply sort of embarrassing to sit through.

And worst of all, Sausage Party spends so much time trying to get a rise out of its audience that - barring a few decent puns - it forgets to include any actual jokes, ensuring that those who have long since grown tired of the shock humour on display here will find very little to enjoy. I believe Seth Rogen when he says that Sausage Party has been in the works for the best part of a decade, because I've never seen a film that feels as instantly dated as this does, as if it were from another era of comedy entirely.

Ultimately, Sausage Party isn't as smart, as funny or as original as it thinks it is, a real shame given a promising premise and the fact that deep down, it's heart is in the right place. But that doesn't make up for a movie that is simply very boring when all is said and done, far too monotonous and dull to be remembered as anything more than a disappointment. If you'll forgive the pun, it's clear that Sausage Party has long since passed its expiry date.

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