There is one key takeaway from this movie: it’s not enough to have a bunch of food items swear the whole movie if they’re not actually saying anything funny.
FOOD + SWEARING = COMEDY GOLD
^^^^The above equation only works for about 3-5 minutes, tops. An entire movie? That’s stretching it even more than your average sausage casing.
Beyond that, there are two huge faults with the movie that keep it from reaching the epic classicness the film clearly wants to reach for:
1) No message is fun to listen to if it’s one note played over and over and over.
2) Pointing something out without extending on it is not smart. It’s showing off. And the look-at-that-annoying-kid kind of showing off.
The first problem: the movie tries to go with a really subversive idea that the Great Beyond the food actually dream (and sing!) of is going into the mouths of hungry Americans. In other words: Heaven is a literally grind of the teeth. Followed by saliva. Followed by digestion and other heartless, disgusting processes. The food, however, have no idea the story they’ve been sold their whole lives is a complete lie.
It doesn’t take more than a few seconds to realize what they’re trying to say. It’s obvious this film is a comment on religion in general, but what it sorely misses is a counterpoint in any way, shape, or form. The movie never bothers to show how believing the lie is actually something good or helpful. In the minds of the writers, the lie is good for absolutely nothing. It’s playing one shrieking note over and over again.
Contrast that with This is the End, which riffed on The Rapture (and the subsequent Apocalypse). What the film does so well is that it treats the Rapture straight, as if all the religious stories are really happening. The great twist is that even the nonbelievers can get in if they do something truly good and selfless for someone else. It takes a very common Christian value and makes it clear that ANYONE – including those who believe smoking weed and playing video games is about as good as Life gets, and who generally don’t care for a huge swath of Earth’s population – can get into Heaven. It took an idea and made a commentary on it. It recontextualized a common belief into something far richer and deeper. And it did it all within the framework of a movie full of comedians swearing, smoking weed, and doing tons of stupid shit.
So I know the writing team is capable of doing something a movie like Sausage Party badly needs. They just forgot to pack those ingredients into their menu. They forgot to add some jalapeno and cheddar to the sausage, if you will. They forgot to provide vegetarian and vegan options. And they forgot that some people just don’t want anything to do with sausage and that’s totally their right. (Okay, this metaphor is getting out of control).
The other thing Sausage Party does it is brings up all kinds of things like a proud 7th grader yelling, “See! I TOLD YOU studying on the night before the test would pay off! I REMEMBER THIS STUFF!“. The problem with studying the night before the test is that you may remember the names and important dates, but you lose the story behind them. You lose context and meaning. And when you lose the story, you don’t have the material you need to recontextualize it into something interesting and insightful. As a result, we get a mention of the Palestine-Israeli conflict, but with no actual comment on it. We get mentions of Nazi Germany, Native Americans, and African-American culture, as well, but, again, with no additional comment or point of view being made.
As a result, Sausage Party came out with all the attention and fanfare of HOLY SHIT, can you believe they actually pulled this off? We marveled at how they could make a pretty decently animated movie for such a low cost (it would take a trained movie eye to see just how they did it so cheaply – something they later got in trouble for), and that they even made the darn thing without getting sued through their eyeballs. But after its release, it quickly faded from the conversation, and I imagine the reason is this: nobody wants to have their head beaten with a message, listen to swearing with no comedy or real punch line, or endure a hyperactive, slacking 7th-grader bragging\
about whatever names and dates he remembered for 90 minutes straight. There are some good jokes and clever gags – how could there not be? – but there’s not enough for a full, satisfying meal.