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Review: “Sausage Party” (R)

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Courtesy of Sony Pictures(LOS ANGELES) — It’s not hard to imagine how Seth Rogen and friends came up with the concept for Sausage Party. It seems like the ultimate stoner premise: what if all the products in the supermarket could talk? What would they say? What would they do? Who would do whom?

What’s hard to believe is that someone hasn’t come up with this concept in the first place. And animated it. And made it R-rated. A HARD R-rating.

Thankfully, no one spoiled the concept before Rogen and crew could make it their own, because if nothing else, you can tell that everyone involved in Sausage Party had a lot of fun making it. Maybe too much fun. But this definitely seems like a case of the right guys at the right time.

Sausage Party follows Frank, a hot dog (voiced by Seth Rogen), and a bun named Brenda (voiced by Kristen Wiig),  who, like the rest of the items for sale, are sold on the idea that once they leave the supermarket and head out into the “great beyond,” a kind of paradise awaits. But thanks to a returned jar of honey mustard (Danny McBride) Frank and Brenda soon realize the world that awaits them has an appetite for their destruction. This sends them on a mission of discovery, adventure, and more food/sex jokes than should be allowed by law.

To be clear, Sausage Party is very funny. The opening musical number sets the tone, with its cursing and Hitler references, making it clear you’re in for 90 minutes of animation like you’ve never seen before in theaters from a major studio, full of all the drug and sex humor you’ve come to expect from Seth Rogen, his writing partner Evan Goldberg, and Jonah Hill. The animation seems have pushed them to go deeper and dirtier, and the jokes get an extra layer of shock value laughter out of the fact that the lines are being spoken by animated food.

But it’s not all just shock and awe. These are the guys behind The Interview and This Is the End, movies that smartly interweave social and political commentary with fart jokes. Sausage Party goes there, too, with well-crafted riffs on Mexican stereotypes, religious iconography, and the historical tensions between Jews and Arabs.

And then you get a joke about a hot dog going into a bun. Perhaps too many of those jokes.

More of the smart stuff and less of the predictable stuff would have propelled Sausage Party from good to great. The premise wears thin after a while, with maybe too many jokes about things going into things. There are a couple of stretches where it feels like the same ground is being plowed again and again. And though I truly do love Nick Kroll in almost everything he’s ever done, his bad guy here is abrasive and unfunny. We get it: you’re a douche (he literally plays a bottle of douche).  Now stop yelling.

Douches aside, this is the kind of film you’ll want to see in a theater for maximum effect. Sitting in the dark with a bunch of strangers laughing at the climactic orgy scene is one of the strangest and funniest shared experiences you’ll ever have in a multiplex.

Sausage Party delivers on the party and the laughs. And while it falls just short of instant classic status, I have a feeling it might launch a trend of raunchy animated R-rated movies.

Three-and-a-half out of five stars.

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