Given the success and enduring popularity of SOUTH PARK: BIGGER, LONGER & UNCUT, animated movies that play on the naughty end of the spectrum have been relatively few and far between. Not much springs to mind since 2007’s AQUA TEEN HUNGER FORCE COLON MOVIE FILM FOR THEATERS. The reason of course, is money - there’s a reluctance from backers to mix R-rated humour with the shiny happy worlds of CG when they can profit so much more from simply not doing it. But tell that to Megan Ellison (ZERO DARK THIRTY, HER, FOXCATCHER), whose Annapurna Pictures has helped deliver the sweary, blasphemous SAUSAGE PARTY into the world.

On a supermarket shelf somewhere in America, it’s July 3rd. All Frank (Seth Rogen) and the fellow hotdogs in his packet want is to be taken, along with his girlfriend Brenda (Kristen Wiig) and the other buns in her bag, to enjoy eternity in ‘the great beyond’ by one of the ‘gods’ – human shoppers. Every ingredient and item of produce in the store has their own interpretation of what happens once they get past the sliding doors, but each happily believes that they’re headed for some form of paradise, because that’s all they’ve ever been told – until Honey Mustard (Danny McBride) is returned as a mistaken purchase. Twitching with PTSD, he’s seen some shit. At first, Frank can’t believe the now suicidal Honey Mustard’s nightmarish whistleblowing, but soon doubt creeps in. When a shopping trolley mishap (a supremely funny homage to... well, figure it out for yourself) strands Frank, Brenda and a few other items on the other side of the store, the weiner begins an epic spiritual journey and a race to save his recently purchased friends... while an angry pre-packaged Douche (Nick Kroll) with revenge on its mind is in hot pursuit.

In case you hadn’t guessed by now, SAUSAGE PARTY is a contender for the most baked screenplay ever written. If a fourth HAROLD AND KUMAR movie were to be made and centred on their efforts to write and make a movie, this would be that movie.

It’s crude, grubby, and outrageous. It’s jam-packed (no pun intended) with brilliant/dreadful food puns. It’s also frequently hilarious, and – quite unusually for a comedy – it gets better as it progresses, building to a batshit crazy third act piled with more sex and violence than CALIGULA. It’s also not without ambition. Rogen and co-writer Evan Goldberg (together responsible for SUPERBAD), and their directors Greg Tiernan and Conrad Vernon are aiming for an elusive sweet spot: to be a clever film masquerading as a dumb one.

Unfortunately they don’t always nail it – too often good ideas, arguments and jokes are hamstrung by cheap, tired racial stereotypes and over-egged efforts to shock; having characters swear is a genuinely funny device, but trying to ram it into even the most incidental line comes off as trying way too hard.

It’s a shame because it’s nothing that couldn’t have been fixed with a little more drafting (and maybe a little less weed). Instead, amidst otherwise excellent execution these basic mistakes stand out, over-amplified in a movie with an honest case to make. By today's lofty standards the animation won't win any big awards, but the cast of mostly longtime friends (Michael Cera, David Krumholtz, Jonah Hill, Bill Hader, James Franco, Craig Robinson, Paul Rudd) with notable ring-ins Edward Norton and Salma Hayek, are on fine form.

SAUSAGE PARTY is released August 11 in Australia and NZ, August 12 in the US and September 2 in the UK.