Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.5
USA/Canada, 2016. Annapurna Pictures, Columbia Pictures, Nitrogen Studios Canada, Point Grey Pictures. Story by Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg, Jonah Hill, Screenplay by Kyle Hunter, Ariel Shaffir, Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg. Produced by Megan Ellison, Evan Goldberg, Seth Rogen, Conrad Vernon. Music by Christopher Lennertz, Alan Menken. Production Design by Kyle McQueen. Film Editing by Kevin Pavlovic. Las Vegas Film Critics Awards 2016. North Carolina Film Critics Awards 2016. Washington Film Critics Awards 2016.
We’ve seen Pixar give anthropomorphic life to toys, rats, fish, cars and even emotions, so why not give personalities to groceries before Pixar catches on. Seth Rogen and his merry band of foul-mouthed, perpetually high chums have come up with a parody of popular animated films whose visual style is as adorable as the kid-friendly movies ruling the box office, but whose characters are definitely not for children’s consumption. Inside a sunny, happy supermarket, wide-eyed, optimistic foods believe that the only goal worth attaining is to be chosen by one of the many humans who populate their aisles and place them in their shopping baskets. As far as they know, being chosen means they are taken to the Great Beyond where eternal paradise awaits, but Frank (Rogen), one of a group of sausages happily awaiting this fate, is particularly hoping to be chosen at the same time as a nearby package of buns because it means he can slip his obvious double entendre into his long-distance girlfriend Brenda (Kristen Wiig). Happily, the blessed event does occur, but a cynical jar of mustard’s suicide off a shopping cart sabotages the operation and leaves these two heroes and a number of their friends dropped and abandoned on the store floor. In their effort to put things right and make it to the Great Beyond, they must first survive some pretty harrowing experiences, among the funniest of them a druggie (voiced by James Franco) who takes bath salts and can hear his food talking to him, Edward Norton doing a spot-on Woody Allen impersonation as a bagel, and an amorous taco named Teresa (Salma Hayek) who has her sights set on our leading lady. The breakthrough moment comes when the wisdom of a bottle of a whiskey (voiced by Bill Hader) reveals to Frank the truth about what really happens in the Great Beyond, which Frank then tries to warn his friends about but to no avail; this is the closest that the film gets to having a message (pro Climate Change? Anti-religion? Take your pick), which thankfully is brief and followed by an orgy. Despite the fact that it threatens to be as tiring a one-joke premise as This Is The End was, this outrageous comedy actually has plenty of genuinely funny jokes and enough creative turns of the plot to keep you rolling along, and no matter how desensitized you think you are to explicit content on screen, it really is shocking to see all these edible treats drop so many F-bombs and then get up to such incredibly dirty business at the end (it’ll work great as an appetite suppressant if you’re having trouble controlling yourself with any of these foods, as you won’t want to touch them after you know where they’ve been). While most of Rogen’s comedies play as inside jokes to only his brand of bros, this one manages to have wider appeal despite never seeming like it ever means to.