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South Park: Bigger Longer & Uncut

Review Written by: Estefan Ellison
Film: A+

Directed by: Trey Parker
Written by: Trey Parker, Matt Stone and Pam Brady
Based on the television series by: Trey Parker and Matt Stone
Produced by: Trey Parker and Matt Stone
Starring: Trey Parker, Matt Stone, Mary Kay Bergman, Issac Hayes, Jesse Howell, George Clooney, Dave Foley, Eric Idle, Brent Spiner
Studio: Paramount Pictures

In the twenty-first century, it appears the world has become more and more cowardly and thus entertainment has attempted to be more about being "politically incorrect" than providing worthwhile, honest entertainment. The biggest insult as of date has been the editing of the cartoons of yester-year, due to the smoking and racial depictions that were seen in those masterpieces. Animated series today lack the daring of those programmes and thus children are introduced to juvenile feel-goodery rather than the comic violence provided by the Looney Tunes. Even Sesame Street's Cookie Monster has been put on a diet, due to angry letters from parent's groups. The only cartoon out there that is not afraid to be blunt, satirical and downright naughty is South Park, the crudely animated adventures of four boys in a Colorado mountain town. Each week, creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone bring forth what can be referred to as a warped, politically-charged and happily vulgar version of Peanuts. Yet, looking beyond the construction paper animation and constant swearing, South Park proves to be a witty and funny blend of intelligent, take-no-prisoners humour and even some heart and sweetness thrown in as well. The feature film version of the animated series, appropriately and comically titled Bigger, Longer & Uncut, has a message which Parker and Stone manage to successfully swing it in along with a bunch of side-splitting funny sight gags, musical numbers and flatulence humour.

Kyle, Stan, Cartman and Kenny are excited about seeing their favourite Canadian actors Terrnace and Philip in their first big-screen film. When they are not allowed admittance into the R-rated "cartoon", they sneak in and thus are their vocabulary is afforded some colourful new words. Their potty mouths angers the parents of South Park and so they decide to wage war with Canada, blaming them for all of society's wrongs and soon Terrance and Philip themselves are arrested and put on death row for "corrupting American's youth." To save their heroes, the children of South Park start their own group. As in the series, Kenny dies and is sent to Hell, where he meets Satan and Saddam Hussein, who see the ongoing war as their chance to finally take over the world.

Free from the restraints of television, Parker and Stone are free to enter possibilities that have not been explored before in the series. Yet, they oddly decide to keep it low-key by centering on the four main boys. Kyle and Stan are the straight men and the eight-year-old altar egos of Matt and Trey. Simply put, they may be vulgar and the comments spewing out of their mouths may not be the most friendly, but they're likable and the characters the audience is most able to relate. Even the bigoted slimeball that is Cartman has a sweet side to him, as he is all for the fight against censorship. In a situation almost akin to A Clockwork Orange, once he has been forced to no longer swear, the audience is waiting for him to get his beloved powers back. And finally, there's Kenny the un-sung hero of the story. While his death is used by the parents as a way to exploit their cause, Kenny attempts to stop the war once he learns of Hussein's intentions. The South Park gang have been around for a decade now and yet it's this film that's them at their all-time best.

Plenty of what makes the film more than just a longer episode of the series is the way in which Trey Parker and Broadway composer Marc Shaiman turn Bigger, Longer & Uncut into a Disney-style musical. The songs are clever and creative and best of all, they help move the plot along and do not feel like they're just adding to the running time. The opening number "Mountain Town", a parody of Beauty and the Beast's beginning, fools the audience into believing that they're about to watch a feel-good family comedy by giving it a tone different from what appears after those first four minutes. After that, the music goes in all sorts of directions. The audience is treated to a profane and flatulence filled homage to Oklahoma!, a march declaring the evils of America's neighbour to the north, a song of admiration towards a figure skater and finally, a combination of the film's best tunes done in the style of Les Miserables. There is even a love ballad played during the end credits, spoofing the typical melodramatic songs that Oscar usually awards (and South Park would, not surprisingly, lose to). Parker understands the musical genre perfectly, as previously evidenced in his student film Cannibal! The Musical and Bigger, Longer & Uncut stands as one of the best the art of cinema has offered.

One of the most notable aspects of South Park, along with the humour, is the political satire. In Bigger, Longer & Uncut, Parker and Stone go up against their biggest enemy since going on the air: humourless parent's groups. Along with Stan and Kyle, the two foul-mouthed Colorodians are also represented by the two foul-mouthed Canadians Terrance and Philip. The two characters are not necessarily a parody of South Park, but more-so how easily offended parents view South Park: a badly animated cartoon filled with low brow toilet humour consisting of flatulence jokes and swear words. It may have all of those things, but if people judge it without actually watching it, it's hard to get behind them. If they actually view it, they will find that South Park is satirical and not after all targets, but only those who deserve it. If they actually become offended by what they see, at least they are shown as less intolerant due to actually giving it a chance. Another aspect of parent's groups that Bigger, Longer & Uncut so wonderfully shows is its ability to blame others for their own mistakes. South Park is not intended for children, yet they still manage to find a way to watch it. Instead of blaming Parker and Stone, they should sit down, switch off the television and talk to their children. Sending angry letters to networks and studios that don't read them or waging war with a country which is just providing innocent entertainment isn't going to do any good. Instead, these people are actually giving Parker and Stone more publicity and more targets to make fun of.

Then again, if it weren't for the parent's groups, there wouldn't be this marvelous film. Trey Parker and Matt Stone are the two most brave comedians in the television and film business and their magnum opus is the delightful, but meaningful Bigger, Longer & Uncut. This is not just an animated comedy. It's a musical, a message film and an attack on judgmental adults everywhere.

The South Park boys trying to sneak into the film-within-a-film.
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