Sausage Party Is a Shockingly Sophisticated Commentary on Organized Religion

Aug 16, 2016

By Sam Adams

Some movies go out of their way to convince you to take them seriously. Sausage Party is desperate to make sure that you don’t. The movie’s opening minutes unleash a torrent of profanity and crude sexual jokes topped with a smattering of ethnic stereotypes, all placed in the mouths of anthropomorphic grocery items. If you think it’s hilarious to hear an animated hot dog with the voice of Seth Rogen slobber over the possibility of slipping into a shapely female bun, you’ve come to the right theater.

But if you can suppress the feeling that you’ve wandered into a clutch of sniggering teenage boys, something strange happens to Sausage Party: It starts to get smart—really smart. This isn’t an unexpected turn if you’re familiar with previous screenplays by Rogen and his frequent collaborator, Evan Goldberg, among them Superbad, This Is the End, and Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising; gross-out bro comedies that turn out to be heartfelt and thoughtful are kind of their jam. But when the main characters are bright-eyed cartoons who look like they just stepped out of an old-fashioned advertisement for theater snacks, the disjuncture is even more pronounced.

Sausage Party’s opening song-and-dance number (with music by Oscar-winning Disney stalwart Alan Menken) introduces us to this strange new world’s characters, as well as its governing philosophy. Beyond the supermarket’s doors, these mellifluous pieces of produce inform us, is the Great Beyond, a magical place where humans and foodstuffs live in perfect peace and harmony. When the gods—which is to say supermarket shoppers—take them off the shelves, the beaming products know they’re going to a better place. If they aren’t, how come no packaged loaf or deli meat has ever come back to say any different?

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