Sausage Party is the story of a young hot dog that I think we can all relate to. After all, who among us does not wish to pierce the veil of misinformation through which we view our lives? Who among us would not wish to pass our newfound state of enlightenment to our fellow man freeing them from the shackles of profundity? And who among us would not wish to topple the false gods who hold us in thrall, subject to their capricious and cruel whims? Sausage Party tackles all these questions and more. And as some of the more astute readers among us may have noticed, Sausage Party is indeed what we’ve all been waiting for, a The Matrix, for 2016.
Our hot dog’s tale begins, much like Neo’s, trapped in a wrapper next to many of his fellow dogs, isolated from the outside world not only by his physical trappings, but by an omnipresent dogma received as sacrosanct. The world this food lives in is one where divisions based on aisle and place of origin have grown to become an intractable part of society, and where rules passed down devoid of original purpose must be followed. It’s important to note that these consumables lack the written word, without which they are beholden to the whims of a society in thrall to an ever shifting oral tradition. Through this the film raises some important points about the necessity of keeping a recorded history, without which the advancement of civilization is forever in doubt.
Our hero the hot dog, has his reverie taken from him through cruel circumstance, but while his adventure begins with the pursuit of normalizing his situation, it soon takes a detour as he runs into some colorful characters, a Twinkie, a bottle of Firewater, and a box of Grits with whom he “takes the blue pill.”
While the hot dog is becoming “woke” we are simultaneously being shown the stories of Taco, Bun, Lavosh, and Bagel on a parallel journey to try and return to what they believe is their place in the world. Although they are able to eventually find it, they find that through unexpected misfortune, there is much to learn even if one does not desire it. The experience separates them from their companions and leaves them although richer in knowledge poorer for no longer knowing exactly who they are, and what to believe is true.
Sausage Party spends much of its running time exploring how hot dogs and other items of food struggle to find meaning, and how constraining it can be if they prescribe too much to systems built by others. The film keeps to this notion so strenuously that it does not recommend even its own whole-scale rejection of systems, but recommends that one find their own way.
I enjoyed Sausage Party and have as well been enjoying pontificating over its myriad insights, but I do have a couple of reservations keeping this from being a full blown endorsement. One is that Sausage Party is not a good title for this film. Better would have been “Naughty Food Adventure” or maybe, “God’s Not Dead, For These Foods.” I as well think Keanu Reeves should have been in the movie, seeing as how much it owes to one of his pioneering works. Hopefully that will be rectified in the sequel. Other than these grievous errors, I wholeheartedly recommend it. Sausage Party is a well constructed and thoughtful film, one which does an excellent job of “thinking outside the bun.”