(Another long intro, so skip to the review if you don’t care about my feelings on adult animation)
Hello, Spongey here.
Remember when Kids Entertainment was really scrutinized, and people treated any good kids product like a miracle? Seriously, I remember as time when that was the case, but it’s hard to remember with how things have changed.
Sure, not everything is great but in general we’ve accept that most kids entertainment, especially cartoons, are fine by default. Now the hate has been directed at adult animation. Oh boy, that’s a can of worms.
Thanks to some lesser entertainment, cartoons were seen as a kids stuff, so it was pretty shocking when they made animation for adults. At the time it was seen as shocking and clever when something seen as for kids could have adult themes.
And as of 2016…the landscape hasn’t changed too much. Yeah, it’s no secret that a lot of adult animation basically amounts to being shocking for the sake of being shocking. You know the examples. Modern Family Guy, Mr Pickles, etc etc.
In other mediums, like books and live action film, we’ve seen how using adult themes can pay off, but animation doesn’t always take advantage of that. I like to think things changing a bit with Rick & Morty, and BoJack Horseman, and there being less really bad ones, but we still got Bordertown this year.
But like in the example I provided at the start, there does seem to be a sort of unfair scurrility. Yes, there’s plenty of bad adult animation ,but good stuff isn’t as rare as you think. Besides the two I mentioned, Bob’s Burgers, Archer, and Venture Bros are still on air and pretty good/well recviered.
And even the bad ones can have their moments, I did a whole list to prove that last year. What I’m trying to say is that just because some of it’s bad, doesn’t mean it’s all bad. There also seems to be a belif that just becomes an adult cartoon uses gore or shock humor, it’s automcially horrible trash.
That is certainly not true, as you can have that stuff and still be good. South Park proved that, Just like it’s unfair to pan any kids show with gross out, it’s unfair to pan an adult show just for having gore in some way.
A show doesn’t need to be “deep” like Bojack to be worthwhile. The reason I say all this because it ties into the film being reviewed today. Adult Animation on TV is pretty common thanks to Adult Swim, but Adult Animation on the big screen is really rare.
The only examples I can think of are older, or feel old, like 9. Yeah, that was PG-13, for those who haven’t seen it. So when it was announced that Seth Rogen would do an R Rated Animated film, there was plenty of discussion.
Seth Rogen’s involvement is important, because he is known for some raunchy stuff, meaning the content here isn’t too shocking. I like him fine, even if he ends up playing himself in everything he’s in.
As you can imagine, when the trailers hit, a lot of people were already whining because it seemed to be exactly what adult animation tends to be. Shock for the sake of it, and tons of F Bombs.
But I saw something a bit more interesting, and as we found out more, I became more interested. The concept actually seemed a bit clever, and since I already like Seth Rogen, I trust him way more than someone like Seth MacFarlane.
My optimism did go down a bit, when the script got leaked and some people I know got a hold of it. I refuse to look at leaks when they are full episodes (Cough Steven Universe) so there was no way I was reading this, but the stuff I kept hearing did not sound great.
But on the bright side, so far it’s getting good reviews, with an 83 on Rt. Granted, I’ve noticed many of the reviewers are not familiar with this kind of thing so they think any animation that isn’t for kids is “clever”, so this isn’t a great sign.
But 83 is nothing to scoff at. For our actual creative team, we have two directors. One did Madagascar 3, and the other has worked on things involving Thomas the Tank Engine. …Quite the tonal shift there.
For our our 4 writers, two are the usual team of Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, and the others are also Seth’s buddies, having written The Night Before.
So after that long intro, could this possibly be another good adult animated product, or will I have to crash this party? Let’s find out!
This, is Sausage Party
Besides the writing issues I brought up, adult animation can sometimes fail with the…well, animation. Because most kids shows look pleasing and can feature a lot of detail, some adult cartoons look ugly or linted by contrast.
And again, that got old. I prefer it when it actually looks really nice, to make the contrast better. Just look at The Boondocks for an example of this. This movie does fall prey to it…but it works in some ways too.
The human designs aren’t really that great, as can be a tad ugly with their weird body proportions. But to be fair, that is the point since the humans are basically the bad guys to them.
In terms of the actual style, I like how from the foods’ POV, everything is bright and colorful but in reality, the world is pretty bleak and Grey. It’s a nice contrast, and is shown best when a guy does bath salts to see the food world.
Speaking of the food, they do look fine. They all pretty much look like they do in real life, just with arms and legs. A bit lazy but there is variety, and they play around by giving some more human features.
Even if a means getting bun boobies.
The food character animation is decent. They move fine, and they do get some good expressions and this can work in the more action heavy scenes. There’s not much to really say other than that, really.
Yes, it can be too limited and is generally nothing special, but the animation is mostly serviceable enough for me to be okay with it. And hey, at least most of it isn’t too ugly.
In a grocery store, food are not only alive, but they think when they leave, they go a great beyond. A sausage named Frank and his bun girlfriend end up separated when their friends are taken to the beyond, and not only get lost in the store, but find out the horrible truth about the beyond…
I already went into how adult animation tends to go for the shock jokes, instead of taking advantage of the medium to do something truly deep.
In film, that problem could become worse. I mean, animated food swearing can be amusing for a short, but that can wear thin at feature length. To an adult animated film, you can actually need a story to back it up, especially if you’re a raunchy comedy with the mixed reactions these kind of things get.
And this movie….kind of…has it! No, I’m not joking, this actually has a story with…something to say! I’m not even looking deep, it’s obvious with how they talk about the situation and call humans the gods. This movie is kind of about faith. The food blindly believe that there is a great beyond simply because they were told that, and they learn the consequences, in a very comedic way of course.
The story in general is actually a good one. The film cleverly address religion and how much faith is okay, Now, you can argue there are problems, because the religion here is bad. If you believe in the great beyond, you will die.
That’s…not the best thing to say. However, you can argue this is all for comedic exaggeration. This is their silly way of showing where blind faith can take you, it’s not meant to be taken literally.
And they don’t bash the followers. Frank doesn’t get to them until he realizes they aren’t idiots for believing in the great beyond. After all, he believes in it, because that’s all he knew, there was no evidence at his disposal to the contrary.
So as a story, this movie can actually be fairly smart with how it looks at religion. …However, it doesn’t 100 percent work as a whole. Yeah, as you guessed, the adult nature sadly gets in the way.
The film uses a bit much shock and vulgar humor sometimes. Actually, most of the time in the former’s case. Now, to be fair, the shocking parts aren’t as horrific as I figured they would be. There is some clever-ness to some of it, like that certain bit you see in the trailer.
(Which doesn’t happen until halfway through, by the way).
But there are some parts that feel like too much, like a certain death, and a bit at the end some of you may already know about. I’m not offended, it’s just distracting on a narrative level.
And man, do they abuse the F word here. In the first 5 minutes, I was sick of it. It toned down a bit in the 2nd half, but it gets pretty tiresome. That is a stapl eof Seth’s comedy in general, but it felt even more forced here.
They start too early as well. They should have eased into it, started out almost like it will be a family film before breaking out the swear but instead, the very first word spoken is “Shit”.
Back to the story, they could have done more. There aren’t a ton of interesting twists, which is fine. But at points they touch on some things that could have been really interesting, but it’s just a throwaway scene. I’ll go into this more in the character section.
I won’t do an enjoyment section here (But I will still rate it at the end) as there isn’t much to say. It’s brought down by too much swearing and some failed shock humor, but I did laugh a few times. Mostly at the side comments, and certain performances, especially from who the villain exactly is.
My favorite part is the ending. No spoilers…but it made me want to see a sequel. Yeah.
In a way, the writing surprise me and features some of my concerns. It is brought down by lame shock humor, and too many F bombs, as well as not going all the way with a few themes, but it can be amusing and actually give us a smart, almost thought provoking story about faith.
It’s a mixed bag, but still much better than I expected.
The film is more about the concepts, so there’s nothing deep in terms of characters, so they decided to go for quantity over quality like in Secret Life of Pets…some but like that one, some of it works.
Starting with Frank, voiced by Seth Rogen, he’s basically just the hero who finds about the world and tries to get everyone to listen. There’s not much to him, but he’s at least not an asshole like he could have been, especially later on. Seth’s voice work does add some enjoyment to him at least.
Then there is his girlfriend, Brenda the bun, voiced by Kristen Wiig. While he is just the love interest, she gets an arc with how she thinks the gods are angry with her and having to deal with the truth. She gets some nice moments to make her a bit more interesting, even if she’s still not anything special.
Then there’s my favorite character, the villain, voiced by Nick Kroll, who is a douche. …As in, a literal Douche. His concept alone makes him funny, and the best shock jokes come with him and how he gains power. He even has a good motivation that fits in the themes. Sadly, he’s not the best threat in the end, and he doesn’t leave a huge impact. Still, he’s a fun villain.
(Oddly enough, he isn’t shown at all in the trailers, so I guess he’s a spoiler? Didn’t mark it, cuz it’s not like I’ll get comments saying I’m a spoiling asshole when it’s not a big deal.
…Seriously, Enchantress being the villain isn’t that big of a spoiler, I only marked it to be nice)
The best written character would be Barry, voiced by Micheal Cera. He’s a smaller sausage who is always mocked and is taken to the “great beyond” and must escape after finding out the truth. The arc he gets actually makes him interesting, and he has some actually nice moments. He’s not too complex, but he was the most likable one.
The rest are just there, so we can go pretty fast. There’s a taco named Teresa, voiced by Selma Hayek. She’s a lesbian with the hots for Brenda. Yeah, they use this for lame jokes…but this is where that wasted theme I mentioned comes into play.
She knows this is seen as wrong so she doesn’t just out and asks Brenda to do her. She does tell her, and Brenda is open but she can’t due to what she was that. Now, they could have used to really go deep into the themes, and maybe have Brenda realize she only loves Frank because she’s supposed to or something.
Nope, it amounts to nothing more than a joke. The scene itself isn’t ruined and makes the taco more interesting, but man, what a waste of a good idea.
With her are a Lavah voiced by David Krumholtz, and a bagel voiced by Edward Norten. They can be amusing thanks to their voice actors, but like a lot of the others, they are just there to help out.
A bit more important would be Firewater, voiced by Bill Hader. He’s a native American guy who tells them of the great beyond. He pretty much exists for that, but he works on that level. That’s about it, same for his buddies.
Our main human character is a drug addict voiced by James Franco, who in the end only helps get Barry home. You think him seeing the world would lead to do a big thing, but no. That seems to be the joke, though.
And the rest aren’t worth mentioning, as they tend to one off jokes, or are ditched early on, like a Honey Mustard that start the idea of the great beyond being bad. There is one small guy worth mentioning.
Remember how in Rachet and Clank, Vincent Tong voiced a character and a few other MLP provided smaller roles? …That happened here. I’m not kidding. He’s just a small guy this time…but yeah, they are here. …I did not expect that.
With the characters, there are too many like in other films, but some can stand out as amusing enough, and none are really hatable, so I’ll be nice.
In a way, Sausage Party represent adult animation in general. In can use the meduim to just throw a bunch of shock humor and swear words, with some story elements being under cooked, and a few too many character and stereotypes. But it can also manage to give us nice enough animation, and a surprisingly interesting story about faith can help give us a few decent characters.
This was so close to being flat out pretty good, as it has some clever and smart ideas for an animated feature. The bad parts don’t even bug me as much as I thought they might. But it sadly does fall in short, due to some lacking humor and overly shocking or gross bits.
When you get past the filth, it does have something to say and it’s easy to see. However, that filth can be a big distraction. I do think it has more to offer than some may say. You can argue the good parts become worse once you see that they are brought down by typical adult animation antics.
And while I can see that, the fact that it actually tries to be clever and smart at all, is a big plus. It’s a step in the right direction, although I fear it will spawn rip offs that mess the point and are JUST bad shock humor.
I’d mostly recommend this to fans of this kind of messed up humor, because you will really get into this. And, no, you are not a dumb person if you enjoy adult animation with shock humor. There is a place for that, and some people really enjoy thayt and it’s fine. If you can enjoy Mr Pickles or the weirder parts of this, rock on.
In the end, I thought it was okay. It is brought down by some problems, but it manages to be amusing in some areas and has some interesting stuff to chew on, even if it doesn’t all work. There is some honest effort, and it’s clear Seth and pals at least tried to make what they think is funny.
It’s not all mindless and it has enough smart elements to make it…passable for me, and great for others. If you want some raunchier humor with your animation, go ahead. It’s not all for me, but don’t let that stop you, they tried hard enough with the good elements to make itokay..
And yeah…now I do want that sequel, with how this ends.
(Insert comment about Foodfight here)
(And yes, there were some kids at my screenings. Two looked like teens though, and one had a parent and didn’t react to the bad bits so…i guess it’s fine)
Well, that was interesting. Even with it’s flaws, it proved to be more interesting than I thought. I had a lot to say about adult animation here, and I hope people realize that having some shock stuff is okay.
Yes, it’s better to have smart stuff, but you shouldn’t shun something because it’s not always your taste. And we are getting enough good stuff with Bojack. I hope this leads to other adult features that are better, instead of worse stuff.
Anyway, what’s next?
New films from the makers of Caroline and Paranorman, that is a Japanese style epic with insanely ambitious looking stop motion.
…SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY!