SOUTH PARK: BIGGER, LONGER & UNCUT (1999)

Review by Derrick Carter

Running Time: 1 hour 21 minutes

MPAA Rating: R for Pervasive Vulgar Language and Crude Sexual Humor, and for some Violent Images

SouthPark poster

Directed by: Trey Parker

Written by: Tray Parker, Matt Stone, Pam Brady

Voices of: Trey Parker, Matt Stone, Mary Kay Bergman, Isaac Hayes, George Clooney, Dave Foley, Eric Idle, Mike Judge

A common problem with turning a TV series into a movie is that the film version might wind up feeling like an extended episode of the show. Trey Parker and Matt Stone definitely have a knack for comedy. Their long-running animated comedy series SOUTH PARK has only grown in quality over the years. Each season comes funnier than the last. SOUTH PARK: BIGGER, LONGER & UNCUT was released midway through the third season of the popular animated satire. As a result, it feels as if Parker and Stone are trying too hard to push boundaries in their early years and only care about throwing as many outrageous things on the screen for the sake of being offensive. There’s social commentary in BIGGER, LONGER & UNCUT that holds plenty of relevance to this day, but some of it gets bogged down in this feeling like an elongated episode of the series.

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It’s a beautiful Sunday morning in the quiet little mountain town of South Park. Stan, Kyle, Cartman, and Kenny are heading to the movie theater for the brand new Terrance & Phillip film. This popular flick is a heavily profane R-rated comedy from two Canadian actors and the boys are denied tickets due to the Restricted MPAA rating. They sneak in any way. Three hours later, they walk out with a whole new vocabulary of curse words and creative combinations of swearing. As any kid in this situation would, they unleash these newly learned phrases on their fellow peers. Soon every child across the country has seen the R-rated comedy that was never intended for children to begin with. The outraged adults look to blame anyone but themselves for their children’s misbehavior and Canada becomes their target. A war is brewing between the USA and Canada, all while the possibility of Hell literally rising on Earth is growing. It’s up to the band of potty-mouthed friends to save the day.

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One thing I’ve noticed about Parker and Stone’s humor is that it’s fantastic in small doses. Don’t get me wrong. I can and have watched episodes of SOUTH PARK for hours on end. Everything from the fifth season forward has been comedy gold. However, if too much time is spent on certain storylines, then the jokes wind up becoming tiresome and overstaying their welcome. A good example of this in the series is the three-episode story-arcs that come every few seasons. There are brilliant moments in each, but overall I kind of wish that these storylines would conclude faster than they do. This all being said, SOUTH PARK is a series loaded with crude humor and social commentary. There are points being made behind all the stupidity. In BIGGER, LONGER & UNCUT, Parker and Stone tackle the hypocrisy of the MPAA Ratings board (apparently, this film had a long-running battle with the organization and received its final R rating only two weeks before the release) and freedom of speech. The jabs at the hypocritical organization and people looking for an easy scapegoat are more than a little well-deserved.

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The jokes range from hilarious to a little lame. The latter being shown in a homosexual relationship between Satan and Saddam Hussein. It’s supposed to be dumb, but I didn’t find it very funny. It was overplayed and the running gag just felt stupid. The biggest laughs come in the promising first third through some clever bits of dialogue and insults. You can almost feel the point where the movie begins to run out of steam and get dragged down from great to the level of alright. It’s not nearly as solid as you might expect walking into a SOUTH PARK movie. The same thing being said about jokes can also be said for the musical numbers. The series has quite a few songs, so does this movie. Some of these musical numbers come off as either trying too hard or not being that funny to begin with. The best songs also come in the first third of the film. BIGGER, LONGER & UNCUT starts off really strong and concludes in a thoroughly mediocre way.

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I did enjoy the no-holds-barred approach being taken and the extreme lengths that some jokes would go to for a laugh. The war on Canada segments have deliberate echoes of wars past (including shipping off Canadian-born US citizens to death camps…I mean, happy camps). A few short-lived celebrity cameo voices are thrown in for good measure too (George Clooney appears for a few minutes as a doctor treating Kenny). Trey Parker and Matt Stone never seem afraid of pushing boundaries and taking risks. That’s exactly what they do every step of the way in BIGGER, LONGER & UNCUT. Some of them pay off and others don’t.

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SOUTH PARK: BIGGER, LONGER & UNCUT is essentially just one long episode of the series. This idea may entertain some, but when I watch a movie based on a TV series, I expect a storyline slightly grander than what you might see on the small screen at home (e.g. THE SIMPSONS MOVIE). Rest assured, SOUTH PARK makes every possible use of its R rating from an absurd amount of profanity to graphic nudity and disgusting sexual innuendos. The plot needs some work though, especially with the lackluster final act. Parker and Stone have drastically improved their animated series since it’s inception over a decade ago, all while nailing satire in far more interesting ways (e.g. THE BOOK OF MORMON musical and TEAM AMERICA: WORLD POLICE). SOUTH PARK: BIGGER, LONGER & UNCUT is a strictly fans only affair. Even then, some fans might just want to stick to watching half-hour episodes on TV.

Grade: C+

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