Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Sausage Party: this is what drugs do, kids

I’ve often complained that a movie script seems to have been written on beer mat. Sausage Party shows every sign of having been written on the discarded fast food wrappers after someone got a fit of the munchies. What’s amazing is how many good moments they fit in along the way.

About half way through the movie, a druggie takes a tonne of bath salts and starts to see all the food in his apartment as living creatures. It’s as though the writers have popped their heads up and said “Key, kids, how do you think we came up with this movie?” It’s the kind of idea you can only have if you’re baked off your face. It’s also the kind of idea which it’s best not to overthink. The food is all sentient, and so are the douches, condoms and toilet paper, but not the cutlery. Also, the tequila is manifest as its packaging, but the hot dogs and buns just living in the packaging. There’s not a lot of internal consistency to the conceit is what I’m saying.

So what? The question is what do they do with it? A lot of really dirty jokes. A climax which is all about the power of physical pleasure, since it feels weird to try to figure out how food would have sex, or what the children would be like if the sex had any purpose beyond having fun with other foodstuffs. And a relentless critique of organised religion, combined with a slightly more subtle critique of the way that rationalists are really terrible at getting people to agree with them. I suspect that this all came from the writer’s hearts, and that it will change exactly nobody’s mind about anything.

But what really impressed me was the moments along the way. They have Meatloaf. Singing as a meatloaf. It shouldn’t be as hilarious as it is. They’ve got a piece of chewing gum as a bad-ass Stephen Hawking, which again oughtn’t to be hilarious. And they’ve got a really breathtaking scene in the first act where all hell breaks loose in the produce aisle, and for a few brief moments the movie perfectly echoes an epic disaster movie. A bag of flour explodes, covering everything in clouds of white dust; bottles shatter and send fragments flying through bystanders; it’s everything you’ve ever seen in a Michael Bay movie, and somehow it’s parodying it and still making you care about what’s happening to the characters on screen. And that cloud of dust is so close to my images of 911 that I can’t imagine that I’m the only person who saw it, and somehow even that works; they’re borrowing a disaster in a way which despite everything doesn’t seem disrespectful. Well, at least not by the standards of everything else they get up to.

And it all ends on an insane sequel hook, as Gum and Tequila punch right through the fourth wall and explain to the surviving foodstuffs that none of this makes any sense because they’re not even real food; they’re cartoons. Whereupon they set off through an interdimensional portal to beat sense into the insane gods who’ve been pulling their cartoon puppet strings. Fittingly for foodstuffs, they go through a portal made out of a toilet seat.

I can’t think of a single person who I’d recommend any of this to, but I’m glad I saw it.

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