‘South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut’ – One of the Best Musicals Ever!
Walt Disney Pictures has released many classic animated movies over the years, but none of them compare to the sheer anarchic lunacy of Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s “South Park: Bigger, Longer, & Uncut.” While “Beauty and the Beast, “Aladdin” and “The Lion King” have given us songs not easily forgotten, so many other Disney animated musicals have only stayed in our minds for so long before they are easily forgotten, 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 (or the MPA as it is known as these days), hypocrisy, and of various musicals we all grew up with.
One does not have to be a fan of “South Park” to enjoy this movie. The characters of Stan, Cartman, Kenny and Kyle are introduced to the audience in wonderful fashion through the opening song “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 a homeless guy to be their adult guardian. It sure saves on the anxiety of getting caught and kicked out of the theater by that one usher who actually bothers to follow the rules.
All four of them love “Asses Of Fire,” and this movie could be seen as the way parents view “South Park” on Comedy Central. The song “Uncle Fucka” ends up outdoing anything Parker and Stone ever did on the show. Hilariously profane without setting any limits for decency’s sake, it sets off this powder keg of a musical in an unforgettably hilarious style. Stan, Cartman, Eric, and Kenny brag of how cool they are for seeing Terrence and Phillip on the silver screen, and they gleefully spout off the vulgar profanity from the film to the shock and delight of their fellow classmates.
But it does not take long for their parents to discover what their kids 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 the parents here 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, and also because, you know, why not?
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 completely 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, and those in power are quick to criticize them and suggest legislation to limit what they seem as their immoral influence for no good reason other than to put the more conservative population of America (a.k.a. white people) at ease.
Kenny also gets a bigger part than he ever had in the television show 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 of him in popular culture have led us to believe. But 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 actually did in real life. 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 Saddam Hussein, let alone groups of parents?
This movie also satirizes those most famous of Broadway musicals such as “Les Miserables” on top of all those Walt Disney animated musicals we were raised on. In the process, both Parker and Stone, along with composer and lyricist Marc Shaiman, created the best musical Hollywood has seen in years. The songs are brilliant and insidiously, let alone gleefully, inspired as they stay with you long after you have finished watching this particular animated classic.
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 “You’ll Be in My Heart,” or “What Would Brian Boitano Do?” For me, however, the real showstopper here is “Uncle Fucka” in which Parker, Stone and Shaiman deign to portray from their critics’ point of view of how the critics view the show “South Park” as opposed to the rational way any other decent human being would. Perhaps it might be easy to say that the music and songs here are brilliant because of the uninhibited profanity on display, but each song gets at a deeper meaning beneath its shamelessly filthy lyrics.
The other great thing about this “South Park” movie is how it is proof Parker and Stone 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 they both resisted Paramount Pictures urging to tone things down and succeeded in taking the show beyond the stifling confines of television. Seeing them stick to their guns is highly commendable, but perhaps it should not be seen as a surprise as they go after everything and everyone, and the show no hesitation in biting the hand that feeds them (Comedy Central).
All these years later, “South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut” remains uproarious as ever. The MPAA (a.k.a. the MPA) 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. Thankfully, this is not a motion picture that can be easily 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 television 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. But, like Kenny, if it ever does die, it will eventually be resurrected sooner than we think.
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