Spill the Beans
by DICK CHENEY
dir. Greg Tiernan & Conrad Vernon
Sausage Party was made for a cool $19 million. The animation was done by Nitrogen Studios, whose disgusting reputation for awful treatment of their employees emerged during the press surround the film's release. It seems even more egregious that animators weren't paid or credited for their work on Sausage Patty considering the production company behind the film is Annapurna Pictures, which was founded by the daughter of Larry Ellison, the fifth wealthiest man in the entire world.
The real tragedy is the end product itself. Animated movies require substantial financial investment in order to look good, and Sausage Party is an aesthetic mess. Most of the work is focused on a group of sausages that include Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill and Michael Cera. The sausages themselves are a little too glossy, but it makes sense for them to not really resemble meat in any way, since no other living flesh in Sausage Party is given human personification.
Ethically, the most egregious animated film was Ratatouille, which turned a monstrous species of vermin into a cuisine loving pet. It had the advantage of looking substantially better than Sausage Party, where the character models so infrequently resemble food of any kind and yet don't go completely in the direction of being entirely unrecognizable. You spend a lot of time during the movie asking yourself, "What kind of food is that?" and not really caring whether you can figure it out.
Bill Hader plays a bottle of Firewater, and he was instructed by the directors to adopt a Native American accent for this important role of the liquor who warns Barry (co-writer Rogen) that the world beyond their supermarket is not exactly the happy place they had been led to believe. Most of the jokes revolve around the idea that Barry is a penis who needs to be in a vagina. If you find this idea hysterical, it is relatively certain that you thought Knocked Up was a powerful and important statement about pregnant women.
The racial humor in Sausage Party is actually pretty tame, and a lot less offensive than the general visual direction and the meandering nature of the script. The voice acting is also all over the map, with Kristen Wiig sounding like she recorded her audio in an afternoon and Michael Cera doing an almost unrecognizable boy's voice. Edward Norton portrays a Jewish bagel since there are no Jewish actors in the cast to take on this key role.
There is nothing actually funny about Sausage Party, since only amusing part of the concept was pretty much encapsulated by the trailer in which a bunch of sausages were upset about being cooked. With such a flimsy concept, it would have made considerable sense to make Sausage Party a musical, but unfortunately hiring songwriters would have cost too much money. There is an opening theme but it is rushed through as quickly as possible since there is no humor whatsoever in it.
Later, a package of Meatloaf sings "I Would Do Anything For Love (But I Won't Do That)" for about ninety seconds. Seemingly at a loss for another direction to take things, Rogen immediately has one of the characters get incredibly high in a scene that features prominently in every one of his projects. In this state, he is able to communicate with Barry (Michael Cera). Meanwhile, Kristen Wiig's bun gets involved in a lesbian subplot with a taco (Salma Hayek).
In order to escape from the supermarket, the food products shoot a bunch of toothpicks infected with bath salts at the store's shoppers, so that everyone becomes real to each other. They tie up a man with licorice, and murder a bunch of other people, but this is all just preface to the sausage penetrating the bun while all of the other food watches. It turns into something of an exciting orgy, but even the massive, um, hilarity involved in watching sex among inanimate objects aren't enough to salvage this disaster.
Dick Cheney is the senior contributor to This Recording.