[box cover]

South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut

Paramount Home Video

Starring the voices of Trey Parker and Mary Kay Bergman

Written by Trey Parker, Matt Stone, and Pam Brady
Directed by Trey Parker

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Wise-asses Trey Parker and Matt Stone teetered on the edge of two deadly, disappointing film genres when adapting their popular, crude animated cable TV comedy series South Park for the big screen. Movies based on TV shows usually take the lackluster approach of dressing asinine plots with familiar catch-phrases, and the whole genre of feature-length animation seems locked in a dull struggle between cute Disneyfied merchandising-strategies and the heartless cultish appeal of Japanese Anime.

Miraculously, in South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut, Parker and Stone fall into neither trap and instead have created a brisk, creative, near-ingenious mixture of potty-humor, vulgarity, and unusually shrewd cultural and social satire.

South Park is a quiet, little, white-bread, redneck mountain town, which, like The Simpsons' Springfield, is quintessential America — a lethal mixture of feigned-innocence and unlimited intolerance that brings the earth precariously close to the Apocalypse.

Our four grade-school-age heroes — Stan, Kyle, Kenny, and vile, corpulent little bastard Eric Cartman — sneak their way into an R-rated movie by coarse Canadian comedy team Terrance and Phillip, from which they emerge with an infinitely expanded vocabulary of nasty words. Their parents and teachers try to persuade them from such base language, but the film's influence is too great. When Kenny dies imitating a crude stunt from the movie, the adults of South Park wage war not only on Terrance and Phillip, but on Canada as a whole.

With this premise, Parker and Stone launch a blisteringly funny attack on pop culture and the hypocrisy of moral and cultural fascism, and they manage to creatively lampoon just about every known film genre in the process. Their top target, however, is the Motion Picture Association of America's ratings board, who condemn sex and cursing disproportionately to images of extreme violence.

But South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut doesn't excel merely in content; its simple style of animated geometric cut-outs is a wonder of art direction, bringing refreshing color schemes and subtle textures to the form. The depiction of Hell may be the most chilling on celluloid.

The only drawback to the film is its overriding joke of swearing children does wear thin into the third act, but Stone and Parker ably invent bizarre and shocking new phrases and plot twists to keep it humming through its slight 80-minute running time.

Composer Marc Shaiman's musical sequences (hilarious lyrics aside) are expertly crafted, affectionate spoofs of familiar Broadway formulas, and they stick in the craw long after the end credits. Most of the voices are provided by Parker and Mary Kay Bergman, with cameos by George Clooney, Minnie Driver, Eric Idle, and Isaac Hayes.

Presented in a bright 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer and both Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0 Dolby Surround. Despite rumors of hidden extras, this one only includes trailers. Keep case.

— Gregory P. Dorr

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