Here’s the thing that bugs me, a person who consumes film voraciously, about everyone saying that Sausage Party is the film that finally shows that animation can be “for adults”…
… there’s already plenty of animation that does that. There have been films that have been doing that for decades. And it’s animation that’s actually about mature, important subject matter rather than an endless stream of base-level vulgarity, racism, and homophobia poorly justified by a half-assed theological metaphor.
So, just because I’m sick and tired of hearing that “animation for adults” thing in regards to Sausage Party, here are 5 of my favorite films that actually carry that mantle well and skillfully use animation to deal with serious subjects:
1. Fantastic Planet (1973, dir. René Laloux): Uses animation to create a surreal science fiction allegory as political commentary speaking out against warfare and violence
2. The Plague Dogs (1982, dir. Martin Rosen): Uses animation to condemn animal cruelty via harmful testing procedures
3. Waltz With Bashir (2008, dir. Ari Folman): Uses animation as a means to reconstruct repressed memories in the aftermath of trauma
4. It’s Such a Beautiful Day (2012, dir. Don Hertzfeldt): Uses animation to deal with failing memory and coming to terms with one’s own mortality
5. Anomalisa (2015, dir. Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson): Uses animation to portray unhealthy projections of idealism onto others and feelings of malaise that hinder our perceptions of how we see the world and those around us
So yeah. There are definitely a lot more, but these are the ones that I think speak volumes to how mature and thoughtful animated films aimed at adults can truly be. Here’s to “animation for adults” being more like these films and less like Sausage Party.
MORE Adult Animated Films You Can Watch Instead of Sausage Party
Waltz With Bashir:An Israeli animated autobiographical war-documentary film about director Ari Folman attempting to recover repressed memories from his time as a soldier in the Lebanon War of 1982. This is a very dark film that explores many heavy themes throughout. It was actually quite controversial in some Arabian countries, being officially banned in Lebanon.
Persepolis:It's about a young girl growing up in the middle of the 1979 Iranian revolution and the political conflicts and government corruption she dealt with at that time, covering mostly the first 20 years of her life. This film was controversial too, with Iranian government only allowing a limited release and Bangkok's International Film Festival dropping it completely, as well as being protested against after an airing on a Tunisian television network, and being completely banned in Lebanon.
Mary and Max:A stop motion film about two strangers, an adult with Asperger's Syndrome and a little girl who lives in an abusive environment, who one day become pen-pals. It's actually a very profound film that deals with themes such as friendship, isolation, abuse, suicide, mental illness, and more. The film has many heavy moments as well as many light-hearted and funny ones, having just as much drama as it has comedy.
Strange Frame, Love and Sax:A 2012 cutout animated science-fiction musical film starring Tara Strong and Claudia Black, about a lesbian couple from another planet who fall in love after meeting each other while escaping a riot and form a band with an ultimate goal of worldwide fame, but are eventually split apart. Many of the characters in this movie are LGBTQA+, and all of them are of color.
A Scanner Darkly:An American animated sci-fi thriller film about a future where America lost the war on drugs and everyone is under constant police surveillance, directed by Richard Linklater and starring Robert Downey Jr., Keanu Reeves, and Winona Ryder, based on Phillip K. Dick's novel of the same name.
Waking Life:Also directed by Richard Linklater, an American animated drama documentary about a guy who constantly finds himself placed in various dream-like realities, most of which have people who have conversations with him about philosophical topics questioning the nature of reality and existence itself.
Wrinkles/Arrugas:A Spanish animated drama film about a retired bank manager suffering from Alzheimer's who is taken into an assisted living home and makes a new friend, who together try to disguise Emilio's worsening illness from doctors so that they don't transfer him to the top floor.
Princess:A Dutch drama film about a missionary named Augustus whose sister, a former porn star named 'Princess', leaves behind her daughter after she dies of a drug overdose. Augustus adopts her daughter and embarks on a violent mission to destroy all existing evidence of Princess's career. Probably the most explicit one of all of these films, not for the faint of heart due to it's themes and graphic nature.
Fantastic Planet:French stop-motion film about a group of aliens who get captured and kept as pets by another, more spiritually/technologically advanced species of aliens, but organize a mass rebellion after one of the aliens from the advanced planet educates the other spieces, which is forbidden. This film contains very surreal, psychedelic imagery that's similar to Classic Sesame Street, The Electric Company, and Yellow Submarine.