After playing more than his fair share of stoners, Seth Rogen co-writes and lends his voice to a film that was probably thought up in a pot-toking, munchies-craving state. What if our food was sentient, aware of everything around it, and had feelings, thoughts, hopes and dreams? What if each edible item interacted with others, and their exchanges mimicked humanity's issues with sex, religion, race and class?
That's the world Sausage Party brings to the cinema, from its opening sing-a-long to its climatic display of a very different kind of food porn. As far as Rogen and co-writers Evan Goldberg, Kyle Hunter and Ariel Shaffir are concerned, talking grocery products just want to get laid. Otherwise, they're generally happy conforming to cultural stereotypes and being kept in their place via a placating ideology. Turns out food isn't so different from the people who eat it. In case it's not clear, this film is for adults only, with directors Conrad Vernon and Greg Tiernan — best known for helming Madagascar 3 and episodes of Thomas & Friends, respectively — operating in much ruder, cruder territory than they're used to.
A sausage by the name of Frank (Rogen) serves as the film's protagonist, whose primary goal in life is to consummate his relationship with his hot dog bun girlfriend Brenda (Kristen Wiig). As the Fourth of July approaches, they're both eager to leave the Shopwell's store they call home and move into the utopia of The Great Beyond. But things change after a jar of Honey Mustard (Danny McBride) returns from the supposed paradise outside, screaming that everything they thought they knew is a lie. Working his way around a shop also inhabited by a Jewish bagel (Edward Norton), an Arabic flatbread (David Krumholtz), an affectionate taco (Salma Hayek) and more, Frank sets out to discover the truth — all while an obnoxious, juiced-up douche (Nick Kroll) stalks the aisles.
In waxing philosophical about the nature of belief systems, Sausage Party's premise proves surprisingly smart and thoughtful, with its characters forced to face the fact that their ultimate fate involves being eaten by the humans they consider gods. Unfortunately, the anti-Pixar flick also feels decidedly over-stuffed, bogged down by everything from endless food puns and hit-and-miss gags propped up by Scorsese-level swearing, to an over-reliance on bodily functions, drug use and pop-culture references to generate a laugh.
Thankfully, a stacked cast of Rogen's male regulars, including Jonah Hill, Michael Cera, Paul Rudd and James Franco, helps keep Sausage Party bouncing merrily along. Everyone's clearly having fun spouting their inappropriate dialogue, even if their glee isn't always contagious. In that way, the film quickly becomes the movie equivalent of a tripped-out dinner party, one that boasts plenty of quality ingredients, but can't quite deliver a satisfying meal.