Sausage Party, the first R-rated CG animated movie, is about one sausage leading a group of supermarket products on a quest to discover the truth about their existence and what really happens when they become chosen to leave the grocery store. The film features the vocal talents of a who's who of today's comedy stars – Seth Rogen, Kristen Wiig, Jonah Hill, Bill Hader, Michael Cera, James Franco, Danny McBride, Craig Robinson, Paul Rudd, Nick Kroll, David Krumholtz, Edward Norton, and Salma Hayek.
From the same vulgar and juvenile imagination that also gave us 'This Is the End,' 'The Interview' and 'Superbad' comes another series of crude obscenities and lewd behavior in 'Sausage Party.' A good number of moviegoers not aware of Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg's sense of intentionally immature humor are sure to be offended, likely taken aback by it being an animated film. The green band previews notoriously played on audience's expectations, seeming like standard family fare akin to Disney/Pixar or a DreamWorks Animation production. The red band trailers, on other hand, fully disclosed the story of life in a grocery store was never meant for young viewers. But even if promotional material or this being another Rogen-Goldberg collaboration — with Jonah Hill now joining the team — were not enough in announcing the movie is for adults only, then the film's title should give some inkling to the sort of raunchiness on display for the next 90 minutes. Unless you're Drax from 'Guardians of the Galaxy' where sarcasm and insinuations go over your head, then there isn't a reason for misjudging the title's meaning as just one of thousand other lewd jokes throughout.
But even if some oblivious viewer with more modest sensibilities so happens to accidentally stumble upon this hysterical assault to civil propriety, it's only a matter of minutes before realizing 'Sausage Party' is the furthest thing from civilized or family friendly. After a comical song and dance number by the food products at Shopwell's supermarket worshipping the shoppers as gods, we're introduced to Frank (Rogen), a sausage who dreams of slipping all five inches of himself between the buns of his girlfriend Brenda (Kristen Wiig). And yes, they talk just as brazenly about consummating their relationship while waiting to be chosen by the gods for the "Great Beyond," completely unaware of the figurative meaning of their literal words. The rest of the movie is simply a laundry list of explicit, unambiguous double entendres and on the nose puns, but that's precisely the joke — various ways in which the filmmakers can cleverly make crass and racy references using any number of store items. Salma Hayek voices a taco shell named Teresa with suppressed urges she feels an unforgiving society would look down upon, and Nick Kroll, speaking in a New Jersey shore accent, is a broken douche product on a revenge murdering spree.
There is little room for delicate hearts in this crude and often boorishly blunt flick. However, what it lacks in subtlety, it more than makes up for with a surprisingly intelligent plot, suggesting the filmmakers toiling with some deeply philosophical inquiries about life on Earth. Beneath all the vulgarity and debauchery, which apparently are only a means for breaking into more poignant social taboos, we discover products bickering about other items displayed more prominently in better aisles and of being displaced from their shelves to make room for products that don't mix. A Third Reich-like regime of sauerkraut packages call for the extermination of juice, a bottle of liquor named Firewater (Bill Hader) tells of a time when he and his kind had the store all to themselves before being cast aside from their land, and Craig Robinson is a box of grits with repressed anger for crackers. But most of the bitter squabbling over who has rights to certain aisles comes from Sammy Bagel (Edward Norton doing his Woody Allen impersonation) and a Middle Eastern lavash (David Krumholtz). Their back and forth rivalry is peppered with various gags of current events leading to a larger stunt that'll leave any viewer in utter shock.
In fact, the final quarter will — as it is likely meant to — leave audiences completely appalled by the depravity while wondering how 'Sausage Party' ever passed the censors with only an R-rating. The unexpected visuals are hilarious though, the cherry on top the pie of juvenile excess. And amazingly, those final moments are probably not as offensive and shocking as Frank's existential journey of self-realization. After a jar of honey mustard (Danny McBride) is returned and passionately insists the stories about being chosen by benevolent gods into the "Great Beyond" are nothing more than lies, Frank sets off on a quest to learn the truth, and the filmmakers are just as blunt about the matter as everything else. Granted, they could have been a bit more diplomatic on the subject, but it's the sort of story that would make Heidegger, Kierkegaard and Sartre proud. In fact, many of the ideas touched on fit snugly, if also somewhat crudely, within Albert Camus's notions of the Absurd and Friedrich Nietzsche's concepts of self-actualization through art and will to power. Of course, the animated adult film's lack of subtlety in this area is arguably one of its weaknesses, but overall, given its crassness and vulgarity, the movie comes with a surprising level of intelligence and enlightenment some audiences will find appealing.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment brings 'Sausage Party' to Blu-ray on a Region Free, BD50 disc inside a blue eco-vortex keepcase with a code for an UltraViolet Digital Copy. The disc starts with a series of skippable trailers, and the main menu is the standard selection with a static screen and music playing in the background.
The groceries come alive in HD thanks to a superbly clean, demo-worthy 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 encode, one which provides the CG characters with an almost 3D quality sans the glasses. Each condiment bottle, as well as Frank and Brenda, come with a realistic roundness to their shape while the rest of picture reveals every nook and crook and other random objects scattered throughout the grocery store. The lettering on the labels of packages, on storefront windows and the signs in the great beyond are razor-sharp. The tiled floor of the store shows minor blemishes and tiny scratches from years of being walked on customers and shopping carts. Viewers can plainly make out the dimples, brown burnt marks and the dry, rough texture of Kareem Abdul Lavash and Teresa del Taco, adding to the animation's realism.
Presented in its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio, the squeaky-clean, digital-to-digital transfer also arrives with spot-on contrast and crisp, brilliant whites, allowing for superb visibility in the far distance and during several nighttime sequences. Black levels are inky rich and opulent in every frame, providing the image with a welcomed three-dimensional quality that's consistent from beginning to end. Adding to this is a sumptuous array of colors, from glowing reds and greens to soft earth tones, warm browns and oranges, and various other radiant pastels. Arguably, some of the most impressive aspects of the animation are the way in which certain colors subtly fade into other shades without a hint of banding, such the brown of bread products dimming into a more cream tint or the pasty-white features of Darren's face fade into an ugly, pale smoky shade in specific areas.
Overall, looking beyond the simplistic-looking animation style, the video presentation is really remarkable with much to admire.
The party also erupts on Blu-ray with a fantastic DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack that brings the celebration along with the existential chaos of nothingness.
During shopping hours, much of the attention is focused and maintained within the soundstage, which feels broad and expansive as various noises in the background fill all three channels with convincing effectiveness. Dynamic range is pristine with superb detailing and separation between each instrument in Alan Menken and Christopher Lennertz's score, and action sequences maintain this clarity even in the loudest, raucous moments. Amid all the mayhem and havoc, vocals remain well-prioritized and distinct, allowing listeners to enjoy every ridiculously, not-so-subtle innuendo and double entendre. The low-end delivers a dramatic punch and weight to the music while feeling equally robust and commanding during every explosion, crash of heavy objects and stomping of the giant human gods.
Piling on the hilarious juvenile revelry is the incredible amount of activity in the rears, creating an almost continuously immersive 360° soundfield. Action sequences are expectedly layered with various noises of debris falling all around or certain objects flawlessly panning from one channel to the next. It's not long before viewers become aware of this, as within the first ten minutes, an accidental spill turns into complete 'Saving Private Ryan' pandemonium, filling the room with screams, mini explosions in the distance and the confused voices of the wounded. Later, in the final quarter of the movie, the war for freedom from the gods ignites again with the shouts from angry foods taking to the skies or flying down from the top shelves. Even quieter, more character-driven moments come with subtle atmospherics of grocery story activity or the chatter of other food items celebrating the night, making for a first-rate lossless audio experience.
On the surface, 'Sausage Party' is simply another series of crude obscenities and lewd behavior from the imagination of Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg and Jonah Hill. But hiding and sniveling in the shadows of all debauchery is a surprising amount of intelligence and enlightenment some audiences will find appealing while others will complete despise. The Blu-ray arrives with a reference-quality audio and video presentation that'll sure impress the haters as much as those who love the movie. Sadly, a disappointingly small collection of supplements might give the curious pause, but the package is recommended.
Portions of this review also appear in our coverage of Dunkirk on Blu-ray. This post features unique Vital Disc Stats, Video, and Final Thoughts sections.