Sausage Party

Year: 2016
Production Co: Annapurna Pictures
Studio: Sony
Director: Greg Tiernan/Conrad Vernon
Writer: Kyle Hunter/Ariel Shaffir/Seth Rogen/Evan Goldberg
Cast: Seth Rogen, Kristen Wiig, Michael Cera, Jonah Hill, Danny McBride, Salma Hayek, Edward Norton, Lauren Miller, James Franco, Bill Hader, Nick Kroll, David Krumholtz, Paul Rudd

Next time you find yourself in a 'with all the sequels and superheroes, movies are getting worse' argument, casually ask the gathering if they ever thought we'd get a visually high quality animated cartoon about foodstuff that's full of swearing, sex, drugs and cartoonish violence.

Someone at some stage undoubtedly smoked too many joints and ate too much pizza and thought to themselves 'what if Pixar made a R rated sex and drugs comedy?' The team behind This Is The End, The Interview and TV's Preacher asked themselves just that, and someone gave them the money to realise it.

Better yet, it's done fantastic business and that's a good thing no matter what you think of the movie itself because it's the kind of message audiences need to be sending the Hollywood powers that be now more than ever – we want to see more than superheroes and sequels.

The set-up even sounds like something from a forthcoming Pixar movie, as anthropomorphic food that lives in a supermarket looks forward to the day when their gods (humans) select them and take them to the outside world where they believe paradise awaits. Yes, before we even get to the filthy jokes there's a not-so-subtle dig at blind religion.

Of course, no Pixar movie ever contained a vaginal douche hell-bent on revenge, a bottle of tequila, a packet of grits and a Twinkie getting high on weed, a lesbian taco who can't take her eyes or hands off the leading lady, a gratuitous camel-toe shot or a climactic orgy that contains (as one parental warning website put it) 'four items make an anal-vaginal-oral daisy chain, all thrusting wildly as a taco sucks violently on a hotdog'.

The eternally optimistic foodstuffs, including hot dog sausage Frank (Seth Rogen), his hot dog bun girlfriend Brenda (Kirsten Wiig) and their friends keep hearing rumours that their mythology – and the song they sing every morning to reinforce their belief in it – is a lie, one made terrifying flesh when honey mustard (Danny McBride) is returned to the store with stories of the violence, carnage and death that await them in the great beyond.

After a shopping cart accident that results in a hilarious Saving Private Ryan D-Day beach landing parody, Frank, Brenda, Kareem (an angry slice of lavash bread) and Sammy (a bagel) – whose relationship provides some of the best jokes, from their displays being either side of a dividing wall to the Holocaust where the Nazi sauerkraut tried to eliminate all the 'juice' – decide to travel to the uncharted outlands beyond the freezer section to learn the truth.

They discover strange new worlds and make new friends along the way like the Mexican Cantina where they meet Teresa the bisexual taco (Salma Hayek) and discover what all night parties in the liquor aisle are like, all the while with 'il douche' (Nick Kroll) stalking them to exact his revenge on Frank and Brenda.

Meanwhile, Frank's malformed packet-mate Barry (Michael Cera) somehow survives the great beyond, even discovering that their gods are vulnerable. In the film's most hilariously shocking (and shockingly hilarious) scene, he proves it to the inhabitants of the market by opening a ceiling vent and letting the severed head of a human stoner fall out onto the floor.

On the surface Sausage Party seems like a stupid, puerile comedy because of the language and the gags you only laugh at just because of how raucous or ribald they are.

But in fact, it's in hindsight that you realise how deceptively well written it is. Aside from fairly deep gags about silly religious beliefs, co-existing and other high minded themes there's a lot about sex and drugs, but it's all very cleverly woven into the script, making the laughs near-constant. Rogen, Goldberg and their pals might have thought it all up while sitting around smoking dope, but they've put a lot of work into the pacing of the humour.

On top of that, there's a level of visual quality in the colours, shapes, shadows and lighting on screen that really comes to life and builds in a representation of space and movement as good as anything you can see from the likes of Pixar or Illumination entertainment.

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