Sunday, August 14, 2016

A quick note about "Sausage Party"

I haven't laughed this hard since The Aristocrats – a decade ago, gasp! But only at the food orgy at the end. Before that, chuckles and giggles, but nothing that threatened a urinary accident. 

Sausage Party opens in a supermarket, Shopwell's, and spends much of its time there, but with unpleasant excursions to the outside world, known as "The Great Beyond" to the items stocking the shelves. It is their hope to be chosen by the gods, that is, shoppers, to be taken to a wonderful life in that great beyond. The film follows a group of groceries into the outer world and witnesses their grisly and painful disillusionment upon discovering that it is their fate in life to be eaten. But some of them return to tell the tale.

Meanwhile, Frank, a sausage, loves Brenda, a bun. They have their own adventures inside the store.  She with a lesbian taco. And he with Firewater, a bottle of liquor, and his kazoo-toking cronies (including I kid you not a Twinkie). They tell Frank the truth, which he verifies when he discovers a cookbook and looks inside. So Frank sets about the thankless task of trying to convince the others that The Great Beyond is an imaginary hope.

Before this a jar of Honey Mustard had been returned to the store. He saw the truth and didn't like it. He's on his own mission of grim-truth-telling even as an angry douche is on the loose and causing trouble. You won't believe where that douche finally meets his destiny. OK, yes, by the time we get there, you'll believe it. And the wiener visual pun. 

Nice bits throughout, clever bits, funny bits. And I kept thinking: This can't possibly work out! What kind of victory is possible for these fruits, vegetables, meats, potatoes, condiments, baked items, assorted nutritional liquids, and packaged goods? They were created by humans, even if they don't know it, for consumption by humans, which they're now discovering to their dismay. So they stage a revolt, so they manage to subdue the staff of the supermarket and the "gods" wandering the aisles, so what? How long can such a victory last? Not long, not long at all. So what's the point?

Every few minutes I'd run that down in my mind, not so discursively, just a flash for a second or two. Even so, the jokes and the action. In one scene we see a potato being peeled before being dropped in boiling water. It was kinda' shocking. We knew what was going to happen, we could see it coming – are they really going to go there? – after the woman had put the water on to boil, then reached to the countertop, grabbed the potato, giddy with joy at being handled, pleased as she scrubbed it, and then shocked and screaming upon being peeled.

Graphic violence, against a talking potato! I've seen some grisly movies and TV shows, some where people were cruelly tortured, but I've never actually seen the skin being sliced from a living body. Substitute a potato, put it in a cartoon, and it was actually a bit shocking. Even as I knew it would happen, I was a bit shocked to see the potato peeled before my eyes on the screen (though I've done such things many times in real life). Yes, cartoon violence is notoriously anodyne, but not this, suspended between the reality of torturing and murdering humans, the reality of peeling vegetables, and the reality of Itchy and Scratchy destroying one another for one seven minute romp after another. And somehow the decapitated head of a drug-using loser-human ends up in an aisle, after which we see how that happened, though we don't actually see the ax slice into the neck.

And, there it was, popping into my mind again: this can't end well. A wad of chewing gum spouting physics and disguised as Stephen Hawking? No! Can't end well, no it can't.

It's a matter of logic. We know that cartoons posit impossible things in an impossible world. That's fine, as long as they're internally consist about that impossible world, things are fine. But this whole misadventure seemed to rest on a premise that can't possibly deliver on any kind of ever-after, much less a happily ever-after. So these fruits, meats, buns, and paper goods manage to destroy the entire agribusiness complex, what then? Talk about your scorched earth!

Apocalypse Now!

But that food orgy just before the FINAL REVELATION, that had us rolling in the aisles. Not really, but you get the idea. There were only 30 or 40 of us in the theater, it was a mid-afternoon showing, but we laughed for a 100. It was that funny. Polymorphous perversity on intergallactic overdrive, but only foodstuffs and packaged goods. Left nothing and everything to the imagination.

Lots of filthy language, but not quite up there with The Aristocrats. That was wall-to-wall filth, but no vegetables and shopping carts.

Worth the price of admission.

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