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CHRISTMAS TIME IN SOUTH PARK

Review by Michael Jacobson

Creators:  Trey Parker, Matt Stone
Audio:  Dolby Digital Stereo
Video:  Full Frame 1.33:1
Studio:  Paramount
Features:  None
Length:  154 Minutes
Release Date:  November 13, 2007

“HIDEY HO!”

Shows ***1/2

Ah, who could ever forget those classic TV animated Christmas specials?  I grew up with them, and as a kid, eagerly anticipating seeing them year after year was as much a part of the holiday as decorations and presents.

If you’re like me, and feeling nostalgic for those old, feel-good tales with positive messages and holiday spirit…well, you’ve come to the wrong place.  Christmas Time in South Park features specials that are animated and about Christmas…and that’s pretty much where the similarity ends.

Not that I’m complaining, mind you.  These unflappable, endlessly funny cartoon creations from Trey Parker and Matt Stone have become a new kind of holiday tradition for many…one that the grownups could enjoy once the little ones were sent off to bed to dream of visions of sugar plums.  Let them have Frosty, Rudolph and Charlie Brown.  Bring on Mr. Hankey, the Christmas Poo!

Right from the first episode where Mr. Hankey appeared on the screen, fans knew that in the realm of South Park, nothing was sacred, including Christmas.  That episode remains a perennial fan favorite and one of the boys’ funniest misadventures ever, as the chipper Mr. Hankey teaches the kids of South Park a thing or two about the true meaning of Christmas.  Even for Kyle, who’s Jewish.

Trey and Matt would find more holiday mirth and mayhem over the years, and this DVD includes seven classic Christmas episodes.  Who could ever forget “Merry Christmas Charlie Manson”, even if they tried?

From “It’s Christmas in Canada”, where Stan, Cartman and Kenny join Kyle to get his little brother Ike back from his real parents in a race to get back in time for the big day, to the hilarious “Red Sleigh Down” where Santa gets shot down over Iraq, leading Jesus to head up a rescue team to get him back, the holidays were indeed a time for laughter.  Even a time to kid the most sacred of traditions, especially when Jesus gives his life to save Santa and Santa comes up with the novel idea that from then on, Christmas would be a day to remember Jesus and his sacrifice.  Whoda thunk?

“A Very Crappy Christmas” reunites the boys with Mr. Hankey, who tries to save the big day for his own family.  But perhaps the strangest entry of all was “Woodland Critter Christmas”, which turns cute forest animals into a Satanic cult…that one has to be seen to be believed, and if you make it through to the end, the payoff is hysterical.

I guess it’s only fitting that the guys who warped everything from global warming to alien abduction, from scientology to Mormonism, would find Christmas to their liking.  Thanks to them, we’ll always have Santa, elves, Jack Frost, and talking, singing, fecal matter.  Gosh…I feel warmer already!

Video ***

These animated episodes looked good on DVD their first time around, and continue to do so here, with bright coloring, solid lines, and the ever-famous limited animation techniques that are so endearing.

Audio ***

The stereo audio mixes are better than most, with lively dynamic range, music and clear dialogue delivering superb enjoyment.

Features (zero stars)

Nada…not even a lump of coal.

Summary:

Christmas Time in South Park is a terrific, fun-filled and possibly inappropriate holiday offering that, for those with the right sense of humor (like me), will find great fun time and time again.  Just remember…watch it without the kids.

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