Walt Disney Pictures has released many classic animated movies over the years, but none of them compare to the sheer anarchic lunacy that is Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s “South Park: Bigger, Longer, & Uncut.” “Beauty and the Beast, “Aladdin,” and “The Lion King” only stay with you for so long, and they only dream of being as tuneful as this 1999 animated musical. It takes advantage of its big screen format to mercilessly satirize the MPAA, hypocrisy, and musicals of different kinds.
One does not have to be a fan of “South Park” to enjoy this movie. The characters of Stan, Cartman, Kenny, and Kyle are wonderfully introduced to the audience through the opening song of “Mountain Town,” and they go off to the local movie theater for the opening day premiere of “Asses of Fire,” a Canadian film starring their favorite comedy duo of Terrence and Phillip. They are however denied admission as the movie has been rated R by the ever reliable MPAA. But instead of paying for a PG-13 movie and sneaking into “Asses of Fire,” they pay off a homeless guy to be their adult guardian. It sure saves on the anxiety of getting caught and kicked out of the theater!
All four of them love “Asses Of Fire,” and that movie could be seen as the way parents view “South Park” on Comedy Central. The song “Uncle Fucka” ends up outdoing anything Trey and Matt ever did on the show. Hilariously profane without setting any limits for decency’s sake, it sets this powder keg of a musical off in hilarious style. Stan, Cartman, Eric, and Kenny brag of how cool they are for seeing Terrence and Phillip on the big screen, and the four kids gleefully spout off the profanity of “Asses Of Fire” to the shock and delight of their fellow classmates.
But it doesn’t take long for their parents to discover what they’ve been up to, and they end up doing what just about any loving parent would do; blame someone other than themselves. Parental hypocrisy is one of the big targets of “South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut” as they all refuse to take any sort of responsibility for their children’s behavior. Instead, they launch an all out war against Canada as Terrence and Phillip originated from the country.
Kids are far more of aware of hypocrisy when it confronts them, and in many ways this movie is seen through the eyes of a child. Their parents’ intention to obliterate a country just because a comedy duo inadvertently taught kids some utterly hideous words is utterly ridiculous, but so was George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq. The media, movies, and music are such easy targets even though they are emotional outlets; they are quick to be legislated for no good reason other than to put the more conservative population of America at ease.
Kenny also gets a bigger part than he ever had in the “South Park” as he (of course) dies and ends up going to hell. When he arrives, he meets Satan who is far more vulnerable and sensitive than various depictions have led the world to believe. The bigger problem though is Satan’s boyfriend who is none other than Saddam Hussein as he is shown to have died years before he really died. Saddam treats Satan like crap while Satan begs for him to be an affectionate partner in all things love. Satan also does his “Little Mermaid” number of how he yearns to be “up there” on Earth and above ground. Where else can one find Satan be more kind hearted than groups of parents?
The “South Park” movie also satirizes those most famous of Broadway musicals like “Les Miserables” on top of those Walt Disney animated musicals including “The Little Mermaid” and “Beauty and the Beast.” In the process, both Trey and Matt (along with American composer Marc Shaiman) created the best musical Hollywood has seen in years. The songs are brilliant and stay with you longer than any Disney classic could ever hope to.
Seriously, after watching “South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut,” who can forget songs like “Blame Canada” (which should have won the Best Original Song Oscar over Phil Collins) or “What Would Brian Boitano Do?” For many, the real showstopper is “Uncle Fucka”, which Trey, Matt and Marc portray from the point of view of the way that critics of “South Park” see the show as opposed to the way that they see it. It would be easy to say that the music’s brilliant because of the uninhibited profanity on display, but each song here gets at a deeper meaning beneath its seemingly filthy nature.
The other great thing about this movie is how it’s proof that the creators of “South Park” did not sell out. They could have made this into a PG-13 comedy and would have made three times more money in the process. But Trey and Matt resisted Paramount Pictures urging to tone things down, and they succeeded in taking the show beyond the stifling confines of television. Seeing them stick to their guns is highly commendable considering that many others in their position would have probably buckled under the movie studio’s demands and never escape the fear of what they could lose.
Over ten years later, many of the fights satirized in “South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut” remain as strong as they were before it came out. The MPAA remains an overly conservative bunch of hypocrites who give NC-17 ratings to movies for all the wrong reasons, and parents continue to blame others for the ills of their children and society. At the same time, this film’s legacy lives on and is not being relegated to the Disney vault for an “anniversary release” twenty years into the future. Trey Parker and Matt Stone still fight the good fight, and the big screen version of their brilliant TV show became a brilliant musical, which later led to others like “Team America” and the Broadway smash “The Book of Mormon.”
Like Kenny, “South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut’s” legacy will never die.