The fear I have when I go into an R-rated comedy is that the R-rating won’t be used to do more than drop in extra curses (see: Zac Efron and Robert De Niro in “Dirty Grandpa). Although that is an acceptable component of what can be done with such a rating, it ought not be the entirety of the difference. It is far superior if the humor itself requires that rating.

Sony’s CG animated “Sausage Party” does indeed require that rating. While not being a comedy for everyone—even some who can attend R movies without supervision won’t enjoy it—it is a comedy that uses its rating with gusto. It offers up not just raunchy language, but quite clearly redefines “food porn.”

Gorgeously animated, “Sausage Party” tells the story of the items available for purchase in a supermarket and the belief system of those items that has evolved within the market over time. Everything within the market believes that humans are gods, and that when they are plucked from the shelves, they go to “the great beyond.” When one item is returned and reveals the terrible truth about what happens to food when it leaves the supermarket, things fall apart.

It would be easy to say—and one can certainly imagine the minds behind the film making the argument—that the entirety of “Sausage Party” is just an excuse to make an incredible number of truly filthy jokes. The jokes come in all varieties and are levied against all people, no matter their race, religion, or nationality. Mostly though, they’re about sex.

Before we get to more of the plot, I think it’s worth pointing out that I don’t think that it’s all just an excuse for dirty jokes. One of the reasons the movie works as well as it does is because it brilliantly creates a (skewed) microcosm of our world. It takes the big disagreements we see in the world and places them onto foodstuffs where we can all see just how silly these disagreements are.

As for that plot? The main character, Frank (Seth Rogen), and his girlfriend, Brenda (Kristen Wiig), find themselves in trouble initially, she believes, because they violated the rules of the gods and left their packaging in the store so they could touch. Of course, they’re not meant to do this until they’re in the great beyond.

She’s a hot dog bun, and he’s a hot dog. The jokes practically write themselves.

Or, the ones like that appear to write themselves. “Sausage Party” works so well, in part, because it makes these sorts of jokes look easy. The supermarket in the film—and even the bits we see of the world outside it—are fully realized creations, and it is because they are fully realized that the jokes become a natural part of the flow.

Now, of course, I have to take a step back because there are moments in the film where it goes exceptionally over-the-top in its crudeness, and there is nothing at all natural about it. That being said, the amping up of the humor as a part of the climax of the film easily leads to some of the most horrifyingly funny moments.

Yes, “horrifyingly funny.” “Sausage Party” excels at cringe-worthy humor. The screenplay, written by Rogen & Evan Goldberg & Kyle Hunter & Ariel Shaffir, puts forth a plethora of moments that will cause members of the audience to stop and wonder if they really heard what they think they heard (hint: they did). It does not know when to stop and, perhaps, would do better without the hint of what “Sausage Party 2” might be about that is offered just before the credits roll. Would I like to see the hinted at sequel? Absolutely, it’s just a distressingly open-ended conclusion to this movie.

Minor missteps aside, the talented (and large) voicecast as well directors Greg Tiernan and Conrad Vernon have put together in incredibly clever, incredibly intelligent, incredibly funny movie. It is R-rated humor done right.

 

 

 

Photo credit: Sony Pictures