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“Sausage Party:” offensive, filthy and hilarious

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Upon walking out of the theater, there was a strange feeling my mind had. It was almost like my eyes swelled up to the size of Beaker’s from The Muppets. There is no other movie I can think of that left me feeling amazed and shocked at the same time. In many ways, reviewing “Sausage Party” is hard because this is truly a movie that must be seen to be believed. It’s unapologetic, its stereotypical, its dirty to the max, its a cesspool of swears and innuendos, its insane but I enjoyed every minute of it.

The basic gist is that food in a grocery store comes to life every day with the hope of being picked. You see, each product believes that when they are chosen, they are taken to a heaven of their own to enjoy. Right off the bat, you can tell exactly what kind of movie this is. Much like with “South Park” or “The Simpsons Movie,” its a cartoony and dumb concept that holds a sharp and clever commentary. And even if this is an idea that has been done before in dumb (“Foodfight”) and smart places (“The Brave Little Toaster.”)

“Sausage Party” becomes more of a view on religion and beliefs without taking a brutal beating to it. Much like with Monty Python, the comedy on the subject matter is handled well by taking satirical jabs as opposed to stepping out and making mean ramblings. One such example is a Jewish bagel arguing with a Muslim lavash about how different they are. But not by what kind of product they appear as, they argue about different beliefs and the common misconceptions with their religious customs. As the lavash dreams how he wishes to be bathed by 100 bottles of virgin oil, the bagel disagrees with the “pure nature” he proclaims. A little predicable but the delivery makes it worth the laughs.

Seth Rogan plays the lead named Frank, a sausage who gets lost from his cart during a accident. While seeking to be back on the shelf, Frank starts to question not only his purpose, but also the value of why food exists. Even if we know what happens to food, the joke is funnier when we see his reaction to the terrible truth and wonder just how he will coupe with it. As always, Rogan is a lot of fun bring a manic energy while knowing when to be charming and likable.

Kristen Wigg is surprisingly funny voicing Frank’s girlfriend Brenda, a hot dog bun who wishes for…she’s a hot dog bun. What do you think is on her mind? Perhaps interesting is how Wigg’s character is used for a counterpoint as Brenda feels the humans (or “Gods” as they are referred to) are not ones to mess with still having faith in the food’s belief system. Even more startling is Wigg’s raunchy style of comedy is let loose to some welcome and hilarious lines. Coming of off “Ghostbusters,” I felt this movie suited her better to allow more breathing room for her shtick. Her character is more than a one note walking “hot dog in bun” joke. Brenda starts to question if the value of life should truly be questioned while also wondering if morale code should be worth sticking to.

Speaking of which, the best way to describe the movie and its comedy is very much if “The Brave Little Toaster” was directed by John Waters. Just when you think the opportunity to joke about sentient groceries are wearing thin, another joke lurks around the corner unexpectedly. There are moments in “Sausage Party” where on paper is sounds dumb, but then you see the clever side of it once it gets executed. This is notable in a scene when one of the sauasges (Micheal Cera) has an encounter with a druggie who goes on a “bad trip.” Every joke seeks a good opportunity into what kind of life this addict has along with the kind of things that would happen on a drug high. It hits bullseye without missing a single beat.

The only problems I have with “Sausage Party” are surprisingly minor. In this universe, people can’t see the food walk and talk unless are drugged up. This leads to a curious question of how the products look in the eyes of a human being in reality as opposed to the reality of food. This is evident in a gag when two baby carrots try to run and it shows a shot of them running. It then cuts to a shot of the lady seeing two carrots rolling off the counter showing “reality’s perspective.” There were points when I did question what would certain moments look like from reality’s point of view as food runs across floors or mingle with each other. There is one other nitpick and it’s aimed at the final joke in the movie. Instead of ending on a high note, it breaks the fourth wall in a way so bizarre that I questioned if it was ever needed. Even a friend of mine agreed that the scene preceding it would have just been fine to end on. After a climatic and jaw-dropping moment, they try to sneak in one more jab that could have been easily cut out seeing how little it effects the story.

But for what’s worth, “Sausage Party” is worth the recommendation. There are moments that I still can help but snicker over they appear in a movie like this. I enjoyed the jokes, the characters and theological stuff as well. Its that one summer surprise that packs tons of laughs and plenty of creative effort. Now as expected, children are not the target audience for this movie. In fact, I do question if parents will be that dumbfounded to take them to see it despite the marketing clearly saying its R-rated. For those curious fools who think a tyke will sit through it, I wouldn’t even attempt it. I predict that it will be a movie that will keep kids far away from the refrigerator as possible as adults laugh over the absurd nature this movie brings.

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“Gone” in the Vaults: Should a beloved classic be banned?

The greatest movie of all time....and it offends?

The greatest movie of all time….and it offends?

During my shift at a retail store, I was asked to scope through our selection of movies and music CDs . The reason for this action was to find any film or album cover that had a Confederate flag on it. There were plenty of American flags and one didn’t think to question a Rage Against the Machines album with the iconic burning monk cover. But never would one question the idea to ban a full length feature from the shelf.

Recently, a critic of the New York Post, among a few others, stated beloved classic Gone with the Wind should be banned for its depiction of racism on not just slavery but also the Confederate war. The evidence is pushed further with the memorable shot of the dying soldiers laying out on a field. The camera pans back to show the casualties of the war as the Confederate flag waves into view. Again, a “few critics” have called the ban of a movie because of its aged material. Perhaps I should throw in my two cents because when one looks at art, you get two sides of the story.

Many can observe the Salvador Dali painting The Persistence of Memory and view it as either the death of time, due to the melting clocks, or a commentary about how surreal dreams can be. In the case of Gone with the Wind, some critics are calling out against its “racist” content, but I believe they’re not looking at the full picture here. In fact, the questionable critics is currently a small minority when compared to how many viewers love this movie. I even know a few friends of mine that really praise the greatness of this film. So if a small controversy is being drummed up, where do I stand with it?

I watched this move not too long ago just to see what the fuss was.  At first, I was adamant about the length, but when examining the character of Scarlet and the toils she goes through, it made for an interesting experience. We have someone who is searching for her own “American Dream,” which includes settling down with the right man and trying to have family. But through selfish actions and seeing the world for what it is, proves that achieving her own dream is not easy to come by. If that’s the case, why are critics making a big deal about it now?

Well, the focus deals more with what events take place during the story. The whole movie (and the novel its based from) are set during the Civil War while showing the toils of the South. As expected, there is going to be that Southern accent and appearances of the Confederate flag to reflect the time period. It even goes as far to use the historical burning of Georgia as a crucial plot point. So really the real question here is not what material is being used to offend, but how accurate can the material be to the point of offense.

Viewers will draw a line between what appeals to them and what can easily be chalked off as a trigger button. And no other element is so easy to offend than stereotypical portrayal. Watching this movie from another point of view, one can be uncomfortable by the broken dialect of the African American characters or even the Hollywood treatment of the war. Even if Gone shows the brutal effects, there is that toned down feel considering how movie-making was different back then. Gone with the Wind came out in the late 1930s, so clearly some production values (lack of extreme gore, for example) won’t stand the test of time. But if we can let The Wizard of Oz slide by its dated style and near silly elements (seriously, look at Glinda’s crown again! It has pink fuzzy stars), then what is so different from this film?

Again, the only thing being focused on as offense is the time period Gone is set within as opposed to the movie as a whole. Personally, what bugs me is when someone bans a film just for one basic element that isn’t even the whole tone of the picture. Again, I do argue the movie is more about coming of age than it is about the Civil War. The setting is used as a backdrop to make the environment of its characters more interesting because they have something to work off of. Had it been set in modern day 1939, the movie would have been a product of its time as opposed to its treatment within that time.

Take “Newsies,” for example. A Disney musical that is set during a newspaper boy strike in Olde New York. Say someone would get offended because of the stereotypical New York accents or that Mr. Pulitzer is being portrayed as the bad guy. Would the movie be considered dated by when it was created or judged by the material used at the time? It really depends on how you look at it. Some can watch it and observe the 1990s tropes that were popular then like Alan Menken’s songs or casting choices. On the other hand, one can view the treatment of the event adapted and feel negative towards the treatment as a family musical instead of a straight-forward historical biopic. It really depends on the sensitivity of the viewer and his/her cinematic taste.

So should we really turn the other cheek to a great American classic? Well, that’s up for you to decide. I won’t force the opinion, but I will say openly I can see why viewers can be offended by this movie.  However, when you boil down to it, all we are really banning is a movie that clearly so many love because of its morals as opposed to its historical presentation.  If you think its offensive and doing bad, I won’t hold it against you as long as there is a valid reason. But for a huge ban, that might be pushing it too far. We are talking about a movie that got its first Academy Award for an African American actress and has stood the test of time. For if we focus on only the offensive material, we are missing out on the bigger picture. So I ask of you, please have an open mind.