ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT EDITOR
I loved “This Is the End” I honestly did. It had this sort of raw creativity to it that made it a film I wanted to watch and re-watch. It was raunchy, yes, but every other shot it was trying something else new and it was fantastic. I also liked “The Interview,” which was also pretty wild, if a little more devoted to routine. Plenty of flaws, but still a consistently funny and entertaining ride.
With “Sausage Party,” Seth Rogen and co-writer Evan Goldberg are still co-writing, but they are not directing. Maybe that’s the problem, but I suspect its more that their routine has grown tired. There’s about 30 minutes of material here, but it’s stretched out into feature length. They leave room for a sequel, but it sounds like the sequel should have been squeezed into the movie proper, because “Sausage Party” strains.
One sausage, named Frank (voiced by Rogen) gets separated from his friends on their way to “the great beyond” (getting purchased from the supermarket and eaten). He initially starts on a Pixar-esque journey to get home that quickly turns into a journey of discovery as to what “the Great Beyond” really means.
The movie as a whole is a religious allegory. It’s meant to parallel the current discussion between religion and atheism. You probably figured that out, however, as “Sausage Party” is about as subtle as a brick to the face.
Here’s the problem, the really, really big problem with this movie: there is no energy that extends beyond the surface level novelty of the premise. The big, Disney-esque song at the beginning is amusing, and the massacres that later ensue offer big laughs, at least the first two times. Also funny is a scene where a man does bath salts, and afterwards can understand what all of the foods are saying (upon re-incorporation this is wasted, but funny when first introduced nonetheless). This movie is far too overconfident, and is nowhere near smart enough to justify that.
Now the next question one might have is why I like “The Interview” and “This Is the End,” which are both built around the same varieties of dumb humor. Well, “This Is the End” was working around a theme or two, it was interested in the private lives of celebrities and wanted to explore that in a silly way. It worked gangbusters. “The Interview” was more about poking the bear and the ensuing controversy probably made it a more interesting film than it was. Aside from pure trolling, the movie was constructed around its technique, and set-pieces to give Rogen and James Franco funny things to do.
That’s the problem with “Sausage Party.” It doesn’t always know what it is, as arrogant as it sounds, it doesn’t know its place. The commentary on religion sounds trite, and it sounds trite because it is coming from the wrong kid. The stoner kid is the one you go to so you can have fun, he doesn’t recite Proust because he’d do it badly. You leave reciting Proust to the kid you go to, so you can have Proust recited. “Sausage Party” is not a good movie, even though it is not an overwhelmingly awful one. The sequel sounds like a good premise, I’m sure it will be overlong, too.