Wednesday June 30, 1999
You'll hate yourself in the morning. Still, "South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut," in which the little kids with the big eyes and foul mouths save the world from intolerance and Saddam Hussein, is so gleefully vulgar, so eagerly offensive, it's tough not to get down on all fours and beg for more.
As the title suggests, the half-hour animated sitcom, which has been playing on cable for almost two years, has been cut loose from its only marginal restraints on Comedy Central and allowed to fulfill the promise of its nasty, untidy vision--which includes a gratuitous streak of misogyny and more than a trace of hackneyed homophobia. Like a Colorforms set as designed by Lenny Bruce, or "Children of the Damned" as directed by Howard Stern, "South Park" the movie is a lot more clever than it is subtle.
But it is smart. And neither its timing nor its attitude could be better, given the cultural hand-wringing post-Littleton or the self-serving sanctimony of partisans on either side of the movie morality debate.
The fun starts when South Park's resident angst-ridden midgets--Kyle, Stan, Cartman and Kenny, who not only dies but goes to hell--attend the R-rated "Asses of Fire" starring Canada's Terrence and Phillip (who are so deliriously vulgar they make Cartman seem like Noel Coward). When the boys emerge even more uncontrollably foul-mouthed than before, their mothers, led by the Queens-accented Sheila Broflovksi, declare a cultural war on Canada. This leads to the imprisonment of Terrence and Phillip, armed conflict, the threat of global annihilation and the preeminence of Satan himself who turns out to be basically a nice guy on the losing end of an exploitative sexual relationship with Saddam.
Forming their own "La Resistance" and bolstered by a blatant parody of "Les Miserables" and the anthemic faux polka "What Would Brian Boitano Do?," the boys have to save the world from sanctimony and itself.
A lot of the laughs in the movie spring from the virtual torrent of vulgarity teeming off the screen, but it probably says something that language can still shock us, even if it has to be in mass quantities. The irony is that "South Park's" target audience, the one that's too young for its R-rating, will probably get into the film, but won't get the whole picture--part of which is a total mockery of the ratings system itself. It's hardly Paramount's fault, but had this been an independent movie, history suggests it would have been slapped with an NC-17.
That the Terrence and Phillip movie is R-rated is a laugh, but the fact that it's within another R-rated movie is even more pointed. The idea that even Satan is less evil than Saddam Hussein is a shot at the politics of demonization; that Cartman gets a V-chip implanted in his head and then continually zaps himself with his own expletives is hilarious. And that a war should break out because Sheila Broflovksi thinks her kids--or any kids--could remain innocent in this culture may be the biggest joke of all.
Director Trey Parker and his producing-writing partner Matt Stone share most of the voice-over chores (Mary Kay Bergman voices most of the women). Brent Spiner is credited as Conan O'Brien, Minnie Driver as Brooke Shields, and Saddam is credited as himself; who knew his voice was so high? Must be the effect of the Kuwaiti oil fires. Elsewhere in "South Park" the Baldwin brothers are blown up, Bill Gates is shot and, as Kenny discovers, there are nude women in heaven. Somebody will have to tell him, because he's clearly too young for his own movie.
South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut, 1999. R for pervasive vulgar language and crude sexual humor, and for some violent images. Barbrady, various others Voices as . Trey Parker as Stan Marsh, Eric Cartman, Mr. Garrison, Mr. Hat, Officer.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times