Rental Corner: “South Park” Vulgar, Outdated and Hilarious
Upon its debut episode, “South Park” has been hailed and continues to be for its topical episodes and humor that makes “The Simpsons” look like Disney. I myself have seen the show and aside from its twisted humor, I do admire how it makes a stand against issues the question of censorship, commenting on events like 9/11 or the Zimmerman trail and even satirizing our daily lives right down to having the N.S.A. use Santa Claus for their privacy checks. At this point, a big-screen adaption would be perfect but the problem is that it happened before and in my opinion too early in the success of the show.
“South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut” lives up to its title seeing the animation is cheap but rendered and created on a grander scale, it is 40 – 50 minutes longer than a normal episode and has jokes that wouldn’t dare be seen on Comedy Central. The hype for this movie was big back in 1999 and even today many regard it as one of the greatest animated movies of all time. I hate to step on some toes but I feel different about this one. Don’t get me wrong, this is a good movie but I wouldn’t go that far to say its a masterpiece.
Stan and his friends sneak into a movie starting their favorite Canadian comedians Terrance and Philip but find there is a reason to the R-rating as the film is full of swears and obscenities. The mothers find out and sure enough start to campaign against, not just the movie, but eventually the film’s stars to the point war is waged on Canada. To think one small situation can lead to a huge battle as the freedom of speech is put to the test as just how much material should we expose not just to children but even allow all together.
The movie reflects the harsh nature of the show a lot while making subtle points in our culture. One example is a rally against Canada with one of the mothers Shelia Broflovski talking about how they should protect kids and yet their own sons are in front of them asking to listen to what they have to say about what is going on. Scenes like that are fine as they get the point across to just how extreme we can be at shielding our children from mature material. But then the message starts to wear its welcome out as they continuously address it again and again. Even right up to one of the mothers addressing how the MPAA allows graphic violence but yet has a bone to pick with salty, raunchy dialogue. We get it. The movie is dominate with its political message that it gets tiresome to the point we want to end it sooner.
Points are made further in the guise of subplots that push things further but fit for the sake of the characters. Cartman gets a V-Chip implanted in his brain that causes him to get a shock from his swearing while Kyle tries to muster the courage to tell his mother that what she is doing is more harm than she thinks. It cleverly reflects the neglect parents have in listening to what their kids feel and even the controversy that surrounded the show itself. Almost in a way, this is the creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker expressing their thoughts on the parental backlash the show got along with the others before it like Beavis and Butt-Head and The Simpsons.
While the first half is well paced and knows what to do, the entire second portion gets lost in its political satire and constant snowballing as a friend of the group named Kenny goes to Hell after attempting a dangerous stunt and meets Satan who turns out to be not as horrible as he’s supposed to be made. The closeted good guy demon wishes to live on Earth while dealing with a sex-crazed Saddam Hussein who has more interest in world conquest than a mutual relationship with the ruler of Hell. This is an interesting concept but with a film that already clocks in at 82 minutes, where is the space for this? I guess it adds on to prejudice and don’t judge something but its looks but its way too late in the game as the little mountain town wages war with Canada and plans to execute the fart-loving Canadians they capture.
I don’t mind a movie that snowballs into chaos but it starts to fall apart midway when (again) it hammers in the messages and themes its presenting. I guess that is part of the point seeing its the way the series worked but better in a 23 minute episode because its short and quick to the point. Had there been an extra 10 to 15 minutes, there would be room to expand on things like the Satan subplot and even more curious is Shelia’s hate with Canada that is obviously shown but feels ambiguous at the same time. A moment during the climax where the parents “quit” the group to actually save their kids, Shelia looks on at the violent battle they have created with no emotional effect. Why is that? We never get answer or anything is made clear of it.
Outside of the offensive humor that is a staple of the show, “South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut” is 15 years old and it shows. Most of the political commentary about how far we must push censorship holds up but most of it feels outdated. We’ve come so far from planting chips in televisions to Christian Watchdog groups that feels more like a look back at this and laugh than a message delivery. Even the look of the movie is a tad crude when you consider how the look of the show is today with how so much Flash animation has come a long way from. I feel newcomers will question why some characters get more screen time than others while being lost at the mention of pop culture references like Bryan Addams and a song dedicated to a famed ice skater.
I forgot to mention. The whole movie is a parody of the Disney formula as well right down to having it be a movie musical. Transitioning into the goods of “Bigger, Longer and Uncut,” even if you don’t like the gross-out jokes then you must admit the songs are great. From the innocent opener “Mountain Town” to the Oscar-nominated “Blame Canada,” these songs satire the archetype of how most animated movies of the 1990’s were for kids and had songs. Ironic how the songs feel straight out of an Alan Menken songbook and are in a mature movie. And when the jokes are solid, they can be really solid. Its nice to see a comedy that is more character driven and less on how we can ante up others like The Hangover.
But aside from that, the biggest problem I have with “South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut” is that it came out way too early in the show’s success. Sure shows like Twin Peaks got a movie after its short-lived run but “South Park has been on the air for more than 17 seasons and its big time for a movie came out too soon in my opinion. This was also when Trey and Matt were toying with ideas and the style of the humor and it shows. Even the creators have gone on to say that if the first 40+ episodes went missing, they wouldn’t care because of how rough they are. And even this movie reflects it considering its focus is on how cruder and gross can we make these jokes to be and less on how it should affect the characters. I feel the show got better and funnier in later seasons but the movie doesn’t feel it has aged for those reasons. But seeing it as a film on its own without thinking of it being an adaption, its still good in my books.
Posted on September 16, 2014, in Rental Corner and tagged 1999, Animated, Bigger Longer and Uncut, Blame Canada, Cartman, Censorship, Comedy Central, Crude, Freedom of Speech, Matt stone, rental corner, South Park, Trey Parker. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.