SOUTH PARK: BIGGER, LONGER & UNCUTR
For anyone wondering why they should spend nine dollars to watch in a movie theatre what they can see for free on basic cable, Trey Parker and Matt Stone have a one-letter answer: F. Or, to be more sensationalistic about it, South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut offers a parade of profanity. A cornucopia of cursing. Expletive ecstasy. Dolby Digital surround-sound swearing. It's the f-word, ladies and gentlemen, energetically and repeatedly delivered as if discovered for the first time. That's because, as far as 'South Park' goes, a new discovery is precisely what it is. Full-fledged profanity to Parker and Stone (and co-writer Pam Brady) is like a brand-spankin' shiny new toy dropped into the hands of an eager kid. Except, unlike most kids with new toys, these kids show absolutely no signs of tiring of it. Early on, at least, in this 'South Park' feature film, they play with their new toy with a devil-may-care joy and gusto that's contagious. There are few things as exciting as watching someone truly letting it all hang out, audience be damned, but at some inevitable point, the act is going to get tired. The plummeting ratings of the Comedy Central TV show were starting to indicate that, but now Parker and Stone have new territories to mine with the freedom of an R rating-heavy cursing, explicit sexuality and nudity, and gory violence. South Park: BLU (a perfect acronym) has it all, but what it does with them is a different story.
How any particular audience member reacts to 'South Park,' movie or television, depends entirely on the specific nature of their sense of humor. For me, I grew tired of the TV show in a hurry. The potty-mouthed antics of the four central elementary-school characters, Stan, Kyle, Cartman and the perenially perishing Kenny, weren't nearly inspired or varied enough for me to stick around-the joke of little kids behaving blue is a relatively lazy and easy one, and no matter how many times you repeat it, it's still the same joke. I experienced the same evolution of enjoyment watching the movie.
With a modicum of cleverness, Parker and Stone plot out their film to comment on the outraged societal reaction the show has encountered since making its cultural waves. The four tykes bribe a homeless man into buying them tickets to an R-rated movie called Asses of Fire, featuring Canadian comedy sensations Terrance and Philip, a duo whose entire act seems to consist of repeating in song and speech the phrase 'uncle-f***er.' It opens up a whole new world of expression to the kids, and in no time the whole kid collective in the small suburban town are using the word profusely, with the adults reacting quickly and over-aggressively. But once the story is established, the rest of the plot, concerning the parents' reaction to the newborn crassness of their kids by waging a war on Canada, a dominant-submissive relationship between Saddam Hussein and Satan (guess who's the dominant one), and many, many musical numbers, has the sort of self-consciously wacked-out haphazardness that reads much funnier on paper than it does played out on animated construction paper.
It is abundantly clear that Parker and Stone desperately want to be, or at least appear to be, subversive, but for the most part, this is kiddie subversion, literally and figuratively. Peppered throughout the movie are a few glancing blows of effective social satire (including one particularly clever bit called Operation Human Shield, a strategy in the war against Canada assigned to the platoon of soldiers led by the show's Isaac Hayes-voiced Chef), but the subversive religious streak supposedly running through the TV show isn't in much evidence here. For the most part, Parker and Stone are perfectly content in keeping the kids cursing. But while putting dirty words in the mouths of babes may be a fresh gag for the TV-bred 'South Park' boys, it's hardly new to film comedy. Repeatedly going to that well as if it were can only render the effect innocuous-a result any true rabble-rouser should be avoiding like the plague.