Sunday, August 21, 2016

Sausage Party

Having just seen Sausage Party I'm beginning to wonder if Sony is at all capable of producing, distributing or even being in the vicinity of a movie without it becoming overloaded with references. Indeed, I'm left wondering if Sony is even capable of being involved with a movie without having an out of nowhere musical number in it. I'm almost glad Sony isn't making Spider-Man films anymore, because at this point I wouldn't be at all surprised if The Sinister Six ended with a sing-off between Peter and a glorified boy-band.
I honestly don't know what I was expecting, this is 2016 after all, we're not exactly looking at an Oscar-bait year. There are scant few contenders for Best Picture this year, and Sausage Party is no The Lego Movie. Despite pretensions to something greater, Sausage Party isn't subversive, it isn't satirical, and it isn't nearly as horrifying as The Lego Movie! That's right, an R-rated movie pales in comparison to a PG one in terms of horror and subversive qualities. It's everything that The Lego Movie wasn't. A heartless corporate cash-in without a god-damn soul to speak of.
Let's start from the beginning. Anyone here remember Food Fight? That's basically what this movie is, sans the whole "Brand-X" plot, instead replaced with a wholesale rip-off of Toy Story and The Lego Movie. We've got the mysterious council of know-it-all's from The Lego Movie, the adventure kicked off by a characters stupidity from Toy Story (Except more on the stupid and nothing on the jealousy), and a bunch of typical cinematic bullshit from every movie made in the last thirty years. Remember how I said that Ghostbusters was basically the same as The Angry Birds Movie? Well I seem to have spoken too soon, since this film is literally the same, at least in terms of plot.
Character who finds out about a horrible plot to exploit the good-will of everyone in his society? Check. Suspicions not heeded by the others until it's almost too late? Check. Quest to find an old wise character who might be able to help them? Check. Wise character refuses to help out at first and then capitulates in the end? Check. Characters all come together at the end for a medieval siege and have a party afterwards? Check.
Somehow though, despite having less memes in it, Sausage Party manages to stuff in as many if not more out-of-place references than Ghostbusters and The Angry Birds Movie combined. No, those italics aren't there by accident, I'm almost certain that between background references, character names, licensed music, stupid punny dialogue and scenes ripped-off wholesale from better movies turn the reference-scale up to eleven and bust Vegeta's scouter. We've got "Hungry Eyes" from Dirty Dancing. "I'd Do Anything For Love (But I Won't Do That)" by Meat Loaf sung by an actual meat-loaf. "Wake Me Up before You Go-Go" by Wham! A bell-pepper named Sergeant Pepper. Kareem Abdul Lavash, Sammy Bagel Jr., Teresa del Taco, tons of other stupid things that are a bit too numerous to keep track of mentally, but there's one thing. One specific thing that really sticks out. After drugging and murdering a bunch of humans, the food has an orgy-party at the end of the film, a character that's a walking (or rather rolling) reference to Stephen Hawking named Gum, reveals that while high, he and Fire-Water figured out that they are nothing more than a figment of Seth Rogen's twisted imagination. Gum builds a stargate (His words not mine) to the real-world that the characters use in an attempt to get revenge on Rogen and the others who worked on the film.
No joke, the ending pulls a Leisure Suit Larry 3, and the characters come into the real-world to kill their creators.
I suppose now I should get into a bit more of the specifics of the plot.
Long ago, food was terrified of being picked to be purchased. So, Fire-Water and Twink, two of the immortal non-perishables wrote a song to placate their terror. Later, an agnostic hot-dog named Frank (Seth Rogen) questions if there really is anything beyond the doors of the market. He runs into a jar of returned honey-mustard who says that beyond the doors is terror. Frank tries to keep the jar from committing suicide, but a big old crash happens and a bunch of products are tossed around the store. Some are destroyed, others are merely lost. Frank goes on his quest to find out what the hell's going on and makes it to the grilling section where he sees a paradoxical cookbook. One that is clearly meant to be illustrations as opposed to actual pictures, but it shows the food screaming out in agony as it's eaten.
This brings me to a plot-hole. Condoms, gum, disposable douches, bags of chips, paper towel rolls, those are all sentient. How are the knives, the grill, the shelves, etc not sentient too? We see various sentient things with metal and plastic as parts of their bodies, but no sentient utensils.
Also, some bags of chips are inanimate full of sentient chips, some are sentient full of inanimate chips.
That's before you get into the logistics of sentient jars, bottles and food in the first place. While Seth Rogen says that sentient food is a naturally horrific thought, the movie can't sell that concept because humans have to literally be high to find this out. There's a reason Sid worked as an antagonist in Toy Story. He was sadistic, he liked blowing things up, he liked tearing toys apart and sticking the parts together at random. The reason this works, the reason that this can get to the audience is because we all played with toys. We could see characters in them, we could see them as people and we all knew how much it hurt when a toy broke. That in turn fed into the idea of Toy Story as a movie, because we could all imagine our toys going on adventures. I don't know about you, but I could never see food as anything but. It's interchangeable, and above all consumable. Sure I remember flavors, textures, and scents, but that's it. I suppose that's my problem with the film, I can't buy into the core conceit because I'm clearly not operating on the same wavelength as the film-makers were. Did Seth Rogen get high and watch a bunch of Aqua Teen Hunger Force and Toy Story before writing this? Did the director? Did everyone?
Anyways, the food kills a bunch of people and a food orgy happens. Literally not kidding, they dose a bunch of people with bath salts (The drug not the stuff you put in the bath) so that they can see the food and literally blow a bunch of people up, bludgeon others, and so forth. I have a feeling this particular market is going to be visited by either The Men In Black or The Doctor soon, because this is some bullshit.
I could go into how the logistics of a food-orgy are total bullshit, how the female lead Brenda randomly breaks into song, or wonder how a taco shell can be attracted to a hot-dog bun when to the best of my knowledge there's very little crossover between those two foods in terms of cuisine. It would have made more sense if there was an unorthodox but still somewhat reasonable pairing, but that's further into it than I should go.
No, I'm going to mention a few things here before I wrap up the review that don't require investing much more time into this film so I can get back to playing SMTIV and Senran Kagura 2.
First off, Frank is referred to as a sausage despite very obviously being a hot-dog. Hot-dogs are sausages granted, but nobody calls them that.
Second is the fact that any and all pretense is thrown out of this film in the first three minutes of the film. Not even kidding. The opening musical number tosses every bit of subtlety and subtext off Mount Everest and then proceeds to explain every single innuendo that the film has. Not that the film would have had much subtlety anyways, the innuendos are some of the most inept I've seen in my freaking life. Not to mention that a bunch of them that weren't explained in the opening musical number are laid straight the hell out for the viewers in the second one.
Third, this film is absolutely filled with stereotypes. Some are the funny kind, like you'd find in Axis Powers Hetalia, others are just cringe-worthy. They trot out the same old tired agnostic, atheist and religious stereotypes that you can possibly find, put them together and then don't bother coming to any kind of actual conclusion despite one character actually being in the right. Opting instead for the most limp-wristed, non-committal resolution one could possibly imagine.
All in all, this was a bad fucking movie. I sincerely wish I hadn't watched a second of it, because despite the rather funny moments, there's nothing in this film that can grab me and make me all that interested. If it wasn't for the fact that they were shooting for an R-rating this film would be your run-of-the-mill kids trash pumped out by studios that aren't Pixar or Disney. To go back to something I said at the beginning of the review, I'm not sure what I expected out of this film exactly, but generally speaking? I wanted a bit more impact. Something more revolutionary and monumental. This is the first R-rated CGI film ever made, and as far as I can tell that's the only thing this film manages to do that's unique. I wish I could say this is a less embarrassing movie than Ghostbusters, but it's up there. Especially with some of the things Kristin Wiig's character has to say.
One more thing. Edward Norton? Be in better movies. You were Bruce Banner, you were the protagonist of Fight Club, you were nominated for three academy awards god-dammit! Go over to DC, try out for The Riddler, Deathstroke, Two-Face, anyone! Just do something other than any more of these movies!
In the end, I give Sausage Party a 1.2* I'll see you next week.

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