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Sunday, December 9, 2012

South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut (1999) - Scattershot Potshots at Modern Mores


South Park Bigger Longer and Uncut poster
"South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut" (1999).

Pretty much everybody has heard of South Park. It has been on the air since the last Millennium, and shows no signs of slowing down. This is a feature film from early in the television series' run, and it has all of the familiar characters. What it doesn't have is a very original plot, but that is not a fatal flaw.

Class is in session in South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut
"South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut."

The "South Park" (1997) franchise carries on the fine tradition of the long-departed MTV animated show "Beavis and Butt-Head" (1993). It also echoes the rawness of "Married with Children" (1987) and finds its controversial roots back in the dawn of time with "All in the Family" (1968). Creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone knew what they were doing, and they went out and did it. You have to hand it to them, because whether or not you like their style, they made their dream happen.

Explosives in South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut
"South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut."

Parker and Stone stay behind the cameras for "South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut" (1999). That works out well, because, talented as they are, Parker and Stone are animators, not actors, however much they wish they could be movie stars. When Parker and Stone stick to animation, they are unbeatable. Sure enough, "South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut" was a huge success because the two creators stick to what works on television.

The children in South Park
"South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut."

The kids in "South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut" understand adult issues and comment on them in adult ways, but everyone rushes to make sure they are not poisoned by being exposed to anything too adult. It's a wonderful way for the animator to have it both ways: to play the kids as poor victims, but have them turn around and be just as cynical and knowing as any adult.

Satan and Saddam Hussein in South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut
Saddam and the Devil in "South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut."

The four boys question - Stan, Marsh, Kyle and his stepbrother Ike Broflovski, Eric Cartman, and Kenny McCormick - sneak into an obnoxious R-rated movie that features some Canadian performers. One might say that this is modeled after the "Jackass" phenomenon, but that came later. Thus, this film is almost prescient in seeing how low common taste and culture would sink in just a few short years. Naturally, all the parents are outraged that their innocent little darlings could be exposed to anything worse than "Bambi" or "Sleeping Beauty," so they seek their revenge against - wait for it - the Canadians!


Saddam and Satan in South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut
"South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut."

Trey Parker and Matt Stone do most of the voices, but such was their clout after only a few years in the business that they could get George Clooney, Brent Spiner, Dave Foley, Eric Idle and Minnie Driver to do virtual cameos in this film. Saddam Hussein plays a major role in the story as Satan's handmaiden, and this was even before the second Gulf war. While Saddam may be receding into our rear-view mirrors, he wasn't when this film was made. Parker and Stone get bonus points for picking on someone who really did go ballistic only a few years later.

Peace activists in South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut
"South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut."

Saddam is fun to pick on for other reasons, though. He was the author of several classic comic lines. It isn't easy to come up with stuff that sinks into the popular culture! He deserves full credit for the "mother of all battles" quote that inspired a million rip-offs. He had a real future as a comedian, if he could only have stopped gassing his own people and starting wars with everybody around him.

Satan and Saddam in a compromising position in South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut
"South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut."

This film is simple fun. Kids will like it the best, but some of the language and situations are a little raw for the youngest children. Nothing is off limits for these guys, so it might be best to put the smallest children to bed before you stay up late watching this one.


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