|Director: Trey Parker|
|Screenplay: Trey Parker, Matt Stone, and Pam Brady|
|Voices: Trey Parker (Stan Marsh/Eric Cartman/Mr. Garrison), Matt Stone (KyleBrosloski/Kenny McCormick), Isaac Hayes (Chef), George Clooney (Doctor),Eric Idle (Scientist)|
|MPAA Rating: R|
|Year of Release: 1999|
When you come right down to it, the entire essence of "South Park" (both theComedy Central TV series and the new movie), its modus operandi, as it were,can be boiled down to one thing: the humor of listening to little kidsswear.
It's just that simple. Listening to kids cuss is funny because it's one ofthose truths that adults simply hate to admit. The fact is, kids inelementary school use four-letter words. Not only that, but children can besome of the meanest, most vicious members of the human race, especially toeach other. All that sap about the wonderful innocence of childhood and thepurity and tenderness of being young was basically blown out of the waterwhen the first member of "The Bad News Bears" uttered a cuss word.
Of course, "The Bad News Bears" hold nothing to the tiny tykes of "SouthPark." Although they are crudely animated, squat characters built of littlemore than cut-outs of construction paper, Stan Marsh, Kyle Brosloski, andEric Cartman have the worst potty mouths of all time. And where did theylearn all these foul words? At the movies, of course!
Co-creator Trey Parker has already had a run-in with the MPAA ratings boardlast year over his porno satire "Orgazmo," and the rumor mill has beenchurning recently about whether or not "South Park: Bigger, Longer, & Uncut"actually survived the ratings process in the state its title promises. Fromwhat I have heard, it is not exactly "uncut," as certain things had to besnipped to ensure an R-rating.
But, fear not, for there is plenty of verbal and visual raunchiness left infor even the most jaded viewer. The movie contains hundreds of cusswords--there are even entire musical numbers dedicated to cursing. There arescenes involving a talking clitoris, Saddam Hussein and Satan having sex inhell, not to mention blatantly racist jokes, anti-Semitic remarks, and morefart and vomit jokes than you can shake a stick at. The main point of thismovie is to offend someone, and there's something in it for everyone. Black,white, Jewish, Christian, Canadian, French, pro-life, pro-abortion,feminists--nobody comes out unscathed. Even Bill Gates gets shot in thehead.
The plot revolves around the four South Park kids (Stan, Kyle, Cartman, andlittle Kenny, who, as always, gets killed) sneaking into an R-rated movie bytwo Canadian comedians named Terrence and Philip, who are essentiallycinematic stand-ins for co-creators Parker and Matt Stone (T & P are, afterall, described as untalented actors who have made a fortune with fartjokes). Terrence and Philip's movie, "Asses of Fire," is basically what the"South Park" movie is: one that every little kid in America will want to seebut should not see.
While watching "Asses of Fire," the kids learn every unspeakable word in theEnglish language, which they naturally repeat at school ad nauseum. Thiscauses the concerned parents in town (especially Kyle's overbearing mother)to create a new group called Mothers Against Canada (M.A.C.), whicheventually leads to all-out war between the United States and its northernneighbor. This culminates in nothing less than Armageddon, led by Satan andSaddam who see the impending execution of Terrence and Philip as the finalsign of the apocalypse.
To say that "South Park" is funny would be an understatement. "Bigger,Longer, & Uncut" has several priceless moments, including one where Cartmangets a V-Chip implanted in his skull that gives him an electrical shockevery time he cusses. And, while musical numbers have been the unnecessarybane of many recent animated films, the 15 songs here (most of which wereco-written by Trey Parker and composer Marc Shaiman) are the movie'sgreatest assets, perfectly parodying everything from Disney's "Beauty andthe Beast" (1991) to "Les Miserables."
"South Park" has a kind of no-holds barred mentality that is both itsgreatest asset and its chief liability. It is an asset because it allows foranything and everything; it's hard to get truly offended because it's tryingso hard to offend you (it's almost as if you don't want to give it thesatisfaction). On the other hand, it's a liability because it doesn't allowfor any subtlety. Everything is wham-bam-in-your-face raunchiness, and onecan only take that kind of assaultive comedy for so long before it growstiresome. Even at less than an hour and a half, the "South Park" movie growsthin in its final reel.
Parker and Stone do realize that all this vulgarity needs to have a pointbeyond mere crudeness, and to their credit they do mold it into timelysocial satire. The only problem is that their message gets muddled in theproceedings. Several times in the movie, they make the point that the MPAAratings system is hard on movies with sex and foul language, but lenientwith graphically violent fare (a charge that has been intensified by therecent school shootings).
Their point seems to be, Yes, "South Park" is crude and offensive, but itwon't cause violence the way "action" movie do. But then, Parker and Stoneundermine this argument by turning the end of the film into a gory bloodbathwith American and Canadian troops blowing each other away, leaving abattlefield strewn with blood and brains. Granted, the sequence is animatedand could never be mistaken for reality, but it seems to be an unnecessaryaddition. The satirical message is that the moral defenders ofimpressionable American youth would literally rather see violent death thanobscenity, but Parker and Stone end up delivering both in overabundantquantities to prove their point.
©1999 James Kendrick