South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut
Directed by Trey Parker
Review by Matt Heffernan
"South Park" is the highest rated show on cable TV next to professional wrestling. What does that say about America? I don't know -- I'm just here to review films. In fact, it was the premiere of this film that inspired me to create FilmHead.com. For about a year and a half now, I have run a relatively popular "South Park" site. I had intended originally to write a review for that page, but then I came up with the idea of having a whole site dedicated to film reviews. So here goes my very first online review.
South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut is first and foremost, a musical. It's not exactly Pinocchio, but would technically belong in the same genre. Trey Parker, the director and co-creator (with Matt Stone) of "South Park," is also a songwriter, as fans of the show know. In this film, he takes the opportunity to write several full-length musical numbers, unlike the small song-lets we have heard before. The format of a feature film also gives him and co-writer Stone the freedom to write whatever words they want.
The stars of this film are the familiar gang from the show: Stan Marsh, Kyle Broflovski, Eric Cartman, and Kenny McCormick. They are a bunch of third-graders in South Park, CO -- a little mountain town outside of Denver. In the beginning of the film, they go to a film called Asses of Fire. It stars their favorite Canadian duo, Terrance and Phillip. Their film, like their TV show, consists of them swearing at, and farting on, each other. Except in this film (an obvious parallel to the film it's in), the language is uncensored, and therefore incredibly profane. After the movie, the boys start talking like Terrance and Phillip, which enrages their school and their parents.
Kyle's mother starts an organization (Mothers Against Canada) that blames this Canadian import for causing this outrageous behavior. They get the U.S. government to ban all Terrance and Phillip movies, shows, and merchandise. This provokes Canada to attack the U.S., since Terrance and Phillip are the basis of their economy. In turn, the boys organize a resistance movement to fight the censorship and stop the war that has begun.
Some may call me less than objective when I review this film. After all, "South Park" generates my biggest audience on the web, but my intent for FilmHead.com is to give my honest, unbiased opinion on films. In this case, though, I really did enjoy this film. The style of the show transfers very well to the screen. The animation is actually computer generated, but is made to look like construction paper. That was the medium of The Spirit of Christmas, the 1995 short that was the basis of "South Park." In the film, the animators combine this style with more elaborate computer effects.
It's no spoiler to say that the character Kenny gets killed. He gets killed in every episode of the show, with little exception. His journey to hell is a masterful use of computer animation that is integrated with the intentionally crude character animation.
The screenplay is filled with the raunchy humor that fans will expect. Here it is set free to explore the furthest reaches of vulgarity, yet always keeps the right tone. Some might view the humor as mean-spirited, but taken in context it isn't really offensive. Like There's Something About Mary, this film knows how to cross the line of good taste without falling down the abyss of depravity by staying there too long. Many other films, most recently Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me, do not know how to keep this balance.
I'm afraid, however, that people unfamiliar with the show may not fully appreciate this film. Some may be quite shocked by it. It's certainly not a film for children, but neither is the show. Unfortunately, many parents don't take the time to monitor what their kids watch on TV, and the show has become very popular with the under 17 crowd. I would not recommend taking children to see this since it is far more explicit than the show. This is a film for adults, so leave the kids with a babysitter and go out and have a few dirty laughs. The theme of the film, after all, is that censorship is wrong. Just because it's not appropriate for children does not mean that adults should not be allowed to see it either.
For more information, go to the Internet Movie Database:
South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut (1999)
Video Pick of the Week
Guide to Star Ratings
Review © 1999 Matt Heffernan