Before the first minute is up, Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg's wondrous, animated satire Sausage Party hits viewers with more F words than some of us have heard in a lifetime.

It's a remarkably surreal experience - they come out of the mouths of cute cartoon characters. This clever, superbly sick-headed ruse is a baptism by fire that pummels you into submission for the mind-blowing ride to come.

A violent, sexy, crazy actioner about supermarket products that rebel against their human consumers, Sausage Party is one of the funniest and most deeply offensive movies of the year (it's obscenely funny), which lambastes America's most sacred of sacred cows: religion.

Cowritten by Rogen and Goldberg, Sausage Party is codirected by kids'-cartoon specialists Greg Tiernan (Thomas & Friends) and Conrad Vernon (the Madagascar franchise), who give the film a glowing, children's-book feel.

At first blush, the movie looks like a primer for preschoolers about the workings of a supermarket: The characters are sausages, buns, tequila bottles, bananas, lightbulbs with little arms and legs, itty-bitty eyes and noses.

They even have little white gloves - à la Mickey Mouse.

Any doubt we're dealing with adult material is gone as soon as the all-star voice cast chimes in. Rogen costars with Kristen Wiig, Bill Hader, Salma Hayek, Paul Rudd, Edward Norton, Jonah Hill, and Craig Robinson.

Sausage Party is another sort of primer, a Marxian study of religion as an opiate.

You see, the products at the market have been indoctrinated with rousing songs and rituals to believe that if they are virtuous - if the sausages stay away from the enticing buns and the bagels from the juicy lox - they'll be saved by the gods (we humans) and taken to the heavenly beyond outside the market doors.

Then one day, Frank the sausage (Rogen) and his gal, Brenda Bun (Wiig), learn the horrible truth, that the gods plan to torture, kill, and consume them!

Frank leads a violent revolt after persuading everyone to put aside their petty differences, including Sammy the bagel (Norton) and his nemesis, Lavash (David Krumholtz), whose shelf Sammy appropriated, claiming it's his true historic homeland.

Sausage Party pushes the envelope hard, with content that is so outrageous that the most libertarian libertine is liable to be offended at some point. It takes real commitment to go that far. You have to respect that.




Sausage Party

*** (Out of four stars)

  • Directed by Greg Tiernan and Conrad Vernon. With voices by Seth Rogen, Kristen Wiig, Jonah Hill, Edward Norton, Paul Rudd. Distributed by Columbia Pictures.

  • Running time: 1 hour, 39 mins.

  • Parent's guide: R (strong crude sexual content, profanity, drug use).

  • Playing at: Area theaters.