SOUTH PARK: BIGGER, LONGER, UNCUT
Review by Michael Jacobson
Trey Parker, Matt Stone, Mary Kay Bergman, Isaac Hayes
Director: Trey Parker
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Surround
Video: Widescreen 1.85:1, 16x9 Enhanced
Features: 3 Trailers
Length: 81 Minutes
Release Date: November 23, 1999
The irony of South
Park: Bigger Longer & Uncut begins
when our young heroes Stan, Kyle, Kenny and Cartman go to see the motion picture
debut of their favorite television stars, Canada’s own Terrance and Phillip.
This duo had always been rude and crude, but in their own R rated film,
they open up with a barrage of swearing and filthy talk the likes of which the
kids had never heard. And, of
course, the exact same thing is happening with this movie version of the TV show
South Park. The point
where Terrance and Phillip go off the deep end with their language (including a
catchy song whose title I can’t even print, but seems to use the F-word more
in a couple of minutes than Pulp Fiction in
its entirety) is also the point where the envelope pushing SP is doing the same
thing. And we see plenty of
offended people at the Terrance and Phillip movie leaving the
theatre—something co-creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone no doubt predicted
would happen in real life with their film.
But in a way, it’s just as well. These
are the kind of people for whom this kind of irony would be lost upon.
So, when the kids begin a rampage of dirty talk and sexual
euphemisms, it sends shock waves through the small mountain town.
And soon, the parents, for the good and well being of their children,
decide to end the influence Terrance and Phillip have over them…by publicly
executing the duo at a big USO show, and declaring war on Canada.
The structure of the movie, amusingly enough, plays out
like one of those Disney family cartoons complete with beefed up musical
production numbers…check out the film’s opening and see if it doesn’t
remind you of “Belle” from Beauty and
the Beast. And if you’re a
fan of the musical Les Miserables, there
are a few numbers designed to allude to it as well, right down to the red and
black flag the kids fly for their organization La Resistance, the group that
will fight for Terrance and Phillip’s freedom.
And there are plenty of other allusions, too, for those who pay attention
or care enough to look for them, like Anne
Frank, A Clockwork Orange, and more. And
if you don’t pick up on them, no big loss…it’s still funny.
Parker and Stone obviously wanted to create a film that
would offend just about everybody. I
think they succeeded. My limit was
pushed a little bit from time to time, and I don’t consider myself a prude.
However, there’s a bit more to this film than just
“shock art”…there are actually some ideas being presented (always through
irony) that don’t lose their points amongst the laughter.
The ridiculous ways the parents go about protecting their kids, for
one…they rally, and wave signs, and protest, and ultimately start a war.
What do their children do while they’re away fighting for their well
being? See the Terrance and Phillip
movie again, naturally.
Or how about the strange notion that graphic violence is okay for kids to
watch, as long as the language is kept clean?
And then, to drive the point home, the film does get ridiculously violent
toward the end on top of the endless profanity.
Oh, and the military’s operation “Human Shield” is one of the most
hysterical moments in the film…and a point well taken, too.
Where the movie falls short is in the way it tries to milk
certain gags for much more than they’re worth.
For example, the idea of Satan and Sadaam Hussein being lovers is kind of
funny…but the picture goes back, and back, and back to it until you’re sick
of the sight of them. And the
implantation of a V-chip into Cartman’s brain that shocks him whenever he
swears…again, funny at first, but soon becomes overused and way too
predictable. But those moments
don’t really kill the comic momentum the film maintains…just take it off
track for a few feet now and again.
And there are some nice surprises for fans of the show,
too. There are references to even
the earliest days of SP, for those who remember the 5 minute animated Christmas
card that started it all (brought to life in a terrific little song called
“What Would Brian Boitano Do?”). Oh,
and in case you were wondering about whether or not Kenny dies, or how many
times he might die…sorry, I’m not telling.
Let’s face it…South Park is as primitive as modern animation can be (a point the picture even kids nicely at one point). To compare this film to The Iron Giant would be ill-advised. Being what it is, however, Paramount did a top-notch job with their anamorphic transfer. Colors are what the film boasts, in large flat patches, but the colors are always good, and images are always sharp, clear, and have well-defined edges, despite the obvious two-dimensionality of the movie.
The 5.1 soundtrack is very clean and clear, though it
mostly comes to life during the many musical numbers, which tend to spread to
all channels for added dynamism. Apart from that, the rears are only
occasionally harnessed for some minor sound effects. The .1 channel gets
to kick in during some of the hard rock numbers and the big battle finale.
I’m going to guess most people will have a pretty good
idea what they’re getting into before they even pick up this disc, i.e. those
who are fans of the show. Those who
don’t like South Park probably
won’t view the movie, and it’s better that way.
Fans will find in the film more of what they love about the
show…indeed, bigger and longer. You’ll
laugh a lot. And you’ll probably
be a little offended. You may even
feel like you need to take a long shower afterward.
But there is a method to the madness, and points of irony that won’t be
lost on the SP purists.