By Megan Bianco
Since Ralph Bakshi’s shockingly racy animated cult comedy Fritz the Cat in 1972, the market for R- or even NC-17-rated animated films has had few efforts and even fewer successes. But what’s a hit is really a home run. Bakshi found followers with Fritz, Coonskin (1975) and American Pop (1981). Two generations later, Matt Stone and Trey Parker gained notoriety with South Park: Bigger, Longer, Uncut (1999) and Team America: World Police (2004). And to a lesser extent, Richard Linklater’s roto-scoped dramas Waking Life (2001) and A Scanner Darkly (2006) became critical darlings. Since then, there has yet to be a mature cartoon to grab audiences.
But this August, Sausage Party, an R-rated film that just staved off the NC-17 mark, brings longtime friends and comedy partners Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen of Superbad (2007), Pineapple Express (2008) and This is the End (2013) back together, with Rogen joining his usual on-screen buddies Jonah Hill, Paul Rudd, Kristen Wiig, Bill Hader and Michael Cera to voice a group of foul-mouthed, drug-induced, sex-obsessed grocery products who discover the meaning of their short lives in this vulgar CGI cartoon.
Sausage Party brings in some unexpected names behind the scenes like indie producer Megan Ellison and Disney composing legend Alan Menken, but its tone and humor are typical of the Judd Apatow variety. There is a fair share of social commentary on racial stereotypes and religion that is pretty ham-fisted, yet some of the food puns are amusing enough, and Edward Norton’s spot-on Woody Allen impression as a bagel might be worth viewing with a group of friends.