Movie reviews: Sausage Party, Café Society, A Date for Mad Mary

Sausage Party 4/5
Café Society 4/5
A Date for Mad Mary 4/5

 

FOOD, inglorious food — Sausage Party (16s) is an animated movie of such deranged lunacy that you will never look at your dinner plate the same way again.

With the 4th of July Independence Day festivities just around the corner, Frank the Sausage (voiced by Seth Rogen) and Brenda the Bun (Kirsten Wiig) are eagerly anticipating moving on from their supermarket shelf to the heavenly paradise of the Great Beyond. 

But when a jar of mustard returns to their shelf with horror stories of what awaits the foodstuffs once the human ‘gods’ take them home, Frank and Brenda embark on a quest to discover the truth about their existence.

Directed by Greg Teirnan and Conrad Vernon, from a story by Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill and Evan Goldberg, Sausage Party is on one level an exploration into faith, belief and paradise lost.

It’s also a raunchy tale of sex-obsessed sausages, a lesbian taco (Selma Hayek) and a Native American mystic in the shape of a bottle of Firewater (Bill Hader), with the added bonus of a cameo from a singing meatloaf that strongly resembles — naturally — Meatloaf.

Those of a delicate disposition may want to avoid this one: the tale delivers a foul-mouthed, scatological broadside against political correctness that is at times jaw-droppingly outrageous. 

The gags, puns and slapstick comes thick and fast, while the scenario is outlandishly surreal and frequently very funny.

Its relentless irreverence means Sausage Party may well stick in the craw of some, but for the most part it’s one of funniest and most subversive movies you’ll see this year.

Woody Allen’s latest offering, Café Society (12A), stars Jesse Eisenberg as Bobby Dorfman, a naïve young man from the Bronx who arrives in 1930’s Hollywood with ambitions to succeed in the movie industry.

Employed by his uncle, agent to the stars Phil Stern (Steve Carell), Bobby gets the guided tour of Los Angeles by Phil’s secretary Vonnie (Kristen Stewart) — which is when Bobby inadvertently walks into a love triangle he doesn’t even know exists.

Allen’s films have been rather hit-and-miss over the last decade — for every Blue Jasmine there’s been a To Rome With Love — but Café Society is a sweetly seductive homage to the Golden Age of Hollywood.

The style is deliberately arch (Bobby’s dialogue in particular is awkwardly stilted as he seeks to impress those he considers his betters) and the Hollywood settings are given an overtly stylised flourish as Allen harks back to a gentler, more fabulous time and place — all of which is romanticised hogwash, of course, as Allen’s own voiceover confirms as it regularly punctures the grandiose pretentions of all involved.

Jesse Eisenberg is in good form here as Allen’s avatar, all nebbish self-consciousness and bitter asides, and Kristen Stewart makes for a terrific foil as Vonnie gradually moves from cynical observer of Hollywood’s foibles to its most trenchant cheerleader.

It’s not quite vintage Woody Allen, but Café Society succeeds as a charming, bittersweet tale of unrequited love.

A Date for Mad Mary (15A) opens with ‘Mad’ Mary McArdle (Seána Kerslake) being released from prison and making her way home to Drogheda.

Pencilled in as maid of honour for her childhood friend Charlene’s (Charleigh Bailey) wedding, Mary is shocked to discover that Charlene presumes Mary won’t be bringing a plus one to the big day.

Determined to prove Charlene and the rest of the world wrong, Mary sets out to nab herself a man …

Directed by Darren Thornton from a script he co-wrote with Colin Thornton, A Date for Mad Mary opens with a fairly conventional rom-com scenario, although there’s very little that’s conventional about its main protagonist: abrasive and uncompromising, determined to live her life on her own terms, Mary is the very antithesis of Hollywood’s idea of a rom-com character.

Seána Kerslake is absolutely superb in the lead role, her nuanced performance inviting the viewer to celebrate the fragile personality Mary protects by creating a loudmouth, harsh persona — unapologetically defiant, Mary is a rebel without a cause until she meets an unlikely kindred spirit in wedding videographer Jess (Tara Lee).

Brilliantly written (despite the overall tone of downbeat realism, the black humour is frequently laugh-out-loud funny) and directed with a nervelessly unsentimental eye, A Date for Mad Mary is a terrific feature-length debut for Darren Thornton that announces the arrival of a major talent in Seána Kerslake.


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