WE HAVE A WIENER
Main Voice Cast: Seth Rogen, Kristen Wiig
Directors: Greg Tiernan, Conrad Vernon
It’s been rather quiet around Casa Maine since the postponement of Love Potion Number Ten. I’ve used the down time to spend some more time with Leah, head of my consumer products division, making sure that the business remains at the forefront of the choices for American consumers. My newest addition, Les Couleurs de Vicki Lester, seems to be doing well. I offer a vibrant palette of technicolors for the drab interiors of America, counteracting the beige and taupe that seems to have washed over the land. Our Gone with the Wind palette featuring Scarlet O’Hara, Bonnie Butler Blue, and Slave Black has been especially popular, especially in the Deep South. We have, unfortunately, had to retire Petal Pink, at least until the criminal investigation is over. It’s being replaced by two new shades, Blush and Bashful, part of the Steel Magnolia’s palette along with armadillo cake grey.
I called Joseph, my manager, and asked him to do something about my sudden availability. A star of my magnitude needs to be constantly in the public eye. It was too late for me to get the gig hosting the Tony Awards this year but I’m sure there’s another show coming up soon that could use my triple thread performing talents that are sure to garner boffo ratings. He promised to start shaking the trees and see what he could find. I, in turn, made my way through the slush pile of unsolicited manuscripts and offers that had come in over the last few months. The new musical adaptation of A Confederacy of Dunces has possibilities, but I simply refuse to play a role like Ignatius in which I cannot show off my shapely legs. The script for a musical adaptation of Friday the 13th also has some possibilities but I’m not sure I should be playing a middle-aged mother or the public might start doubting my ever-youthful age of 39.
Having finished up a productive morning, it was time for a little unwinding time so I found a tray of left over canapes in the refrigerator and a nice bottle of Absolut Peppar so I was all set for a sit down in the home theater with a film. After spinning through the Netflix offerings, I landed upon last summer’s surprise animated hit Sausage Party. Always eager to keep up with the youth of today, I decided to give it a whirl. I’m not especially a fan of the Judd Apatow school of comedy as it always strikes me as being written by and aimed at the junior high set but sometimes it has occasional moments of amusement.
Sausage Party is a spoof on the more earnest Pixar comedies and concerns the groceries in a large supermarket known as Shopwell’s. Each morning, the anthropometric foodstuffs greet the dawn with a complicated Alan Menken production number entitled The Great Beyond in which they speculate as to what wonders await those of them who are chosen by the patrons and carried off to some sort of food nirvana. They, of course, have no idea that their ultimate fate is to be prepared and eaten by those they revere as gods. When a bottle of honey mustard (voiced by Danny McBride), purchased in error, is returned and brings tales of the horrors of the outside, he is believed by a sausage named Frank (voiced by Seth Rogen) who along with his girlfriend, a hot dog bun named Brenda (voiced by Kristen Wiig), attempts to spread the word and rescue them all from their fate. This leads to a convoluted plot in which every clichéd food pun and bad joke gets an outing. Then there’s the whole layer of smut with phallic wieners pining for vaginal buns, a lesbian taco (Salma Hayek), and a Hekyll and Jekyll team of middle eastern flat bread (David Krumholz) and a bagel (Edward Norton) who fight out the Middle East conflict in the ethnic foods aisle. Then there’s a feminine douche (Nick Kroll) who is no summer’s eve. Just when you think they’ve run out of ideas, there’s a literal celebratory orgy that would have gotten a hard X rating if it involved humans rather than bananas and pastry products.
I wanted to dislike Sausage Party as scatological comedy is really not my thing, but I kept getting drawn back in despite the gross jokes and the middle school locker room humor. I wasn’t sure why at first, but then it occurred to me that the underlying messages are rather positive and sweet. The various groceries must work together and form community. They get over their various differences. They take same gender attraction as a matter of course. The filmmakers also keep their tongues firmly in their cheeks with meta references to the universe of cartoons versus our real world. Teens and young adults will eat it up.
The animation is a bit cruder that one might find in a Pixar or Disney film but perfectly adequate and the characterization of ordinary consumer products is at times clever. Sausage Party lacks the level of detail filling the frame that one finds in top drawer cartoons but it never becomes boring. Seth Rogen wrote the original story along with Jonah Hill and Evan Goldberg and there is a whole passel of credited screenwriters which usually suggests screenplay by committee but by some miracle it comes across with a unified vision, likely due to a strong hand from directors Greg Tiernan and Conrad Vernon.
The film was a labor of love for Seth Rogan who apparently had the original idea and sketched out some of the characters nearly a decade ago. The scatologic and overtly sexual content turned off most studios and it was difficult for him to get the green light for a number of years. Ultimately, the gamble paid off with the film making an enormous amount of money at the box office. Given Hollywood’s propensity to try and recreate money making formulae, I expect we will have a few more adult cartoons which may or may not involve appliance stores, restaurants or the occasional pawn shop in a year or two.
Ultimately, Sausage Party is a bit like a dirty joke told at the dinner table by an elementary school child. You’re never certain if you want to laugh uproariously or take him or her to task.
Package escaping. Tip touching. Dying juice box. Bath salt injecting. Baby carrot murder. Gratuitous decapitation. People in freezers. Exploding sales clerk.