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SOUTH PARK: IMAGINATIONLAND

Review by Michael Jacobson

Creators:  Trey Parker, Matt Stone
Audio:  Dolby Digital Stereo
Video: Full Frame 1.33:1
Studio:  Paramount
Features:  See Review
Length:  65 Minutes
Release Date:  March 11, 2008

“F—k me…it’s a leprechaun.”

Film *

My best friend and I, both South Park fans, had a conversation not too long ago about the state of the show.  I felt for the most part, the show had stayed consistent over the years.  He, on the other hand, felt the groundbreaking cartoon was losing something by maybe trying too hard.  While we disagreed, he suggested I go back and watch the earlier seasons and see if I noticed a difference.

Well, I haven’t had a chance to do that, but I did get to view South Park: Imaginationland, originally a three part airing combined into a single feature-length release for DVD.  And I had to admit, at least as far as this offering went, something was definitely rotten in the state of Denver.

The basic premise is a world where all the creatures of human imagination live and play, and our favorite foul-mouthed fourth graders are whisked away to it by a creepy fellow in a blimp who looks something like the character at Epcot.  But a leprechaun brings a warning:  terrorists are planning to attack our imaginations.  By destroying the wall that separated the good from the evil, all humanity will be brought to the brink.  Or at least, we’ll think it is.

My friend said something about ‘trying too hard’.  Well, this disc backs up his point.  Using an imaginary land as a plot device meant unlimited possibilities, and Trey Parker and Matt stone didn’t seem to know when to quit.  They even brought back the Satan worshipping Woodland Critters from Cartman’s holiday story, and the Manbearpig, which was Al Gore’s faux threat on mankind.  You’ll see more creatures and creations from every walk of storytelling than you can keep track of, though I personally lost interest about the time the bad guys were torturing Strawberry Shortcake.

It turns out it’s up to Butters to use his own imagination and make everything right before the military launches a nuclear attack on Imaginationland, and thus, I suppose, prevent any further episodes of South Park being created.  Oh, I almost forgot the crux of the entire story, which actually revolves around Kyle losing a bet to Cartman, and as a result, having to…well, sorry.  Can’t print that here.

South Park: Imaginationland is like a cartoon of a late Fellini film.  It’s all excess and indulgence, and forgets to be entertaining.  It’s not a common experience for me to watch South Park and never laugh, and given the over 60-minute running time, that’s more than a little disappointing.

Video ***1/2

These shows remain looking top-notch on DVD, and this one offers plenty of whimsical animation for you to enjoy.  It’s bright, colorful, crisp and clear throughout.

Audio ***

The stereo audio is dynamic and clean, and given the nature of the battle scenes (yes, I said battle scenes), almost offer a surround-like feeling.

Features **1/2

For those used to Matt and Trey’s “mini” commentaries on other South Park DVDs, you’ll be pleased to hear this one is a little longer.  It doesn’t quite make it all the way to the end of the show, but offers more than usual.  The only gag that gets old is the idea that whenever they say something controversial, the outro music from Primus plays to cover it up.  Also included are two earlier episodes referenced in the film; “Woodland Critter Christmas” and “Manbearpig”.

Summary:

Good thing I didn’t make a bet with my friend akin to what Kyle bet Cartman on whether or not South Park is still as good as it once was.  The jury is still out for me, but Imaginationland is a particularly damaging piece of evidence to my case.

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