[Screen It]

(2016) (voices of Seth Rogen, Kristen Wiig) (R)

Read Our Full Content Movie Review for Parents

Animated Comedy: Sentient foods and other supermarket items learn the terrible truth about what happens to them when they are purchased from the shelves of their supermarket.
In a world where foods and supermarket products are sentient, each day at the supermarket begins with the various groceries hopeful that the "Gods" (the store's human customers) will "pick" (i.e. buy) them off the store's shelves and take them to the Great Beyond (whatever lies beyond the market's sliding glass doors). But when a Honey Mustard (voice of DANNY McBRIDE) is returned to the store, he comes back frightened at the horrors he saw. The other foods don't believe him. So, when he is selected a second time, he purposefully flings himself out of the grocery cart and shatters on the floor below.

The "suicide" causes a chain reaction that results in numerous products falling out of the patron's cart, including Frank (voice of SETH ROGEN) the hot dog; his girlfriend, Brenda (voice of KRISTEN WIIG), the hot dog bun; Sammy the bagel (voice of EDWARD NORTON); and Lavash the Jewish flatbread (voice of DAVID KRUMHOLTZ). Others are more "lucky" and make it to the cashier and into the Beyond, including hot dogs Carl (voice of JONAH HILL) and Barry (voice of MICHAEL CERA).

But Barry soon comes to learn the truth that a holocaust awaits all who are bought and taken back to the Gods' homes for consumption. He narrowly escapes and winds up in the house of a Druggie (voice of JAMES FRANCO) who may hold the key to getting the humans and the groceries to battle on an even playing field. Meanwhile, Frank has drawn the ire of the Douche (voice of NICK KROLL) and also learned the awful truth of life and death from Firewater, a mythic Native American product (voice of BILL HADER) and vows to wake up all of the other grocery-store items.

OUR TAKE: 6.5 out of 10
Two very notable things happened during my preview screening earlier this week for "Sausage Party." One, as you can imagine, I take some pretty thorough and serious notes when reviewing for ScreenIt.com. Folks, this flick is a hard, HARD R rating! I took 20 pages of notes from beginning to end. I am sure I didn't get everything. The profanities, crudities, imitative behavior, sex, violence, drugs, and all-around bad behavior come at the audience fast and furious. I took so many notes during this flick that at the end of it, I was actually ... SWEATING! And I mean, like, workout at the gym, torture on the treadmill, Norm Peterson "We could grow rice" perspiration. I apologize to anyone reading this who may have been sitting near me.

And, two, something happened at this preview that has NEVER happened in my nearly 20 years of being a paid, professional (cue the canned laugh track) critic. The studio representatives served free beer to the audience and press! No, I did not partake. I was on the job, man! Plus, I was far from home in a new city I am still learning to navigate, and I was there by myself. I really had to have a clear head while reviewing the film and for the voyage home.

So, what's my take for the Our Take portion of this review? Funny! "Sausage Party" is a filthy, funny smut-fest. And I feel I must point out, the film appeared to be even funnier the more ale one consumes. Just sayin'.

The film is set in a world of sentient food and groceries. That's right. Walking, talking hot dogs, bread, fruits, vegetables, even feminine hygiene products. They all sit on their supermarket shelves wishing and hoping "The Gods" (i.e. the store's human customers) buy them before their expiration dates so they can be taken to "The Great Beyond" (i.e. whatever exists outside the store's sliding glass doors).

But when one Honey Mustard (voice of Danny McBride) is returned to the store's shelves, he comes back with tales of horror of what he discovered once purchased. He speaks of a food holocaust where The Gods are actually cruel, violent monsters eager to consume them. The store doesn't believe him. But he causes just a bit of doubt in the mind of Frank the hot dog (voice of Seth Rogen). Enough for him to set out to find the truth in other corners of the store when the glass-jarred Honey Mustard commits suicide (jumps from a customer's grocery cart) and causes a chain reaction of groceries to fall to the market's floor.

From there comes a multi-pronged story of food fighting for survival inside and outside of the store, as Barry (voice of Michael Cera) the deformed hot dog narrowly escapes slaughter at a suburban single-family home outside the market and Frank runs afoul of The Douche (voice of Nick Kroll) inside the store.

Rogen and writing partner Evan Goldberg and their merry band of hucksters and hangers-on (the film features the voice of such Rogen buddies as James Franco, Jonah Hill, and Craig Robinson) serve up their usual sophomoric pot, penis, and poo-poo humor. But the story is genuinely clever and it's been in the works, according to the press notes, for about eight years. So, Rogen and Co. have really honed the concept and conceits here and hammered out an involving story.

There are, of course, several times in the film where you do want the guys to "grow up." They're actually onto something here with this R-rated version of "Toy Story" and "The Secret Life of Pets" essentially crossed with "Team America" and "South Park" ribaldry that they don't need to overstuff it with as many F-bombs and politically incorrect homosexuality and ethnic jokes. The balance is not always there, and it really should be this time out.

I also didn't care for the ending. Really didn't care for it, in fact. Without giving too much away, all concerned were clearly going for a late-game "LEGO Movie" reveal that just didn't feel organic to this particular flick. Rogen and Goldberg have been captaining this for eight years. My guess is for six of those, they didn't quite have a bang ending and suddenly saw the "LEGO" flick and thought they could get away with some late-game faux profundity.

OK, look, I know this is ScreenIt, and many of you reading this will probably not want to see a movie this incredibly raunchy (the film's climax -- no pun intended -- is a gigantic food orgy) and vulgar (130+ f-words). But this part of the review is meant to review the quality of the flick. Is it a good example of its genre? Did it accomplish what it set out to do? And the answer is an unqualified "Yes!" on all counts. There is ambition here, folks. Much more than, say, an Adam Sandler Factory film. And if you like ribald humor, there are some belly laughs here and more than a few instances where the audience almost chants in unison: "Oh that ... is ... SO wrong!"

I will leave it to your decision if Rogen, who professes to be an atheist, has gone to the well a little too often with his whole "God doesn't exist" complex he has. His issues with religion and the existence of a Creator have been a recurring theme in several flicks he's been a part of, from "Paul" to "This Is the End" to this. I actually admire the guy for trying to work stuff out in such silly, goofy flicks. Anyone who wants to explore these themes and ideas this much ... I think there's a certain nobility there in his questions and his search. You can tell he thinks about these matters a lot.

But he also thinks about farts and ejaculations and secretions a lot, too. His best intentions and worst intentions often slap up against one another. And the rest of the cast is quite game to be a part of a project with ambition. "Sausage Party" has also attracted such talents as Kristen Wiig, Edward Norton, Bill Hader, and Salma Hayek. It's a fun ride if you can take it ... and if you've had a pint or two of ice cold Bud. I give it a sober 6.5 out of 10. (T. Durgin)

Reviewed August 8, 2016 / Posted August 12, 2016

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