October 22, 2009

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South Park is now an institution. Something to take for granted. The show struggled early on after it became a breakout sensation, but now it’s there, always there. You know what Trey Parker and Matt Stone are going to do to a certain extent. Their comic rhythms are familiar, and they know how to tell a joke. The fun in revisiting the movie is that Trey Parker obviously loves musicals, and he made one with his film. My review of South Park: Bigger Longer and Uncut after the jump.

South Park Bigger Longer and Uncut Blu-ray.jpgThe film concerns the four boys, Kyle, Stan, Cartman and Kenny as they get to see the Terrence and Phillip movie “Asses of Fire.” In it, the Canadian duo swear like sailors, with the hit single “Uncle Fucker.” Seeing the movie leads Cartman to challenge Kenny to light his farts on fire, and the act of doing so kills Kenny. This leads Cartman’s mom on a crusade which eventually leads to a war against Canada, while her adopted Canadian son Ike hides in the attic. Kenny goes to hell where he befriends Satan, who’s been dating Saddam Hussein. Hussein is all about going back to Earth to rule, but Satan dreams of a happier place (in his musical number “Out There,” perhaps the most charming section of the film). And Satan knows that if they kill Terrence and Phillip, his minions of death can rule over the world. Kenny then must try and stop the war before it happens by contacting Cartman.

A convoluted plot, all things, the film starts with a huge in-joke, as the film South Park – where the characters are finally allowed to swear – starts with its characters going to see a movie about the exact same thing. Here also the boys indulge in cameos like never before, as George Clooney, Dave Foley, Brent Spiner, Minnie Driver, and Eric Idle all provide voices. It’s also obviously an early work in the franchise as the nurse with the conjoined fetus on her head makes an appearance, there’s a big number for Big Gay Al, Mr. Garrison still has Mr. Hat, and Chef is still involved (he tells Stan the way to a woman’s heart is through the clitoris, but won’t explain, which is a runner in the film), and there’s no Butters. But it’s also still a funny movie, and surprisingly well structured. Team America was infinitely more scattershot in its approach, whereas here the boys keep things moving at a very quick clip, and when it comes to the film’s West Side Story homage as all the songs from the main characters overlap, the craft of the parody transcends the dick and fart jokes the show is famous for.

South Park Bigger Longer and Uncut (3).jpgBut Parker and Stone talk about throwing everything at this film because they thought that South Park would be over before they knew it. This came after the second season, which they label as disastrous, and they thought the phenomenon would be over sooner rather than later. And so they really did make a personal, fully committed musical. They also created the character The Mole, which is one of the bleakest and funniest characters in the history of the show. I hadn’t seen the film in nearly ten years, but it holds up, better than most of the episodes from that time, that’s for sure.

Paramount presents the film in widescreen (1.78:1) and in  English 5.1 Dolby TrueHD. The transfer is excellent, though Parker and Stone bag on their craft at the time. Their facilities have gotten that much better and the quality of their animation has improved a great deal over ten years. They joke about pulling a Lucas on the film. The main extra is a commentary with the duo, and because they don’t talk about their intentions, they keep bringing in guest commentators, including much of the animation staff (who repeat a number of the same anecdotes) and then Bill Hader. There’s a DVDA music video for “What Would Brian Botano Do” that may or may not have had any involvement from Parker and Stone. The film also comes with three trailers.

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