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Sausage Party review – Seth Rogen’s surprisingly tasty supermarket sweep

Thorough world-building Brenda (Kristen Wiig), Frank (Seth Rogen), Sammy (Ed Norton) and Lavash (David Krumholtz) in Sausage Party.

Talk about fresh. Seth Rogen s naughty food cartoon Sausage Party is, like much of his best work, deceptive packaging. The script he and his usual collaborator Evan Goldberg have written (in conjunction with Kyle Hunter and Ariel Shaffir) seems, at first, to trade solely on anthropomorphised food using profanity on supermarket shelves. This is mildly amusing at first but, like a bun out of its Cellophane, threatens to go stale. That s when a jar of honey mustard gets returned.

Related: Welcome to the sausage party! Why we’re about to see a new golden age of rude cartoons1

The supermarket is what Erving Goffman might call a total institution. Its occupants (food from around the world) are kept compliant by an unprovable belief system. If they are good and obey the gods, they will one day be chosen and taken to the Great Beyond (outside the gleaming automated doors in a cart.) But they will only get picked if they remain pure of spirit; the unfresh get tossed into a dusty bin by a sadist tormentor (actually just a teen bored with his job.) This fear prevents sausages and buns from getting intimate, despite their urges to conjoin. This is all preposterous, but stick with it; it s just the tip of surprisingly thorough world-building in this quite-clever comedy. Our lead sausage Frank (voiced by Rogen) is upbeat, cheery and randy for his shelfmate Brenda (Kristen Wiig), a bun who returns his affection. All is well at the store, with the happy food singing songs of praise to the gods who will one day scoop them up. (Unlike Toy Story, where humans are never around to catch the living toys, humans just can t see the true reality.) But when that shellshocked honey mustard (Danny McBride) returns with stories of the gods actually being bloodthirsty monsters, things start to change. The first of a number of extraordinary set-pieces comes when our heroes end up selected (yay!), but an overturned cart leads to chaos. A punctured bag of white flour provides a 9/11-esque cloud. There is a shocking amount of proper, terrorising fear during this and subsequent scenes. There has to be for the comedy to work. I d personally be OK allowing children to see the goofy prurience in this film, but it s the horrific imagery (some of which apes Saving Private Ryan) that might freak a kid out.

Sausage Party trailer: Seth Rogan and Kristen Wiig in adult cartoon comedy2 Warning: this video contains strong language

Disrupted, Frank and Brenda must get back to their aisle in the hopes of repackaging themselves without getting tossed. On their march they are joined by a Jewish bagel (Edward Norton doing the most over-the-top Woody Allen impersonation since Rick Moranis) and an Arabic lavash (David Krumholtz) whose belief in the Great Beyond includes being doused in 77 bottles of virgin olive oil. The pair bicker ( You ve even occupied the West Bank of the aisle! ), and as the foursome make tracks, they discover they are being hunted by an angry vaginal douche. The douche, sleazily voiced by Nick Kroll, is a play on steroid-jacked Italian-Americans. (Yes, there s a scene where he gets juiced. ) Racial stereotypes await on every aisle, which will undoubtedly be a third rail for some viewers. My attitude is that if you want to play in that sandbox, you have to be sure to insult everyone and, more importantly, make sure the jokes work. Sausage Party features an adorable potato (with googly eyes all over its body!) happily singing Danny Boy, then, just before a surprise peeling, shouting, Jaysus Fook! I dunno there are some things in this world that are beautiful. There s a lot that s goofy in Sausage Party, like when a doper on bath salts can suddenly see and hear the living food in his house, and a Stephen Hawking-inspired piece of chewed-up bubblegum, but there is (I swear) a richer message, too. This is a pro-reason, pro-knowledge story that is vehemently against the corruption found in organised religion, but not in a paint-the-word- atheist -across-your-chest-like-Ricky Gervais3 kind of way. In fact, if there s any message in the movie, it s that even if you think someone else is being dumb, you aren t going to win them over by rubbing their noses in their stupidity. Something to consider right now as we get closer to an election where one candidate s supporters seem too stupid to tie their own shoes.

And another message: everyone would probably be happier if they were screwing. Sausage Party is a movie with an extended climax, and before the final ending there s an already much discussed food orgy that, no joke, is something you need to see to believe. The whole thing is so tasty, you may just want seconds.

References

  1. ^ Welcome to the sausage party! Why we’re about to see a new golden age of rude cartoons (www.theguardian.com)
  2. ^ Sausage Party trailer: Seth Rogan and Kristen Wiig in adult cartoon comedy (www.theguardian.com)
  3. ^ paint-the-word- atheist -across-your-chest-like-Ricky Gervais (images.huffingtonpost.com)

Suicide Squad review: ‘I’ve seen more bad-ass bad guys in Toy Story’

Suicide Squad was marketed as a real bad-ass movie – a sort of updated version of the 1967 war film The Dirty Dozen where Lee Marvin puts together the toughest and most dangerous group of villains to go on a suicide mission. But rather than assassinating a group of top Nazi officers, the Suicide Squad are put together by government agent Amanda Waller (Viola Davis, The Help) to defend the earth from any intergalactic threat, therefore taking the place of a missing Superman. The potential deadly team are let out of their maximum security prison and promised a reduced sentence for agreeing to work for the government.

Waller gives the job of babysitter to America s top soldier, Colonel Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman the new Robocop), who keeps the squad in line and has a bodyguard of his own in samurai Katana (Karen Fukuhara). For each squad member we get a backstory: Deadshot (Will Smith), the world s most highly paid assassin who never misses his target; Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), who was The Joker s (Jared Leto) psychiatrist at Arkham Asylum until she fell in love with him and went unhinged; Captain Boomerang, (Jai Courtney) an Australian bank robber; Diablo (Jay Hernandez), a repentant human torch with a tattooed face and Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), a scaly thing . There is also a witch called The Enchantress who inhabits the body of a certain Dr June Moone (both played by English former model Cara Delevingne). Dr Moone is also the girlfriend of Rick Flag. The Enchantress is controlled by Agent Amanda Waller who keeps the witch s heart in a box.

Somehow the Enchantress is let loose and fires the essence of her brother into an unsuspecting human turning him into an Egyptian looking giant God shooting lava like fire strands into the city. This is the chance to set the Suicide Squad on their first and maybe last mission. Now we get to see the Suicide Squad in action.

But unfortunately it s all very much style over substance. That s to say it looks very good but the action is reduced to some long shoot em up sequences which become tedious. The Joker is crowbarred into the movie and has nothing to do with the Suicide Squad except for the fact that he has a perverse love affair with Harley Quinn. He is not featured nearly enough as the trailers would lead you to believe.

Also Jared Leto had much to live up to, following Jack Nicholson and of course Heath Ledger. Leto s version is more crazy unpredictable sociopath with no proper game plan. Oh, and look out for a couple of super hero cameos. In 3D, only the brilliant opening and closing credit effects came out at me through the screen.

Most characters were expendable, with the exception of Will Smith s Deadshot. Will Smith always plays Will Smith but that s why we love him and he never disappoints.

Suicide Squad Review: 'I've Seen More Bad-ass Bad Guys In Toy Story'

Suicide Squad Review: 'I've Seen More Bad-ass Bad Guys In Toy Story'

Diary of a Madman at Edinburgh festival review – a tragic clown meets modernity

Guy Clark and Liam Brennan as Matt White and Pop Sheeran in Diary of a Madman at the Traverse, Edinburgh. Photograph: Iona Firouzabadi

Related: Edinburgh festival planner: three shows to see today1

In Nikolai Gogol2 s short story Diary of a Madman, Poprishchin is a lowly Russian civil servant driven mad by his lack of status and his confusion at a changing world. In Al Smith s play, he has become Pop Sheeran, whose family trade is painting the Forth Bridge3. It takes a year, and as soon as he finishes he has to start over again. The future is rushing towards Pop faster than the 7.05 express and his instability is starting to show.

The marauding English have arrived in the shape of Matt White (geddit?), the Harrow-educated son of a knight who Pop thinks has designs on his daughter, Sophie. Meanwhile, a Qatari company has bought the bridge and is insisting that Pop uses a new kind of paint. With the future uncertain and his identity under threat, Pop retreats into fantasies of Scotland s glorious past, fuelled by the dialogue he has with a soft-toy replica of the Skye terrier Greyfriars Bobby4.

Diary Of A Madman At Edinburgh Festival Review – A Tragic Clown Meets Modernity Deborah Arnott (Mavra Sheeran) and Liam Brennan. Photograph: Iona Firouzabadi

There s plenty of meat in this exploration of globalisation and its impact on the daily lives of ordinary people blown hither and thither by the winds of change, but the play is way too baggy and while some of the writing is sharply funny, the production fails to balance the farcical and the tragic. It is well worth seeing, though, for Liam Brennan s tender performance as Pop, a tragic clown out of time and out of a job.

At the Traverse, Edinburgh5, to 28 August. Box office: 0131-228 1404.

References

  1. ^ Edinburgh festival planner: three shows to see today (www.theguardian.com)
  2. ^ Nikolai Gogol (www.theguardian.com)
  3. ^ Forth Bridge (www.theguardian.com)
  4. ^ Greyfriars Bobby (www.historic-uk.com)
  5. ^ the Traverse, Edinburgh (tickets.edfringe.com)
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