Photo Credit: The Guardian
I recently saw War Dogs. Not entirely unexpectedly it didn't live up to its trailer - a 'hilarious' true-life story of how two stoners won a $300 million arms deal from the Pentagon. Directed by Todd Phillips of The Hangover Trilogy I was a little trepidatious going in given that I'm not really a fan of Philips' aforementioned work #sorrynotsorry but I was entirely prepared to be won over (as I was with Adam McKay's transition from the entertaining Anchorman to the excellent The Big Short). Sadly War Dogs is an uneasy watch, never really deciding if it wants to be a comedy or a drama, and unfortunately failing by being neither. Despite Miles Teller being spectacular in the equally spectacular Whiplash, in War Dogs, Teller is super weak as the 'everyday
Jew Joe' who innocently falls into a multimillion dollar lifestyle on the fringe of legality. Nonetheless, I came away from the cinema truly impressed with the performance given by Jonah Hill who, throughout the film behaves like an utter cunt, but is somehow still the best part of a movie which was thankfully 'only' 114 minutes long, even though I'll confess, it felt much longer.
I've always been part of the Jonah Hill Appreciation Fan Club. I have a thing for schlubby actors with Jew-fro's; they just look like they they know how to have a good time (which works for me as I haven't worked out since June and as I write this it's 3pm and I'm still in my pyjamas). So, after watching War Dogs I spent the majority of the rest of the bank holiday in a Jonah Hill Fest state of bliss, consuming Wolf of Wall Street where Hill is absolutely mesmerising as Danny Azoff; Superbad - which is the stuff that comedies should be made of. And I watched Moneyball for the first time and was blown away because it's excellent; and I was so surprised and a little bit ashamed I'd never watched it before. I'm so glad Hill was Oscar nominated for his part, even if he did lose to Christian Bale in The Fighter (I haven't seen The Fighter but my husband says Bale deserved it so I'll concede as apparently it's 1954 in our household). We wrapped up our weekend with 21 Jump Street which still makes me literally lol even though I've seen it more times than I'll admit to (Hill and Tatum, c'mon), and Hail Cesar! - and then we found this Reebok advert which made me love him even more.
And then last week I finally watched Sausage Party. I had fairly average hopes from a trailer that looked kinda predictably silly but entertaining enough; I'd hoped it would be better than This is the End too, given that Kristen Wiig was in it and she can always make me smile. So I watched; and sadly I just didn't get it. I sound like my mother (not that I'd ever want my mother to watch this film) but it was bad. It was lazy; there's too much swearing; and it's just...weird. There's a literal food orgy that I just didn't get as it was way too odd and sexual - were people meant to go home and jack off to hotdog buns and horny tacos?! I'd also read the props it'd got because it pokes fun at religion, but it's so sloppy and in-your-face it felts super-smug and I'm bemused it's been credited for being gag-filled as it was more gag-inducing (I'm thinking of the male anal douching).
But my biggest issue around Sausage Party though was its treatment of women. They're objectified and the female food characters are overtly sexualised in a way that the dude characters aren't - even though the lead sausage Frank is as phallic as they come. Unlike This is the End where women are few and far between (but at least Rhianna whacks Michael Cera when she smacks her ass just because it's there), Sausage Party feels like it's unconsciously making a constant nasty joke against women. For the start, the objective of Frank the sausage, is to fill Brenda the bun. I know I knew this going into the movie so I guess I don't know what I was expecting, but there are so many jokes about filling Brenda's hole, and ripping her in two, that is becomes really unnecessarily graphic. Also, the fact that her mouth is literally like a vagina whereas all the men's faces are cartoonish and look like, well, faces - Brenda is a glorified hole with eyes (don't believe me - check out the merch). Also, Brenda aside, the real-life women in the movie are all animated to be tits, widespread legs and ass. Told from the POV of the food on the shelves, the camera angles are always upward crotch-shots and under-boob, and as a woman, I felt uncomfortable watching. I don't know if it was meant to be controversial, like, how you can get away with vulgar material because it's animation - but it left me feeling uneasy, not least because I was sat in a cinema with a vast majority howling with laughter, and all I could think is 'why are you okay with this?!'
As a woman I think it's dangerous when female characters are objectified and treated as sex-objects within movies. In Sausage Party women are sluts, whores, bitches. And it's not just what the men call them, it's what they call each other. There are literally no nice scenes between the female characters; the buns literally engage in a bun fight because of an upset that threatens their belief their life's objective is to be filled with any kind of filling. Even when Teresa Taco befriends Brenda and it appears the women are going to help each other, but after a few scenes we learn that nope, Teresa just wants to fuck Brenda too. It upsets me to think that this movie will reinforce movie-goers that women are nothing more than holes waiting to be filled. That their worth is only on attractiveness; there is another scene where a deformed lady-bun is the only bun nobody wants to have sex with in the food-orgy and she is bereft - until - a deformed weiner saves the day and makes her so happy by screwing her. What the hell kind of message is that? I guess one, in a world, even an animated one with singing jars of pickles and radishes, where a woman's only worth is by having a guy want to have sex with her. And I'm just not down with that.
In a world where Casting Call Woe regularly posts depressing audition briefs - last month I saw one that read Attractive, yet looks like she's sadly past her prime: Aged 28-40 - women have never treated more badly. With films like The Other Woman, a movie I watched for the most part believing it had to be satire and feeling utterly despondent when I knew it actually thought it was some sort of sparky revenge empowering film for women. It wasn't. It upsets me most that in a media where women take up only 17% of screens (despite making up more than 50% of the population) that Sausage Party is worse than most in its portrayal of its female characters. Because if women are going to take up so little time on the screen it's essential that when they do - they actually have something to fucking say, instead of just being there to be fucked.