I think my tweet after seeing Sausage Party summed up my experience perfectly. It was f–king crazy man. For those who don’t know, it was announced two weeks ago that Seth Rogen’s long-awaited R-rated animated comedy Sausage Party would be making its world premiere (as a work-in-progress cut) at SXSW. Because of this news, I immediately knew that this was going to be one of the hottest tickets at the fest that year. The idea of a CGI hard R-rated comedy seemed really fascinating to me, so I had to see it. I got up really early to get an xpress pass, and I was able to get a terrific seat for the world premiere of Sausage Party, one of the craziest mainstream comedies of the year.
The film involves a group of food products in a grocery store. They all dream of one day being picked by “the Gods” (humans) and be able to leave the supermarket and go into the Great Beyond. Frank, a hot dog played by Seth Rogen is about to get together with his hot dog bun girlfriend voiced by Kristen Wiig, but something horrible goes wrong when they’re about to go off together, and they get lost in the supermarket because of this. The truth is discovered about what the God’s are doing to the food products, Frank tries to get his food buddies to unite against the humans and revolt.
Rogen and his longtime collaborator Evan Goldberg wrote the script for the film, and the animation was directed by Greg Tiernan and Conrad Vernon. Vernon is best known for his work with the Shrek franchise, having directed Shrek 2 several years ago. Thanks to having actual animated directors behind the film, the animation looks really spectacular in the film. Unfortunately, this is the pure definition of a “work-in-progress”, because about 75% of the animation was actually finished. The opening musical number was still in the early stages, and the entire third act was still being worked on as it was being screened. It actually kind of helped that the film wasn’t entirely finished, and it was great that the audience was as loose and lively as it was, because we all thought that the choppy animation that wasn’t finished was funny as hell, and made some of the sequences a little bit funnier.
The crowd wasn’t expecting a finished film, and it did kind of show. That doesn’t mean Sausage Party was a bad film, quite the contrary. It wasn’t the best film from SXSW, but it was easily the most fun I’ve had watching a film at this festival, and watching a film in general in quite some time. I knew going into the film that it would be pretty raunchy, but it gets really, really raunchy and vulgar, especially toward the end which I won’t dare mention what happens. It’s outrageous and hilarious, and I nearly fell out of my seat in a few scenes from laughing too hard. Not every joke hit its mark, but that’s expected in a work-in-progress screening. I want to see the film again when it’s released in theaters, to see what made the cut and what got cut out, as well as seeing some of the final animated sequences fully realized. But its safe to say that Sausage Party is going to be a breakout hit late in the summer, and you’re going to have a lot of fun watching this one.
The voice talent in this film is unprecedented. Seth Rogen, Kristen Wiig, Paul Rudd, James Franco, Jonah Hill, Michael Cera, Edward Norton doing a flawless Woody Allen impression, and so many more great actors lend their voices to the film. I can’t tell you who all plays who in the film, mainly because there weren’t any credits after the film, and they haven’t released that information on IMDB yet. But all these actors are at the top of their comedic game in this one. The standout for me was Edward Norton as a Jewish bagel that has a killer Woody Allen impression. In fact, most of the audience actually thought it was Woody Allen in the film for the longest time. It’s pretty impressive, and quite honestly one of the best performances by Norton in recent memory.
As mentioned before, there were some sequences that just didn’t click like other scenes did. I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re not included in the final theatrical cut of the film. A few audience members were upset with the stereotypes of Asians, Jews, Muslims, Mexicans, and Native Americans in the film. Sure, it was sort of degrading, but its an animated film about food products having sex. This isn’t a think piece in any way, but I’m sure there’ll be pieces on Salon or Gawker talking about how insensitive the film is. But for the grown ups who have better things to worry about in their day, Sausage Party is a politically incorrect and vulgar comedic romp, and a film that could potentially break out the way Superbad and Pineapple Express did late in the summer (Sausage Party is slated for a mid-August release). I guarantee you that if you like the comedies that Seth Rogen usually does, then you’re going to have a lot of fun with Sausage Party. Again, I want to say certain scenes didn’t quite work, but I have no idea if they’re actually going to be in the final cut of the film. Oh well, just go see the damn thing this summer.