Look out, Trey and Matt. There are new comedic princes of the absurd in town and they are coming for you.
When it came to outrageous animated adult humor, Trey Parker and Matt Stone had the market cornered. The ultimate purveyors of 14-year old humor for the over-21s, Parker and Stone, who became famous for their long-running animated television show South Park and their Tony Award-winning musical The Book of Mormon, are maybe most beloved by a certain segment of society for their two perverse but brilliant full-length animated feature films, South Park: Bigger Longer and Uncut and Team America: World Police. Both films are raunchy and rude, hilarious and low-brow, and definitely not for the uninitiated or sensitive. But what made them especially incisive was their format. South Park: Bigger Longer and Uncut was a traditional animated film, featuring the characters from Parker & Stone’s popular television series, in anything but a traditional story, and Team America: World Police featured nothing but puppets—puppets who had foul language, bodily functions and sex with each other (among many other things). Yes, it seemed Parker and Stone had set the bar pretty high (or low) when it came to adult animated movies.
Until Seth Rogen came along.
Word is that co-producer, co-writer and star Seth Rogen and co-star and co-executive producer Jonah Hill had been trying to get Sausage Party made since 2007, when they, along with collaborator Evan Goldberg, first developed the idea for a cartoon about a hot dog having an existential crisis. Seemingly capitalizing on the recent successes of animated feature films, Annapurna Pictures took a chance and released Sausage Party onto an unsuspecting world and, quite honestly, we may never be the same again.
Sausage Party is everything it’s rumored to be and more. By “more,” I mean inventive, clever, original (while paying homage in all the right ways in all the right places), gut-bustingly hilarious (seriously—if you can take it, you’ll love it) and extremely well done. Is it really about a hot dog having an existential crisis? Well, actually, yes. And that’s another reason why Sausage Party is so much more than just a bawdy frat-boy snicker-fest. The writers, along with directors Greg Tiernan and Conrad Vernon, have actually crafted an intricate and textured story about the meaning of life, with a slew of socio-political satirical references thrown in for good measure. Nothing and nobody is beyond reproach here, as everyone gets to be the butt of a joke—butt usually being the operative word.
Which brings us to the heart of Sausage Party: the envelope-pushing, politically incorrect, rowdy and raunchy adult-humor fest. I can’t stress this enough: this is NOT a movie for children. (I think the woman sitting next to us who brought her 11-year old son realized this pretty quickly—like one minute in—and regretted it just as fast.) No matter how cute the cartoons may look—and how much of an homage to Pixar it tries to be—Sausage Party has more adult content than Magic Mike XXL. And, quite frankly, that’s the big reason I loved it so much.
Being a clear tribute to the heart and spirit of the multitude of Pixar films that have come before it, Sausage Party is a beautifully rendered CGI animated film, with adorable characters and genius voice performances from Seth Rogen, Kristen Wiig, Michael Cera, Bill Hader, Jonah Hill, Salma Hayek and Nick Kroll, among many talented others. The juxtaposition of this beautiful and sweet animation next to the unfiltered adult verbiage, ideas and behavior that comes from these characters is truly a sensation. And the script is truly inventive and clever, not just choosing to be filthy or hitting all the easy marks, but actually making you think to get the joke—and, once you do, it’s perfect.
If it seems like I’m not telling you too much about the movie itself, that’s purposeful. I went into the movie knowing very little about it (just that it was animated and it wasn’t for kids) and I can’t help but believe that played a role in my thorough enjoyment. All you NEED to know about Sausage Party is this: it’s not for the kids and it’s not for anyone who doesn’t like a good (and dirty) joke. As for everything else, appreciate every witty and oh-my-god-did-they-really-just-say/do-that? moment as they come.
And for those of you who might still be scarred by a certain scene in Team America: World Police, brace yourselves. Puppets don’t have a thing on hot dog buns.