Depraved, Bacchanalian & Ruthless: Food Emulates Humanity in Sausage Party

From the very first few minutes of watching Sausage Party, you can’t help but look around you to see if everyone else in the audience feels as though they’re on an episode of Punk’d, too. The unprecedented profaneness of not just an animated movie, but maybe any movie of the past decade, takes a bit of getting used to. And just when you do, the incomprehensible irreverence of the combined writing style of Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg, Kyle Hunter and Ariel Shaffir will surprise you yet again.

Unapologetic with its stereotyping of every ethnic-based food under the Saran wrap, Rogen is unafraid to offend with his portrayals of everything from an Italian tomato screaming, “Please-a no, I got-a famiglia!” to a Middle Eastern lavash named Kareem Abdul Lavash (David Krumholtz) who keeps going on about how in the great beyond (what the food deems the realm outside the sliding doors of Shopwell’s, the grocery store they all reside in), he will finally get the “seventy-seven bottles of extra virgin olive oil” he was promised to douse his “flaps” with.

But more than a commentary on the absurdity of ethnic divisions and mutual contempt spurred on by centuries-long rivalries, Sausage Party also delves into the herd mentality of government and religion through its hero’s struggle with being able to tell the truth about what really happens to food once it leaves the grocery. Frank (Rogen), who starts out as peaceable and complacent as all the other food items in Shopwell’s, begins to doubt the story they’ve all been told about what the future holds for them with “the gods” a.k.a. humans in the great beyond when Honey Mustard (Danny McBride) is returned to the shelf by a customer and starts bristling and quivering in the cliche manner of a rape victim when the others ask him what it was like out there. He is cautioned by the Native American-inspired Firewater (Bill Hader), a member of the elite, sage group of non-perishables, to remain silent about what he knows.

But when Honey Mustard gets picked up once more, along with a package of sausages housing Frank, Carl (Jonah Hill) and the nubby Barry (Michael Cera) and buns containing Frank’s girlfriend, Brenda Bunson (Kristen Wiig), he can’t go through the pain again. As he heads to the front of the cart to declare his knowledge of what monsters the gods really are, a douche named, appropriately, Douche (Nick Kroll), fiends to get all up in the “milf” who has picked him up off the shelf. “You know how long I’ve been waiting? No one uses a douche anymore,” he exclaims. But his chance of serving his purpose is foiled when Frank tries to rescue Honey Mustard from coming to a shattering suicidal end by jumping off the end of the cart. Not wanting to lose her true love as she sees him slipping off the edge as well, Brenda frees herself from the plastic confining her to grab hold of his hand. Honey Mustard, of course, cannot be saved.

In the aftermath of the cart crash, Sausage Party takes on a Saving Private Ryan-like bent with slow motion reactions, dramatic music and horrified expressions at the sight of many a wounded “soldier.” The breaking of Douche’s nozzle as a result of this cataclysmic event leads him to accuse and blame Frank for trying to save Honey Mustard in the first place. Vowing vengeance in the face of tragedy (Peanut Butter holds his now cracked soul mate Jelly in bewailment), Douche retreats to the store room area of Shopwell’s where he pumps himself full of juice from Juice Box (Vincent Tong) in one of many instances of graphic food porn. Invigorated with evil strength, Douche serves as the chief antagonist for the rest of the film.

In fact, it is a lesbianic taco named Teresa Del Taco (Salma Hayek, who apparently feels comfortable sharing the same screen with ex Edward Norton as long as they’re not technically on it together) who must rescue Brenda from Douche’s clutches as she, Abdul Kareem Lavash and a Woody Allen-tinged Jewish bagel named Sammy Bagel Jr. (Edward Norton) wait for Frank’s return from the liquor aisle. It is there that Frank learns the truth about the great beyond from the non-perishables, Firewater, Mr. Grits (Craig Robinson) and Twink (Scott Underwood), who have all been working to keep the lore going after deciding that the food items were too terrified every time they left the store with their humans.

With each new scene in Sausage Party, the actions of the characters become more extreme and absurdist, accenting an even greater point: their debauched behavior is a mirror of the humans who drive them to fight for their lives in the most ruthless of ways (bath salt injections among them). An orgiastic conclusion  that ultimately leads to a hyper-meta allusion to Rogen and Norton cinches the iconoclasm of this particular animated movie, originally inspired as a response to how Disney often takes objectively dark concepts and sanitizes them, remarking, “People like to project their emotions onto the things around them: their toys, their cars, their pets… So we thought: what would it be like if our food had feelings? We very quickly realized that it would be fucked up.”

And, indeed, this movie is fucked up enough to make you re-think ever eating again. In short, it’s an unwitting diet plan for all who see it.

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