“Sausage Party”: A Nihilist’s Buffet
By Shayne Paladin
Much to my surprise, there was much more to Sausage Party than the buzz surrounding an idiotically-placed trailer.
Speaking of which, my main anxiety going into this movie was that most of the jokes had already been exposed during the controversial trailer.
Boy, was I wrong.
On one hand, Sausage Party executes exactly how you’d hope and expect. The jokes are tastefully raunchy and well-timed–somewhat of a requirement now for Rogen/Goldberg movies, and the dialogue gives the characters the ambiance of longtime friends.
The casting of this film, while predictable, was downright masterful. Along for the ride are staples like Michael Cera, Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill, and a surprising appearance by Edward Norton. The stellar voice performances by the all-star cast will have you more concerned about the welfare of food than you ever thought possible.
This is actually one of the film’s biggest wins. It takes a concept typically reserved for pre-adolescent mavericks, matches it with like-minded humor, and layers it all on top of some rather mature themes to create one of the most effectively creative experiences that I’ve seen in a long time.
However, the other side of Sausage Party‘s coin has to do with some of the heavy themes I alluded to earlier.
What the film pushes to the surface over the course of its 90 minute run time is an existential exploration of blind faith. I don’t want to give too much away, but the main desire by all the food characters in the market is to someday be selected by The Gods (humans) and enter the “Great Beyond” by leaving the store.
Once the main character, Frank, becomes aware of the true faith of food (obviously to get eaten), he begins to question the ethics set in place at the market in accordance to the word of The Gods.
The movie progressively explores the nihilistic possibility that life is actually meaningless, and that food items should live however they choose to because they’ll all eventually get eaten anyway.
While the religion of “The Gods” is the main attraction of this questioning, the film does a good job of drawing several parallels with real world religions. Frank serves as an example of empirically-driven counterarguments to religion, and his interactions with other food characters highlight how many choose to blindly follow faith rather than face the grim reality of life.
The fact that Sausage Party develops these themes while continuing the comedy from the first act makes for a movie that continuously gets better as the plot progresses.
Which is especially notable in the eyes of a cynical jerk like myself. I kept waiting for the movie to drop the ball, but it only kept improving.
I will say that some of the racial stereotypes that aligned with certain food was a bit tasteless at times, but it set up a great dynamic between a Jewish bagel and a Middle Eastern lavash, so I was able to tolerate it.
The third act of the film was so unapologetically explicit that it had the theater crowd I was sitting with in a full frenzy. But the climax of the film was there for a purpose, and I hope that after reading this quick review, you’ll be able to catch its true message.
If you’re in the mood for a funny-as-hell film with nihilistic undertones, then you need to watch this movie. And if you’re not in the mood for this: too bad, you still should watch it.
Thanks for reading!