A Selection from My Collection: South Park: Bigger Longer & Uncut
By Chris Kavan - 07/09/11 at 10:03 AM CT
I think Trey Parker and Matt Stone have a secret agenda to get people to like musicals. This film, Team America and the Tony-winning Book of Mormon just go to show that you can have crude humor AND enjoy musicals at the same time.
WARNING: This blog has been rated R by the MPAA, also there are spoilers.
Parker and Stone released this film in 1999, just two years after South Park premiered. It was a smart move, as the show was riding a huge wave of popularity. I don’t know how many people were expecting a musical, I know I wasn’t, but somehow it just works.
They manage to ape a lot of styles from Broadway hits Oklahoma! and Les Miserables to Satan’s Disney-esque song. The song Blame Canada was nominated for Best Original Song at the Academy Awards, but inexplicably lost to Phil Collins (who they later rightfully skewered on the show). I can’t say for sure, but I have a feeling when I first heard Uncle Fucker, it was one of the biggest gut-busters I’ve had. I’m talking tears in the eyes from laughing so much.
But Parker and Stone had another agenda besides bringing musicals to mainstream America. They also had it out for the MPAA. They were always angling for an R-rated film – in fact, I can’t imagine another animated film with more swearing – I mean, when else do you get to hear “donkey-raping shit eater” and “testicle shitting rectal wart” – in any context? They weren’t afraid to get the most out of things, but the whole point of the movie is that while a few swear words are frowned upon, violence is hardly given a second glance.
The best example is the huge battle scene at the end, which is obviously a comparison to the opening scene in Saving Private Ryan. People are blown up, shot, stabbed, chain-sawed (okay, maybe that last part isn’t in Saving Private Ryan) – the point is, Americans aren’t as concerned with violence (see also: Passion of the Christ) than with a couple of “fucks” thrown in a movie. Also, we’re way more uptight about sex in movies. The scene where Satan and Saddam are in bed and Saddam whips out his dick was originally going to knock to movie to NC-17 status, until it was changed to a dildo (which apparently is OK ‘cause it’s not real).
Another thing is the issue with parents who have beef with media. Whether it’s movies, TV, music, video games or books – parents and adults in general seem to go after them to blame on their children’s faults rather than point the finger at themselves. In fact in the song Blame Canada they explicitly say they want to shift the blame to Canada before they themselves can be blamed. When it comes down to it, you can blame Columbine and other shootings on Doom or Marilyn Manson but that’s just because parents and teachers don’t want to admit they didn’t pay enough attention to prevent whatever happened from happening. It’s one of those things that drives me crazy. I’ve been reading Stephen King since middle school, played violent games pretty much my whole life and enjoyed horror films since I was babysat. I didn’t go out and kill anyone or blow people up – so what gives?
So, onto the movies itself: Our boys get involved in a war between American and Canada after the new Terrance and Phillip movie “Asses of Fire” causes and uproar amongst their mothers for toilet humor and crude language. So after causing huge flap, Canada bombs the Baldwins, leading to the execution of Terrance and Phillip – which just so happens to be the one thing needed for Satan to bring about his rule, but his gay lover Saddam Hussein has his own plans. The boys plan a rescue, Stan must find the clitoris and get Wendy to like him, Kyle needs to stand up to his mom, Cartman needs the get a V-chip out of his head and Kenny dies, goes to hell, saves the day and gets to heaven where apparently there are only 1600 or so souls (compared to the billion or so in hell) and the ladies are nude and beautiful.
There are some great and wonderful and bizarre moments to the film: I love how Satan has a gigantic portrait of Skeet Ulrich in his bedroom for no good reason. I love Eric Idle having to say the line “big floppy donkey dick”. I love that half of Canada’s income is made from Terrance and Phillip and the other half are made up of things like “porn industry” “logging” and, of course “X-files Filming” (you may not get the reference if you weren’t around in the mid-90s). I love that Alanis Morissette’s CD is titled “Naked and Crying”. I love George Clooney’s cameo voice as the doctor who kills Kenny by replacing his heart with a baked potato and then casually whistling himself off screen. In fact, I love all the cameo voices (Minnie Driver as Brooke Shields, Brent Spiner as Conan O’Brien, Dave Foley as all the Baldwins and Mike Judge uttering Kenny’s only un-muffled line in the entirety of the series). I love Winona Ryder’s “ping-pong ball trick”.
This is a movie that requires careful examination to catch all the little things – and those are the movies I love. Plus, the movie not only references the series with appearance by Big Gay Al and just about every other character introduced until then), but in the season to follow, the show actually references the movie (like what happens to Saddam and Satan and how Kenny keeps returning to the show). They don’t do it every episode, but it’s nice to know the movie wasn’t just a one-off thing.
Will some people be offended by this movie? Definitely – the film is vulgar, warped and crude. Yet it’s done in such a way that no one should feel offended. If anything, Parker and Stone are making fun of their own show more than anything else – ratcheting up the premise of foul-mouthed 4th-graders to 11. And who else has the balls to make Satan a homosexual? One has to wonder if Saddam ever saw this movie and what he thought about it.
As I say with many films: just have fun with it people. Sure it’s a musical, it tackles censorship issues, violence in films, over-reacting parents and even pokes fun at itself. In the end, you can either dig a little deeper into the issues, or just enjoy the film and revel in its vulgarity. The choice is yours.