Sausages and Friendship
“Gutterbee” is a character driven comedy about sausages and friendship. Set in small-town America, two hopeless dreamers who join forces to build the ultimate German sausage restaurant. Gutterbee is also a social satire about the connection between identity, religion, racism homophobia and intolerance.
Director Urich Thomsen uses comedy to make fun of everything that we should hate and fight against. Edward (Ewen Bremner) is a German newcomer to the failing town of Gutterbee. He is obsessed with sausage because of what it means to his family history. Not long after arriving, self-made cabaret impresario and ultra-conservative villain Jimmy Jerry Lee Jones Jr. (W. Earl Brown) who is desperate to “make Gutterbee great again” targets him. Just-released prisoner and Jones’ former employee Mike Dankworth McCoid (Antony Starr) is caught in the middle.
The film moves between tones and changes focus among the cast of characters. Edward is its strongest asset as an eccentric sausage zealot and his presence is missed whenever the spotlight is on something or someone else. There is a definite distinct filmmaking style and pointed political satire about right-wing America and fear of the other. The film has a soulful, idiosyncratic personality. It is a look at what life in small town, rural America looks like from an international perspective. It also shows us how to find a way to build an inclusive existence without forgetting who we are and is better than where we came from.
The message comes to us from the two dreamers who set out to open the “ultimate German Sausage restaurant: The Gourmet House of Refuge”— Mike Dankworth McCoid is a good-hearted guy who has just been granted a prison release and Edward Hofler, a German sausage zealot. The two complement and play off one another.
The film opens with a simple black and white title frame from which director Thomsen immediately begins exposing the dark aspects of rural life and culture of the Americana landscape with a voice-over narrative of the town sheriff, played by Chance Kelly. He reveals current topics of discussion including gender conversion therapy, greed disguised in the form of wealth gospel preachers, racism, xenophobia, bestiality, superstitions, and bullying, and how these behaviors continue thrive.
“Gutterbee” is a brilliantly executed film with a message of hope revealed amid the human condition of rural Americans. “It’s mad. It’s scathing. It’s scorching and searing” and just when we are not ready, we are hit by an emotional sucker punch that numbs us. The film will offend many, Thomsen shows how ridiculous and dangerous these people are and he does so with a wicked sense-of-humor and an “underlying hint of menace”. We are both entertained and challenged.