Pottie Mouths from the North!
South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut
Review by Ross Anthony

Yes, it's offensive and rude and lewd and I don't feel comfortable with the idea that kids are probably going to have access to it, but ... man, it's funny!

I'd seen a few "South Park" episodes (the cable series) -- had a few good laugh, but never tuned in regularly. I liked the off-shoot (pardon the pun) film "Basketball," but found "Orgasmo" lacking. So I certainly had my doubts about how "South Park" (this underdog cartoon series that grew from a underground Christmas Special spoof) would take to the big screen. Would it look small? Would it look stupid? Would I have wasted my time? Simply put: "South Park" the movie takes to the screen like a rabid pitbull to a maceless, bare-butted postal carrier.

In an age where so much language is first cleared through politically correct filters; a film like "South Park" is a painful reminder of first amendment rights. Frankly, it's refreshing in a blatantly revolting way.

Don't get me wrong, I strongly feel that it's good not to offend people. However, there are also times when we begin to take our wonderful differences too seriously; seeing them as topics to be avoided as not to accidentally offend. We sometimes lose our good humor, choosing to be impersonal rather than impolite. Not only can that dilute truth and artistic license, but we may actually be making ourselves easier to offend. Perhaps, it's a good thing to let people make fun of us from time to time -- a shot in the arm.

Though I don't think they do it for any other reason than to confuse their attackers, creators Matt and Trey make another point: "It appears that to the American public horrific gory violence is acceptable viewing material -- but naughty language somehow crosses the line." It's a very third-grade remark, not unlike "Why punish me? Look what Timmy is doing!!!" Still ... it really got me thinking. Should we be that upset if our children swear? I contemplated that question. If my kid is good and loving, and non-violent -- should I care if he swears? Perhaps, I too, am stuck in tradition. The fact is I do care ... and, if I were you I wouldn't take my kids to this movie. (In all fairness, I wouldn't take them to "Pulp Fiction" either.)

What it's about:
Underneath a thick layer of pottie-mouthed grade-schoolers, PC-crushing offensive humor, and sex scenes with Saddam Hussein, "South Park" the movie is all about its own controversy: namely censorship. Canadian movie stars (animated characters): Terrance and Philip (never at a loss for a fart joke) play out the saga of Matt and Trey under fire for corrupting the youth of America.

"South Park" in their own words:
MS: You could say it's about the struggle for basic, inalienable freedoms in the face of oppression, but you'd sound like a jerk.
TP: Just read "Moby Dick" and every time you come across the word "whale" replace it with "Canadian".

What every parent should know:
There is A LOT of swearing. And not just the usual "F" and "S" word and every conceivable combination thereof ... but, variations on these themes so colorfully creative that you'd be hard pressed to think of any other verbal projection you'd hate worse to pass into your child's ear. In fact, you'd probably rather have a wasp get caught up in there than these obscenities. These guys are experts -- they earn millions making cute little cartoon characters swear like you and me with lit bottle rockets up our shorts.

It's the contrast that strikes the funny bone with a guilty chord:
"South Park" (the movie) is a musical (Parker's band writing most of the lyrics). They set your heart warmly pumping with that magical "Disney feeling" just to swat you like a blood engorged mosquito. The humor is furthered with a third contrast -- sincerely intriguing and profound thoughts. In "sensitive" Satan's big number he sings ... "Without evil there can't be good, so it's got to be good to be evil sometimes." And in another buoyant ditty delicately entitled "Blame Canada," America goes so far in looking for outside causes to condemn for its own children's bad behavior, that good old fashioned parenting somehow gets overlooked as a viable response to the situation.

Done very well...
The Heaven and Hell sequences. George Clooney's cameo. The integration of music. The fast pace and high energy. And ...you'll leave the theater thinking about this movie and issues it speaks to for a long time.

Weakest link:
After a while, the verbal obscenity strings lose their shock value and ironically, perhaps like "Clockwork Orange" (hinted at in the film), actually may make some viewers sick of swearing.

My last word:
"South Park" is an explosively funny, openly offensive, shockingly unsettling movie that surprisingly makes some poignant statements about a 1990's America. It teases and pokes at our favorite Pandora's boxes and then rips their lids off without hesitation. It specifically ribs various racial and gender groups so graphically, that one might easily miss the biggest butt of the joke -- 20th century America. Not only that, but it has already spoofed our responses before we speak. If you truly don't like that sort of thing: then don't see it, don't talk about it, and raise your children well. If you choose to protest, you'll just be fueling the flames.

Written by Trey, Matt and Pam. Directed by Trey.
Produced by Matt Stone and Trey Parker at Warner Bro's/Paramount/Comedy Central.
Rated R -- Eek, don't let kids watch!


Copyright © 1999 Ross Anthony, currently based in Los Angeles, has scripted and shot documentaries, music videos, and shorts in 35 countries across North America, Europe, Africa and Asia. For more reviews visit: RossAnthony.com

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Last Modified: Saturday, 16-Sep-2006 07:54:06 PDT