Sunday, August 12, 2012

South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut - One of the Funniest Movies Ever Made

In a discussion of modern animated shows, there's a pretty good chance that South Park will come up. The show, created by Trey Parker and Matt Stone, first aired in August 1997 on Comedy Central and remains to be one of the channel's highest rated programs, currently in its 16th season. Amazingly enough, a full length feature film was released in 1999, less than two years into the show's run, to mostly positive reviews. I have decided to review this movie now since I rented it, along with Super Mario Bros., and I've been catching up with the show for a while to gear up for the upcoming South Park: The Stick of Truth video game to be released next year. After watching this movie for the second time, I can say that it should not be skipped.

Stan (Trey Parker), Kyle (Matt Stone), Cartman (Trey Parker) and Kenny (Matt Stone) are excited to see the new Terrance and Phillip movie, Terrance and Phillip: Asses of Fire, in theaters. However, they are denied entry due to its "R" rating and end up sneaking in by paying off a homeless man to purchase tickets for them. When they leave, their newly colorful vocabulary convinces the other children of South Park to see the movie as well, surprising and enraging their parents when they start using profanities in school. As a result, the mothers of South Park form an organization to boycott the movie, which eventually escalates to kidnapping Terrance (Matt Stone) and Phillip (Trey Parker) and a potential war with Canada, the duo's country of origin, which could cause Satan (Trey Parker) to rise back up to Earth to reclaim it as his kingdom.

First and foremost, South Park is a comedy, and humor is where it truly delivers. South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut is considered by many to be one of the funniest movies of all time and I couldn't agree more. The obscene amount of profanities, which actually earned it a Guinness World Record for "Most Swearing in an Animated Film" with 399 profane words, and their creative application by the cast is on its own laugh-out-loud funny, though the humor can also be a little base at times. This movie also makes fun of as many people and groups as it possibly can, including the Baldwins, Saddam Hussein, the United States Military and even the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA (I'll get back to that in a bit)). While some may be offended by the sense of humor it has, that appears to be the point due it being so light-heartedly offensive as to be funny.

Within all of the humor, the main theme of the movie is censorship and scapegoating. When the children of the town are cursing up a storm, the parents swoop in to try and curb their actions, but to no avail (the kids even watch Asses of Fire again after a rehab session encouraging the opposite). After this failure, the mothers form Mothers Against Canada and decide that instead of pinning the blame on the movie, as originally attempted, they should instead blame the entirety of Canada for what has happened to their children. This takes the scapegoating to its highest extreme and is a wonderful parody of how far people will go to blame the source. The issue of censorship is also parodied fantastically by having a V-Chip placed into Cartman's brain. Since Cartman swears the most out of all the boys, it's even funnier to hear him struggle to swear as he finds out what is considered a swear by the chip, but certain words that fall into the category are even funnier to hear (who knew that Barbara Streisand was a swear?).

To top it all off, Bigger, Longer & Uncut is also a musical, featuring a good number of tunes written by Trey Parker and Marc Shaiman. The presence of these songs evoke feelings from other musicals, though in a way that not only keeps the humor of the show, but also shows off Trey Parker's love of Broadway show tunes. A good number of them are extremely catchy, like "Blame Canada", "Uncle F**ka" and "What Would Brian Boitano Do?", while others are simply fun to listen to, like "Mountain Town" and "Kyle's Mom's a B**ch" among others. Interestingly, "Blame Canada", a song which embodies and ramps up the scapegoating theme, was even nominated for an Academy Award for Best Song (though it lost to Phil Collins' "You'll Be in my Heart"). The work that was put into every song, for the most part, paid off spectacularly and contributes to the atmosphere and events to make the overall experience more enjoyable.

And now for the delayed bit about the MPAA. This organization is one of many that are made fun of in the movie, mainly for the fact that they have a problem with words, but not violence and blood. They are also criticized in the same context for not being effective, since the boys are able to get into the Asses of Fire screening despite the "R" rating attached. In fact, the act of sneaking in was practically mirrored in real life due to underage fans of South Park unsuccessfully sneaking into the movie, which apparently included buying tickets for WB's Wild Wild West and instead sitting in on South Park. In real life, Parker and Stone had also fought with the MPAA to try and get the film approved with an "R", getting an "NC-17" repeatedly until two weeks before release when it suddenly got the desired rating without any changes; whenever a scene was rejected during the process however, the duo would make it even worse and it instantly got approved. Looking back on it I can see why the film may have been rated higher than it is officially, but the fact that it has an "R" should still say something. In fact, the controversy from the rating itself is the reason that the MPAA prints information on movie posters explaining why they rated a movie a certain way, a "rating reason" if you will.

South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut is one of the funniest musical comedies I have ever seen. This film from 1999 still holds up today with its messages, the humor is still as sharp as ever and the music is really fun to listen to. It may run a little long for some, but it is truly an example of a movie that has aged graciously. Fans of South Park will definitely enjoy it, as will those who have heard of the movie or the hype surrounding it. Just keep in mind however that if you have children under the appropriate age, don't let them see it just yet and explain the reasons properly. If you are a child, please wait until you are old enough; you'll like it better when you're older.

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