The notoriously naughty youngsters of controversial animated
_South_Park_ have hit the big screen, and if you're a living, breathing,
flesh-and-blood human being, chances are that there will be at least one
thing about this _Bigger,_Longer_&_Uncut_ adventure that you will find
completely, totally offensive. No one is safe: women, Jews, blacks,
gays, Canadians--not even fans of the series itself are free from
co-creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone's all-encompassing satirical net.
Not even non-fans such as myself can escape, for this relentless,
envelope-obliterating comedy is, quite simply, one of the sharpest and
funniest films one is likely to see in this or any other year.
The _South_Park_ series never had more than a negligible novelty value
for me; after 15 minutes, not only did the TV-MA crudity of the language
and subject matter get old, but so did the restrictions of being on basic
cable. To me, Parker and Stone always seemed to be on to something but
were never quite allowed to get there; though they operated under more
relaxed standards at Comedy Central, those were standards nonetheless.
In the R-rated arena of the big screen, all bets are off, and Parker and
Stone take full advantage of the freedom to take aim at everyone and
everything, in any way they see _un_fit.
So it should come as no surprise that their long list of mercilessly
skewered targets includes, among others, the aforementioned groups as
well as figures such as the Baldwin brothers, Bill Gates, Barbra
Streisand, and--to the delight of many an audience member--Jar Jar Binks.
What is surprising is, though, is that perhaps their most prominent
target is themselves. In a refreshing, smartly self-referential twist,
_Bigger,_Longer_&_Uncut_'s plot revolves around the effect that an
R-rated animated feature has on the familiar four of Stan Marsh, Kyle
Broflovski, Eric Cartman, and the perpetually ill-fated Kenny McCormick
(all voiced by either Parker or Stone), as well as the rest of the young
population of South Park. With all the gradeschoolers now cursing
bluestreaks around family and foulmouthed friends, Kyle's mom (Mary Kay
Bergman) decides to take drastic action, setting off an outrageous chain
of events that comes to involve Saddam Hussein and his bedfellow--in
_every_ sense of the word--Satan himself.
To run through many more of those burned along Parker and Stone's
gleefully politically incorrect way would not only be pointless and
boring, but it also would spoil too many of the film's stinging jokes.
But one target worth mentioning is the reigning king of animated
features, Disney. _Bigger,_Longer_&_Uncut_ is just as much a satire of
the Mouse's sacred animated musical Formula as it is _South_Park_ itself.
Stan's opening number is an affectionate, if very tongue-in-cheek,
send-up of _Beauty_and_the_Beast_'s classic curtain-raiser "Belle"; there
is even an earnest, heart-tugging "I Want" power ballad. Parker's
uniquely absurdist twist on the latter is that the tune is soulfully
crooned by Satan. There is more to Parker and Mark Shaiman's (who
composed the instrumental score) songs than just witty context and
bitingly hilarious lyrics; the melodies are genuinely infectious.
Impossible though it may seen, a song bearing the says-it-all title
"Uncle Fucka" is just as memorable for its toe-tapping tune as it is its
proudly profane lyrics. (OK, maybe not _as_ memorable, but the catchy
melody also lingers long in the mind.)
_South_Park:_Bigger,_Longer_&_Uncut_ will undoubtedly draw the ire of
many a political group as being a sterling example of the "impure" state
of popular entertainment today. Is the film inappropriate for children?
YES; they don't come much more adults-only than this one. Is it
offensive? Indeed it is. But peel away the profuse profanity and
go-for-broke comic abandon, and the film ironically reveals a message as
wholesome and constructive as any G-rated film could offer: take
responsibilty for your children, in what they do and in especially what
they watch--certain films are designated as being for adults for a
reason. The even greater irony is that a lot of parents looking for a
film "for the family" are certain to pay less attention to
_Bigger,_Longer_&_Uncut_'s R rating than to the fact that it is "a