In the colourful cartoon world created by Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill (and, it should be said, a whole bunch of other writers), the edible inhabitants of Shopwell’s supermarket have created a convenient myth for themselves – that when they are ‘chosen’ by shoppers, they embark on a journey to The Great Beyond, a paradise where they will be forever happy with their perfect partners. Frank (Seth Rogen) is one member of a pack of frankfurter sausages who longs to be lustily united with Brenda (Kristen Wiig) a shapely hot dog bun. (You’ll already have gathered that the minds behind this concoction are not reaching for anything too intellectual.) When a jar of honey-mustard is returned by a shopper (because he wasn’t quite honey and he wasn’t quite mustard), he terrorises the other inhabitants of the store with nightmarish tales of what he has witnessed – food being horribly tortured and mutilated before being devoured by humans – which sets Frank off on a convoluted quest to discover the truth about the Great Beyond.
Okay, so Sausage Party is an allegory about religion and the lies that people are prepared to swallow in order to make their existence tolerable – and, to be fair, there are a few clever scenes dotted throughout this film that hint at just how good it might have been if a little more thought had gone into it; but, unfortunately, such scenes are brutally nixed by the barrage of appalling racial, sexual and gender stereotypes to which the plot continually returns. It’s a case of one step forward, two steps back. No sooner have you enjoyed, for instance, the quite clever parody of Saving Private Ryan, than the script is offering some clumsy interplay between a Jewish bagel and a Middle Eastern lavash (that’s Armenian unleavened flatbread, in case you were wondering) that seems purely designed to offend religious sensibilities with its supposedly funny, lascivious er… climax.
Look, this was never going to be a masterpiece – it’s clearly something that’s been put together based on the ramblings of a couple of stoners (‘Hey man, imagine if this food we’re about to eat could talk!’) and, all things considered, it’s surprising that the end result is as watchable as it is. Those who enjoy their humour rude and obvious will doubtless laugh along with this – but its ambitions rarely take it any higher than a snake’s belly – and what can you honestly expect of a film that features a villain that is… quite literally, a douchebag?
And be warned. The central premise of this movie could easily encourage an eating disorder. This is a public service announcement. You have been warned.