It was inevitible that the cable cartoon hit South Park would eventually worm its way into theaters. A show stifled even by the minimal censorship of cable TV, South Park was begging for the freedom to be as crude and vulgar as possible. Now in the movie, South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut, it gets its chance. A rarity, an R-rated cartoon, South Park easily earns its rating with hefty doses of obscenity and violence, but, for those that can stomach it, it’s actually a strangely entertaining film.
For those unfamiliar with the cartoon, it follows the exploits of four cherubic children (who look like they have leapt from a preschooler’s adaptation of the Peanuts comic strip) in the wintery town of South Park, Colorado. The twist is that these kids are anything but cherubic, with dirty mouths and minds. Packed to the gills with violence and vulgarity, South Park has always been intended as a cartoon for adults…which explains its popularity with children.
Freed from the restrictions of cable television, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the creators of the show, have decided to push the limits of the rating system. Now, instead of bleeping the foul-mouthed boys, audiences can discover the true epithets of obscenity that can pour from their mouths. This, combined with more violence and nudity than you’d find in the TV show, gives South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut an advantage over other feature length TV cartoon adaptations. It actually can offer something on the big screen that is more than just a long episode.
The plot follows the four boys, Kyle, Stan, Cartman and Kenny as they find their way into the vulgar new “Terence and Phillip movie”. The corruption of their young minds which ensues ultimately leads to a war between the United States and Canada, and the threat of ultimate Armageddon as Satan plots to take over the world (as soon as he can escape his codependent relationship with the recently deceased, and overly sexual, Sadaam Hussein.)
Parker and Stone have ingeniously incorporated right into the movie their rebuttal to any attacks on the relative merits of South Park. The Terence and Phillip movie is obviously a stand-in for their own film (albeit in an exaggerated and even more vulgar way). Anyone complaining about the contents of South Park, or its effects on uncorrupted young minds, will be immediately compared to the similar contemptuous figures in the movie.
South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut certainly pushes the boundaries of the R rating. If it were a live action film, it would be a heavy NC-17. If you’re not the type who can find humor in a song such as Uncle F****, composed of nearly nonstop vulgarity, this movie is not for you.
That said, if you’re still interested in the film, there’s some good news for you. The film is very funny, with plenty of moments bordering on the hilarious. Though it derives a good measure of its attempts at humor from the aforementioned vulgarity, the film also satirizes modern culture and attitudes. From international politics to Jar Jar Binks, this movie is an equal opportunity offender.
Fans of the show might be taken aback by the film’s nonstop musical numbers. An attempt to mock both Disney cartoons and Broadway theater, the songs also have the advantage of padding out an otherwise short movie. There’s not much more material here than you’d find in a typical 30-minute show, but the film manages to stretch that out to nearly an hour and a half. The musical numbers are enjoyable for the most part, but begin to wear out their welcome as the film plods along.
There’s not much point to South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut. Depending on your point of view, the film is either an argument for or against strict censorship. Sure, the film has no merit…but it’s amusing. It’s up to you to decide if that is enough.