If you've seen the popular animated television series, "South Park," which
airs on cable's Comedy Central, you'll know that each and every episode's
purpose is to be as offensive as possible, thus generating laughs of
near-disbelief, and these unbelievable storylines ultimately collide with
often shocking adult language, particularly for television. Nothing, however,
could prepare you for the vulgar, perverse, outrageous, raunchy,
filthy-mouthed experience that is "South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut," the
very first big-screen adaptation of the sitcom, directed by Trey Parker. No
doubt only saving itself from the NC-17 (No Children Under 17 Admitted)
rating because it's a cartoon rather than live-action, the R-rated film is a
full-out, and well-articulated, attack on the bogusness of the MPAA (Motion
Picture Association of America) rating system, no doubt due to Parker's
unfortunate experience with them last year when they rated his comedy,
"Orgazmo," NC-17, even though it had next to no sex and even very little
As afficionados can attest to, the protagonists of "South Park," a wintry
town up north, are a group of potty-mouthed elementary school friends, Stan,
Kyle, Cartman, and Kenny (whose speech is always muffled due to the tight
hood of his jacket, and who dies in a freak accident on each episode, to the
exclamation of his friends, "Oh my god, they killed Kenny"). As the film gets
rolling, the four boys are excitedly off to see the very first Canadian-made
"Terrence and Phillip" movie, based on their own favorite T.V. show about two
childish men who fart a lot. Distraught when they are turned away by the
theater worker due to its R-rating, they successfully pay a homeless man to
get them into the movie, and three hours later, after sitting through an
endless stream of shocking curse word upon curse word , come out of the
theater with, shall we say, an increased and rather colorful vocabularly.
When word gets out about the controversial film, and when all of the children
of South Park have been transformed from "innocent" kids into
profanity-spewing monsters, the parents, headed by Kyle's witch with a
capital "B" mom, create an organization called "Mothers Against Canada,"
believing that the titled country is at fault for the corruption of today's
youth. Soon Terrence and Phillip find themselves facing execution, and it is
up to the young South Park gang to band together to set them free and make
their elders listen to reason. Meanwhile, Kenny, who is inevitably killed
early on and sent to Hell after not being admitted beyond the pearly gates
(and naked angels) of Heaven, discovers that Satan and the recently-deceased
Saddam Hussein are full-fledged lovers plotting to take over the world of the
living the minute the guilty television duo are murdered.
What may surprise "South Park" fans is not only how far this film goes over
the deep end of tastelessness, but that it is a musical, albeit a demented
Disney-style one. Filmmaker Trey Parker (who also does many of the voices
along with partner Matt Stone) has had a talent of creating memorable tunes,
from 1997's bloody comedy, "Cannibal: The Musical," to "Orgazmo," and here he
has succeeded once again. Some of the catchy showstoppers include "Uncle
Fu**a," which literally caused me to laugh so hard I teared up, to "Kyle's
Mom's a Bitch," whose lyrics are hysterically translated into several foreign
languages, to "I Can Change," a solemn solo song sung by Saddam Hussein, who
wants to prove to Satan that he cares about more than just meaningless sex
Loaded with a non-stop barrage of exaggerated profanities, including at least
100 uses of the F-word alone, the film goes so far in the opposite direction
of how "cute 'n' cuddly" animated films are supposed to be made, you can't
help but simply laugh with an equal measure of shock and glee at the overall
craziness, as well as brazenness, of it all.
Also, as is usual with the show, the film has targeted many celebrities, both
living and dead, and has used them as the butt of a many insulting jokes.
Most uproarious honors go to the Baldwin brothers, Brooke Shields (voiced by
Minnie Driver), the late George Burns, and especially Winona Ryder (who is
portrayed doing something truly unthinkable with a round of ping pong balls).
Nary a target is left unabused by director Parker: politicians, right-wing
extremists, organizations, gays, Jews, religion, small-town family "values,"
and at the forefront, the rating system. Usually a bad sign signifying an
absence of thought, the movie also includes as many sex, language, bathroom,
and fart jokes to last a lifetime, and to my amazement, they actually work
here because there is a bit of sly wit behind the more showy humor.
I'd love to say "South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut" is a great movie, both
for its forthright willingness to gain laughs and courageousness in the
mainstream film industry, but there are several problems to be had. For one,
at an already-brief 82 minutes (which may seem rather pat), the picture
overstays its welcome and runs out of a lot of steam in its climax. It never
grows boring or even tedious, but the jokes (or at least the ones that work)
slow down quite a bit. Tight editing of maybe ten minutes might have done the
trick to keep the pace, and fun, at a maximum level. There was also a minor
height of disappointment in that one of the show's most rib-ticklingly
hilarious characters, Mr. Hanky, the Christmas Poo, is nowhere to be found.
One of the series' running characters, Chef (voiced by Isaac Hayes), also
doesn't obtain an ample amount of screen time, and in a movie filled with
music, is unfairly not given one song to sing. A rousing rendition of his
classic "Salty Balls" would have definately done the trick.
Still, it is extremely difficult to adapt a 30-minute cartoon of the same
brand of extreme humor to almost an hour-and-a-half, but Parker has done a
fabulous job under the circumstances, proving that not only is he good with
voices, but is also a fine director and a smart writer who knows how to steal
laughs from an audience. Something tells me that not only will fans of "South
Park" like this first foray into feature films, but those unfamiliar with the
series will also quickly catch on to the hard-edged humor and end up being
won over themselves at the sheer stupidity of it all. I'm not sure a second
"South Park" movie would be a good idea (after all, what could possibly be
done the next time around that wasn't done here?), but as it stands alone,
you almost certainly couldn't find a funnier, or (disregarding its mediocre
finale) more entertaining, movie out in theaters right now.
Copyright © 2000 Dustin Putman