Naturally, many parents will not appreciate having to tell their young offspring who see trailers and TV spots that, yes, this is a cartoon, but, no, it most certainly is not kids’ stuff. (The MPAA folks haven’t officially weighed in yet, but the movie was aptly hyped at SXSW as “the first R-rated CG animated movie.”) Just as naturally, however, the allure of an animated feature that is far closer in tone and content to Zap Comix than Pixar will be impossible for many grown-ups — and most arrested adolescents — to resist.
Working from a script credited to Rogen, Evan Goldberg, Kyle Hunter and Ariel Shaffir, co-directors Conrad Vernon and Greg Tiernan immerse viewers in a world where food, beverages and sundry other items on supermarket shelves are sentient entities who yearn to selected by benevolent “giants” for transportation to the “promised land” they’ve long been promised.
The hero of this story is a sausage named Frank (Rogen) who is smitten by his neighborhood hot dog bun (Kristen Wiig). But after a supermarket accident displaces the two star-crossed lovers (and their foodie companions), “Sausage Party” turns into an R-rated trek home. The movie features Disney-worthy voice performances (if Mickey Mouse scrubbed their mouths out with soap) by Salma Hayek, James Franco, Jonah Hill and Edward Norton, who channels Woody Allen’s New York Jewish timbre to portray a bagel.
In a post-screening Q&A, Rogen said he’d been trying to make “Sausage Party” for eight years, but most studios were too nervous to take a bet on it. “It was finding someone to agree to say, ‘Yes, I will give you money to make that movie,’” Rogen said. “That was really hard.” He finally was able to get the project off the ground — with directors Greg Tiernan and Conrad Vernon — when Annapurna’s Megan Ellison agreed to finance it.
Rogen added that his desire to tell the story came from a simple place, as a fan of cartoons growing up. “We would look at what animated movies did,” he said. “People project emotions on things around them — onto their toys, onto their cars, onto their pets. That’s what Pixar has done for the last 20 years. We thought what would it be like if our food had feelings. We very quickly realized that would be f—ed up, because we eat it.”
“Sausage Party,” which is scheduled for a Aug. 12 release from Sony Pictures Entertainment, could be a sleeper hit of the summer. But the film will need to be completed first: there are still weeks of lighting and animation left, and then composer Alan Menken will take a shot at the score. Rogen had previously come to SXSW with “Neighbors” and “Knocked Up,” and he said it was worth scrambling to get his very rough cut here, just so that Austin would be the film’s unofficial premiere. “It’s the only festival that treats comedy even remotely equal to the other genres,” Rogen said. “I’m thrilled to be showing it to you guys.”
Watch the trailer below:
(Animated) A Sony Pictures Entertainment release of a Columbia Pictures and Annapurna Pictures presentation of a Point Grey Pictures production. Produced by Megan Ellison, Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg, Conrad Vernon. Executive producers, Jonah Hill, James Weaver, Ariel Shaffir, Kyle Hunter.
Directed by Conrad Vernon, Greg Tiernan. Screenplay, Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg, Kyle Hunter, Ariel Shaffir, from a story by Rogen, Goldberg, Jonah Hill. (Color); editors, Kevin Pavlovic; music, Alan Menken; art director, Kyle McQueen; sound, Tony Crowe; casting, Michael Donovan, Francine Maisler.
Voices: Seth Rogen, Kristen Wiig, Jonah Hill, Bill Hader, Michael Cera, James Franco, Danny McBride, Craig Robinson, Paul Rudd, Nick Kroll, David Krumholtz, Edward Norton, Salma Hayek.