PLOT In a utopian supermarket, Frank the Wiener discovers what really happens to food items when they’re taken home.
CAST Seth Rogen, Michael Cera, Kristen Wiig
RATED R (crude sexual humor)
BOTTOM LINE A gleefully vulgar and very funny spoof of the Pixar formula.
The dialogue, sight gags and even character names in “Sausage Party,” an R-rated Pixar sendup from Seth Rogen and his usual gang of jokers, are mostly so off-color that they can’t be repeated here. The story centers on a wiener named Frank (Rogen), a bun named Brenda (Kristen Wiig) and an evil feminine hygiene product (Nick Kroll). To say much more would be pushing it.
Here’s the short review: “Sausage Party” is very funny. Sometimes it’s laugh-out-loud funny, sometimes slyly funny, but mostly it’s I-can’t-believe-they-went-there funny. As you might expect from Rogen and his co-writers (including Evan Goldberg, of “Superbad”), they occasionally stoop too low and talk a lot about getting high. At its best, though, this crude and crazed satire feels like an “Airplane!” for the Pixar generation.
It starts out almost straight-faced, as the happy food items in Shopwell’s sing an ode to the human gods (“The Great Beyond,” co-written by Oscar-winning Disney veteran Alan Menken, of “Beauty and the Beast”). What Frank discovers is that the “chosen” items are actually eaten: Sausages get sliced, potatoes blinded, baby carrots butchered. (Directors Conrad Vernon and Greg Tiernan do a masterful job spoofing the D-Day sequence in “Saving Private Ryan.”) Can Frank convince his fellow foods that their religion is a lie?
From here, the movie throws in every conceivable joke: A lesbian taco (Salma Hayek), a character named Sammy Bagel, Jr. (Edward Norton, doing his best Woody Allen), a specialty aisle that looks like Chinatown. Is all of this reductive and offensive? Maybe, but there’s something redemptive about the wild Dionysian ending, in which all racial and sexual boundaries are hilariously obliterated. The star-studded voice cast includes Michael Cera, Paul Rudd, Bill Hader and Craig Robinson.
Like Mad Magazine’s famous movie spoofs, “Sausage Party” has a secret admiration for the material it perverts. After all, its basic premise clearly comes from Pixar’s “Toy Story,” in which little arcade-machine aliens rapturously awaited The Claw. “Sausage Party” features a car with a Pixar bumper sticker — altered to spell out a rude pun — but Rogen and company know that savagery is the sincerest form of flattery.