Sausage Party Review

Seth Rogan I feel is one of those people that you either love or hate. I know so many people who either think it’s one of the best comedy creators of the 21st century and others who wouldn’t watch his films unless you forced them to. Me, I’m a bit of both; I like Knocked Up and Superbad but couldn’t get into Pineapple Express. And now, his latest, an animated film, Sausage Party is in theatres.

Sausage Party stars Seth Rogan, Kristen Wiig, Bill Hader, Michael Cera and Jonah Hill and is directed by Conrad Vernon and Greg Tiernan. The film follows a sausage called Frank (Rogan) and his girlfriend Brenda, a bun (Wiig) who find out the terrible things that happen to food when they leave the supermarket.

The cast list is immense. Aside from the ones previously mentioned, the film also includes Edward Norton, Salma Hayek, James Franco and Danny McBride. And unlike other animated films none of them sound like themselves (2016s The Jungle Book is the opposite, with some voices being so recognisable that it became distracting). Even Rogan sounds quite a bit different from his usual persona, it took a long time for me to realise it was him.

The jokes meanwhile, are your usual Rogan-style. Even with a cast made up of various food-items, Rogan manages to push in marijuana and stoner jokes, like every other film of his. The jokes lose some of their shine as the film goes on, you see one jar of honey mustard swear and make sexual innuendos, seen them all. The jokes do pick up however in the final act. The final twenty minutes is a roaring mad send-off to a film that was losing steam, with the last five minutes being a fantastic gross-out scene, making the Elephant Scene from Grimsby look tame by comparison.

The film’s laughs aren’t just powered by sex, drugs and swearing though. There are a few cute visual sight gags, such as a Jewish Bagel and a Middle Eastern Lavash constantly trading verbal barbs, a jar of sauerkraut that looks vaguely Nazi-fied (and wants to destroy all juice, a bit of wordplay) and “I’d Do Anything For Love” sung by an actual Meat Loaf. It’s more satirical than the trailers would give it credit, with ideas about religion and politics being explored, if a little bit on the nose. All these jokes are added for the more eagle-eyed viewers, but are sadly overpowered by the traditional “Stoner-Bro” comedy of Rogan and his entourage.

The story, to cut it down to its bare essentials could be said to be Toy Story but for grown-ups. You remember how Buzz Lightyear thought he was a real spaceman before learning the truth? It’s that, just filled with a lot more swearing and sex. Apart from that novel raunchiness though, not much else is that interesting or note-worthy. You can tell how the story is going to play out beat-by-beat, with hackneyed break-up/make-up sections and other screenwriting 101 plot points. If you can get over those though, you should be pretty fine. The concept though, of food learning what it’s true purpose is, it’s interesting enough that it sold me on the film. The food’s have their little districts; the spices and curry are mocked up to be an Indian Market, the Alcohol Aisle is a rave, the Frozen Food section is a snowy mountain, it’s all cute and imaginative until juice-boxes are getting sexually assaulted and baby carrots are being eaten alive, then you remember the film is rated 15.

In the end, I’m conflicted by Sausage Party. It’s jokes got stale after a while and the story is by-the-books, but the concept and the over-the-top final twenty minutes means that it’s score moves up. Overall it doesn’t deserve to be on the Must-Watch list, but for those few jaw-dropping moments, everyone should watch this one.

Score: 7/10 Absolutely bonkers, with a small streak of smarts.

Trainwreck Review

Judd Apatow is said to be one of the best comedy directors around today. With several films such as Knocked Up, The 40 Year Old Virgin and Funny People under his belt, it seems like he is consistently creating funnier and funnier films. Can Trainwreck follow these earlier hits?

Trainwreck stars Amy Schumer, Bill Hader, Colin Quinn, LeBron James and John Cena and is directed by Judd Apatow. The film follows Amy (Schumer), who after being told by her dad (Quinn) as a young girl that monogamy isn’t realistic, lives her life as a series of sexual flings. But soon, a young doctor (Hader) appears in her life, and Amy starts to think is her single life as good as it seems?

The cast and acting is phenomenal. Amy Schumer is looking to be the next biggest hit in comedy, and Trainwreck cements her new role as one of the funniest female comics today. Her chemistry with Bill Hader as Aaron seems very real, and they bounce well off each other. John Cena turns in a very respectable performance, actually having some character rather than just being a set of pectorals and abs. The only weak performances are given by LeBron James (playing himself), which is very one-note and wooden and an almost unrecognizable Tilda Swinton who is Amy’s boss. She has a very plummy British accent which seems rather annoying and most of her jokes and lines are just not funny.

The jokes come at a rapid pace, from the very first scene to the last. The first scene in particular, where a young Amy and her sister are being told by their dad “monogamy isn’t realistic” is a brilliant scene, full of child interpretations of cheating on your spouse. A recurring joke about a black and white film called The Dog Walker featuring Daniel Radcliffe and Marisa Tomei is funny as it is a brutal satire on the more “art house” and Sundance style of filmmaking. There is also a nice little nod to Woody Allen’s Manhattan halfway throughout the film, with a funny sexual pun at the end. The script shows that Schumer is a brilliant writer and she has a knack for creating jokes when you least expect it, making them even funnier. However, there are quite a few jokes that don’t work or just feel really off kilter. An extended joke about Cleveland, Ohio, which probably doesn’t make much sense for audiences outside of the US, is pretty dire, but that’s not even the worst part. Racism, homophobia and ethnic slurs are used, mostly by Colin Quinn as Amy’s father, but they are not used to subvert the stereotypes used. The scenes are just long enough for it to start feeling just a bit too awkward before the script jumps back to a less offensive character.

The film also references several current events and cultural events, which might seem fine now but after a few years the film will seem incredibly dated. Game Of Thrones’ Red Wedding (which was two years ago at time of writing) a child talking about Minecraft and the several cameos of famous sport stars, they all feel like they’re going to be obsolete conversations and people in the future, and some just feel tacked on just for the sake of naming them in the film.

Along with Tilda Swinton’s boring character and the off-colour jokes, the other problem I have with the film is not diverting from the Classic Hollywood Narrative. The CHN (as it’s known within the industry) is a very clichéd plot sequence that everyone has probably seen a thousand times i.e. boy meets girl, boy and girl fall in love, boy and girl argue and break up, they both look out windows while soft music plays in the background and finally reconcile and get back together. It’s the film that Matthew McConaughey has made several hundred times under different names. Trainwreck doesn’t deviate from this plan at all, even doing the clichéd montage of the person getting their life in order at the end of the film. It’s only the script that makes the film stand apart from its shackles of a cookie cutter story, but that’s all it needs to create a big enough wave in the comedy genre.

In conclusion, Trainwreck is one of the funniest films I have seen in the cinemas in a long time. Laughing at least ten times before the main titles had even flashed up on the screen, it’s a brilliant new take from a excellent new female voice, a role which until recently only seemed to be filled by Melissa McCarthy. Give this film your time, you won’t regret it.

Score: 9/10 One of the best comedies of 2015.