Film and drama

Screen Themes: Sausage Party vs South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut

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It’s time for some adult animation as entertainment editor John Turnbull checks out the decidedly not appropriate for children Sausage Party and the surprising musical South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut.

Sausage Party (2016) directed by Greg Tiernan & Conrad Vernon

Set in a supermarket and starring a cast of anthromorphic foodstuffs, Sausage Party is equal parts road trip, romantic comedy, action movie and think piece. While the last part might seem slightly hard to believe for a movie where sausages are clear analogues for penises, bear with me …

Starring Seth Rogen as upbeat frankfurter Frank, Kristen Wiig as his love interest Brenda (a bun), Michael Cera as stunted sausage Barry and James Franco as a drug-addled human, Sausage Party bears many similarities to other films from this group including Pineapple Express, This is the End and The interview. If you enjoyed any of the aforementioned films there is a good chance that you’ll like Sausage Party … but there’s a little more to this movie than you might expect.

The premise of the film is that Frank and his supermarket compatriots dream every day about being purchased and taken out into the great beyond, a paradise where they will live happily ever after and have copious cross-category sex. While the majority of supermarket denizens believe this fabrication, a few of the non-perishable products know the horrible truth …

The brilliance of Sausage Party lies not in the endless dick jokes, but rather the amount of social commentary and religious allegory that Rogen and his screenwriting team have managed to pack in to the movie. The kosher food doesn’t get on with their halal neighbours, while the sauerkraut undertakes frequent raids in an attempt to wipe out the juice (think about it).

The scene where Frank and Brenda try to escape an out of control trolley evoke Saving Private Ryan, while the massacre in the kitchen is equal parts hilarious and horrifying. There is also an orgy involving many different types of food and sex acts that may or may not have names. If this sounds like your cup of tea, you might need to take a long hard look at yourself …

South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut (1999) directed by Trey Parker

Made only two years after South Park started running on Comedy Central, the initial appeal of Bigger, Longer & Uncut was the fact that Stan, Kyle Cartman and Kenny were allowed to swear. And swear they do, with a total of 146 uses of the word “fuck”. While this was a big deal at the time, the figure was blown out of the water by 2013’s Wolf of Wall Street with a total of 569 fucks, which may be considered excessive by some people.

Originally titled ‘South Park Goes to Hell’ and changed to a dick joke so as not to offend American religious nuts, Bigger Longer & Uncut tells the story of the war between the USA and Canada, sparked by the ultra-offensive Canadian movie Terrance & Philip – Asses of Fire. Full of searing, violence and fart jokes, the movie within a movie provokes a parental backlash led by Sheila Broflovski, better known as Kyle’s mom. Note that I use the ‘murcan spelling of this word deliberately — Cartman’s performance of ‘Kyle’s Mom is a Big Fat Bitch’ is one of the highlights of the movie.

Once you get past the childish joy of animated kids swearing excessively, it is really the songs that keep Bigger, Longer & Uncut moving. After the film-school project Cannibal: The Musical, South Park creators Parker and Stone were no strangers to the musical genre. Despite this experience, it is somewhat remarkable how catchy many of the songs from Bigger, Longer and Uncut really are, particularly the Terrance & Philip theme song: Uncle Fucka.

When I saw this movie at the cinema, I remember thinking that the first 30 minutes was one of the funniest things that I had ever seen, but the movie sort of went off the rails after that. Seventeen years and one fresh viewing later my opinion has not changed. The sub plot of Satan and Saddam Hussein planning to take over the world is flat and frequently homophobic, while the scenes of war and destruction drag on way too long with little payoff.

Struggling to fill a run time of 81 minutes, Bigger, Longer & Uncut is like an extended TV episode. While this may not be a bad thing for many people, the timely nature of South Park’s satire means that a lot of the jokes fall flat 17 years later.

The Verdict

Animated movies for adults are far from a new idea. From 1972’s subversive Fritz The Cat, 1981’s drug induced Heavy Metal and the 2015 masterpiece Anomalisa, there is a huge amount of variety within the genre. Taking this into account, Sausage Party and Bigger, Longer & Uncut are definitely cut from the same filthy cloth.

At the end of the day, Bigger, Longer & Uncut is like a good extended episode of the series, particularly in more recent seasons where they’ve relaxed their attitude to swearing on TV. By comparison, Sausage Party is a genuine big screen experience, taking advantage of the medium with a couple of spectacular set-pieces and social commentary that will actually make you think.

Sausage Party — 8/10

South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut — 6/10

Like what you read? John Turnbull''s books are now available on Amazon and Kindle. For about the price of a cup of coffee you can take a journey deep into the disturbed psyche behind columns including Screen Themes, Think For Yourself, New Music Through Old Ears and JT on NXT. There’s supernatural thriller Damnation’s Flame, action/romance Reaper, black comedy City Boy and travel guidebook Bar Trek: Europe. Check them out!

You can also follow John on Twitter @blackmagicjohn.

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