The food items, when they're not floundering in shallow prejudice or stressing over the "gods", get a lot of mileage out of the little things in life — sex, love, swearing, partying, and getting high as a kite. One interpretation is that the human condition, while uncertain and crude, is actually pretty awesome.
As Screen Rants pitch meeting showed; the gods are dead, so just indulge in mindless hedonism.
Sally, Barry's bun girlfriend, who shares his physical abnormality (in Sally's case, being smushed) that sets her apart from her peers. She also gains a shy and timid voice following her being smushed by Brenda.
Anvilicious: The arguments over the Great Beyond's existence or lack thereof are taken straight from the standard arguments between believers and atheists. To some, the film ultimately comes down on the "side" of vague agnosticism, to others on the anti-religious atheist side (see What Do You Mean, It's Not Political? below). Whatever the case, there is a message that if you want to challenge a belief system, you need to offer an appealing alternative, as summed up by Barry late in the movie:
Award Snub: We wouldn't exactly say that this is an award deserving movie per se but, more than a few fans were disappointed that the film didn't receive even a single nomination at the Academy Awards, citing "The Great Beyond" as a perfect potential nominee for Best Original Song.
Awesome Music: "The Great Beyond", which sounds exactly like a song from the Disney Renaissance (with added raunch, obviously). Not surprising, considering who wrote it.
The film being announced as the first R-rated CGI-animated feature was bad enough, but the release of the Red Band trailer further worsened the division. Opinions of it range from being a faithful Affectionate Parody of Disney/Pixar movies, to being a cold-blooded and hilarious skewering of those same films, to being a typical Seth Rogen film completely devoid of any funny moments.
The news of the Troubled Production and mistreatment of animators. For some people, those are enough to completely dismiss the movie all together, while for others, it's not much of big deal or even increases their appreciation for the film.
On a lighter note, some are split whether the ending was meant to be a legitimate Sequel Hook or is just another throwaway gag that shouldn't be taken seriously.
Critical Dissonance: Film critics seemed to mostly praise the film, awarding it a solid 83% "Certified Fresh" on Rotten Tomatoes, while overall audiences reception seems to be more in the polarizing camp. The backlash involving the terrible working conditions the film's animation studio inflicted on its animators only seemed to sour these sentiments further.
Crosses the Line Twice: It's safe to say that Sausage Party gleefully plays double dutch with every line it can find.
"They're eating children! FUCKING CHILDREN!"
When we meet the traumatized roll of toilet paper, the "corpse" (cardboard tube) of his predecessor is seen hanging on the bathroom handle behind him.
The best way to describe "The Great Beyond" is that it takes everything good and decent in the world and fries it, boils it, gouges its eyes out and tears its head in half all while being sung in a Musical Number akin to a film from The Renaissance Age of Animation.
Barry complimenting the squished hot dog bun on how her lopsided face "just gives up halfway through."
The climax (pun intended). More specifically, after the food defeat the evil humans, they have a massive orgy.
The scene where the Condom is lamenting on what he was used for shouldn't have been as hilarious as it was.
All of the ethnic stereotypes. All of them. Mostly because it's generally agreed that they never cross the line from good-natured ribbing to outright cruelty.
Death of the Author: While the film has indeed garnered flak over Greg Tiernan's poor treatment of the animators during production, this hasn't hindered its popularity with fans and certain viewers who are willing to look past it.
Designated Villain: The humans, who need to eat food to survive, but are nonetheless portrayed as being evil, monstrous murderers. Probably intentional, as the food characters clearly don't know that and the humans aren't actually portrayed as "evil" (except for Darren, but he's more of just a typical jerkass). According to Firewater, the reason that the humans kill food is because it makes them stronger.
Draco in Leather Pants: Douche gets this treatment a lot on Tumblr, with some seeing him as a sympathetic villain, others depicting him as a good-looking human, and others have him paired up with El Guaco and juicy box.
Invoked Trope. Once the foods find out the truth about the Great Beyond, you can't help but feel a bit bad for them when they sing about how the Great Beyond is a wonderful place in the beginning of the film.
A meta example, as well. The cheery "That's terrible work, you're fired" gag in Seth Rogen's Animation-Imaginatorium became a lot less funny when people realized the horrible working conditions the animators had been under.
The food are shown at Camille Toh's house realizing their true fate after seeing their food friends get murdered. Cut to three months after the movie was released, and a South Parkepisode contains a scene where Randy attempts to kill the member berries, who are a bunch of anthropomorphic grapes. This results in the rest of the member berries observing the murdering process from the kitchen counter and sneaking out at night to escape his house.
Considering the reports of how cruel co-director Greg Tiernan had been to most of the animators, it's hard not to imagine the catharsis they must feel when watching the potato he voices get his skin brutally peeled off, if not when they were animating it.
There was a Saturday TV Funhouse sketch on Saturday Night Live that parodied VeggieTales. It had a line saying that if you masturbated, you went to hell, showed several scenes of food murdering other food, and had a scene where a tomato is portrayed as having a harem of 70 virgins. Fast forward to this film, and there's a scene where Brenda worries that bad things are happening to her and Frank because they "touched tips", which could be seen as being equivalent to masturbation or dry humping, a product who murders other foods (Douche), and Lavash saying that in the Great Beyond, 70 bottles of extra virgin olive oil wait for him.
Douche shoving himself up Darren's butt is even more amusing now that Nick Kroll, Douche's voice actor, is playing Professor Poopypants in Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie. This is also hilarious because in the books, Professor Poopypants had robotic pants that he poked his head out of the zipper portion of in one point, which is also seen in the end credits sequence of the Captain Underpants movie during the part where it shows Nick Krolls name.
Here, Nick Kroll plays a sex-crazed douche that can't be seen by normal people. In Big Mouth, he'd play a sex-crazed monster that can't be seen by normal people. Not only that but he'd repurpose his voice for Douche, a narcissistic bully of a villain, for the character of Coach Steve, the single nicest character on that show. Similarly, Kristen Wiig, who plays a character who resembles a sentient vagina, would later appear on Kroll's show as an actual sentient vagina.
Four years before this movie was made came Padak, which has a similar premise but with fish at a sushi restaurant. Although very much darker and more serious about the situation of the protagonists.
Hype Backlash: Despite the acclaim the film has received from critics, many general audience members find the film to be overly raunchy and arguably less mature than many so-called "kids'" films from Disney and Pixar, despite being advertised as the first ever CGI-animated film for adults.
Inferred Holocaust: Just how many living, breathing food items were brutally carved up before the events of the film? And what is to become of the foods at the other supermarkets??
For that matter, what of the families and friends of the customers and staff that were killed by the rebellious food items? Or any other people that could end up killed if the foods in other stores do similar uprisings?
While drugging humans with bath salt would enable the grocery items to rebel against the humans, it would not guaranteed the success of said rebellion. Now imagine what would have happened to the surviving grocery items and humans if the latter had miraculously defeated the rebellion.
Honey Mustard. He might be full-of-himself, but he suffers from honest to god realistic portrayals of PTSD when he comes back from the "Great Beyond". Being Driven to Suicide definitely brings him even further into sympathy.
Even Darren to an extent. While he is a sleazy worker, did he really deserve to get blown up along with Douche and being sexually controlled by Douche?
Launcher of a Thousand Ships: Douche gets paired with most of the male characters in the film, particularly Frank, Barry, El Guaco, and the Juice Box.
Regarding the controversy over the animators' working conditions, the animators that spoke out stressed that their issues were strictly with the animation company, Nitrogen Studiosnote a non-union animation studio based out of Vancouver, Canada, and director Greg Tiernan, and had no complaints against writer-producers Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg or director Conrad Vernon. Despite this, many angry responses were directed against the film's crew as a unit (or, more egregiously, singled out Rogen), and the issue was often framed as a way of "vindicating" complaints about the content and morality of the film itself.
Moe: Barry, Sally, Twink, the baby carrots, and interestingly enough, Camille.
Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theaters was another adult animated film about anthropomorphic food (like the TV series it was based on) that was released nine years before Sausage Party. However, Sausage Party features a far more diverse variety of food characters; the Aqua Teen movie primarily featured three (albeit more if you count the intro with the movie theater snacks singing the advertisement jingle and Chicken Bittle, whom were all minor characters). Also, the Aqua Teen Hunger Force movie was based on a TV series and only had a limited release.
Back in the 80s an episode of Tales from the Darkside had a similar premise, although from a human perspective. A woman tries a weight-loss plan that gives her glasses and an earpiece that cause her to see faces on her food, and hear them talking to her. In that episode, however, it's not totally clear if this is actually happening, or if it's an illusion to discourage her from over-eating. The episode ends with the woman sewing her mouth shut and starving to death. Oddly, that episode ventured into Unbuilt Trope territory, and can actually come across as a Deconstruction of this movie, acknowledging that the food is basically screwed either way, and not eating it actually means a slow and painful death by rotting.
The leaked script left a sour taste in a lot of peoples mouths. Even when the movie turned out better than expected, the initial bad impression made a lot of people ignore the movie anyway.
The controversy of the mistreated animators would result in more people skipping the movie and judging it more harshly.
Overused Running Gag: Having cute looking food products swearing subverting the expectations of Dreamworks fans? Hilarious. Having these characters swearing every other word for the rest of the film? Not so much.
Periphery Demographic: Betcha never expected a raunchy, R-rated film about talking food would be so popular with women now, didja?
Protection from Editors: According to the filmmakers, they actually had full control over production, which was how they were able to get away with much of the film's risque content.
Rooting for the Empire: Since the villains of the story are the humans who are just eating the food to, you know, fulfill a very basic survival need, it's not hard to relate, and for some people, to side with them.
Signature Scene: The entire orgy scene between the lead gang and all the other foods is quickly reaching this status, with the scene where Camille slaughters the foods at her home not far behind.
So Okay, It's Average: Despite it's overall reception being much more positive-to-polarizing than had been expected, the consensus is that it's a perfectly serviceable raunchy comedy, but otherwise doesn't have much appeal beyond the novelty factor of basically just being a DreamWorks movie that's explicitly for adults.
Ugly Cute: Given the animation style and the fact that the characters are food items. Barry most especially.
Uncanny Valley: Owing to the film's modest budget, some of the facial features on the human character designs seem a little off. To say nothing of the anthropomorphic hot dog buns, who resemble blow-up dolls whose mouths go the wrong way.
Visual Effects of Awesome: Despite the above, the animation is surprisingly top-notch for something made on such a small budget, helped by the fact that one of the co-directors is a veteran of DreamWorks Animation.note Though if you really want to give credit where it's due, you can thank the poor animators who were forced to work overtime for no pay.
Those who first watched the Red Band trailer anticipated that it would be a children's movie since it involved anthropomorphic food and that it bore an uncanny resemblance to what you would see in a Disney, Pixar or DreamWorks film. Then, once the Irish potato dropped the F-bomb, said viewers thought, "What the hell is this?". One of the TV spots had to give a warning that the movie is rated R twice the first at the very beginning and the later ones even had to put a red stamp saying "Rated R" on the film's release date.
A trailer for the film was shown just before Finding Dory in one California theater. The theater apologized later on, explaining that Dory had not been scheduled in that auditorium until late due to unexpected demand, and they had forgotten to switch it out with an adult-oriented movie (and its trailers) playing earlier in the same auditorium. The theater stated that the Sausage Party trailer has never been scheduled with Dory; however, it has been speculated that the reason the error wasn't caught until it was too late was because the first trailer to play was for a bright, cheerful-looking animated picture.
And after the home release, several stores and streaming services have put a big red "Rated R" label on the movie's cover and advertising, less risking a parent bring this movie home for his little child.
Verizon Fios initially incorrectly labeled the movie as having a PG-13 rating. According to a Tumblr post, this also happened at one Regal Cinemas location in New York during the Columbus Day weekend re-release when a PG-13 MPAA rating card showed up before the movie started.note The PG-13 rating doesn't particularly mean a film is kid-friendly either, but this film definitely makes anything PG-13 rated you've seen look G-rated in comparison.
The movie is rated 11+ in Sweden, and 12+ in Norway and France.note In the cases of Sweden and Norway, this is actually because their rating systems don't have an official rating for adults, so they went for the next best thing... which unfortunately happened to be the preteen ratings.
Moral Guardians, aside from being horrified by the adult jokes and stereotypes, accused the film of promoting an anti-religious message, as it is a major plot point that the food are taught to believe humans would send them to "their destiny," which supposedly means food heaven, instead of being chopped and cooked for a human meal in reality. The food's "religion" is revealed to be a lie (akin to some hardline atheists views on religion), this idea is introduced by a Stephen Hawking expy (Hawking himself was an avowed atheist) whose knowledge of the food's "religion" is correct, and the foods go on to fight and kill some of their "gods" and the story treats it as a good thing. Many early reviewers who saw the rough cut at the SXSW festival did notfailto point this analogy out. While the film isn't explicitly pro-atheist, the film is a rather big indictment on when organized religion is rigid.
A large contingent of Tumblr saw the film as one long nose-thumbing against "political correctness", feminism and racial equality.
This of course comes into question when it turns out the only way humans can see Foods talking (and subsequently is key to how the Foods fight the humans) is if they're high on bath salts!
Woolseyism: In the Japanese dub, since douches aren't common in Japanese stores, Douche is renamed Bidet (a sink used for washing genitalia and buttocks).
The Woobie: Poor little Barry. He's a misshapen hotdog who's constantly bullied for his short stature, insecure over his feelings of inadequacy and perceived lack of desirability to the buns, witnesses his fellow foods being brutally slaughtered, and he gets thrown far out of his element in the humans' world. He grows out of being a woobie by taking several levels up in badassery and gets a happy ending ultimately.