Film Review: South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut
In 1999, Trey Parker and Matt Stone released South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut, based on the television series, South Park by Parker and Stone. Starring Parker, Stone, Mary Kay Bergman, Isaac Hayes, Jesse Howell, Anthony Cross-Thomas, Franchesca Clifford, Bruce Howell, Deb Adair, Jennifer Howell, George Clooney, Brent Spiner, Minnie Driver, Dave Foley, Eric Idle, Nick Rhodes, Toddy E. Walters, Stewart Copeland, and Mike Judge, the film grossed $83.1 million at the box office. Nominated for the Academy Award for Best Music, Original Song, the American Cinema Foundation E Pluribus Unum Award for Feature Film, the Annie Awards for Outstanding Individual Achievement for Writing in an Animated Feature Production, Outstanding Individual Achievement for Voice Acting in an Animated Feature Production, and Outstanding Achievement in an Animated Theatrical Feature, the Las Vegas Film Critics Society Sierra Award for Best Animated Film, the Motion Picture Sound Editors Golden Reel Awards for Best Sound Editing – Animated Feature, the Online Film and Television Association Awards for Best Animated Picture and Best Music, Adapted Song, the Village Voice Film Poll Award for Best Film, and the Satellite Award for Best Motion Picture, Animated or Mixed Media and Best Original Song, the film won the Chicago Film Critics Association Award for Best Original Score, Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Music, the motion Picture Sound Editors Golden Reel Award for Best Sound Editing – Music – Animation, the MTV Movie Award for Best Musical Performance, the Online Film & Television Association Award for Best Music, Original Score and the Online Film Critics Society Award for Best Original Score .
After Cartman, Kenny, Kyle, and Stan sneak into a weekend screening of Terrance and Philip’s new movie, Asses of Fire, they take the large amount of obscenities from the film and cause trouble. Soon, the parents of South Park are led by Kyle’s mother Sheila, starting a culture war that results in the arrest of Terrance and Philip and a war between the US and Canada. To kick start the war, the government plans to execute Terrance and Philip during a USO show which allows Satan to cause the end of the world.
A notable parody of musicals during the time of the original Disney Renaissance, South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut is an interesting and fun to watch film with Parker and Stone continuing their trend of using the characters to bring about satirical messages. One aspect of that is they use the film to portray the dangers of censorship. In order to make it so their children are protected from foul language and other content not age appropriate, the parents of South Park decide the best course of action is to ban anything that they deem inappropriate. However, they start becoming the moral guardians for the entire town, deciding what is age-appropriate for everyone in the town itself which spreads to the entire country and sparks a war with Canada. It’s a fascinating look at how Parker and Stone view censorship, namely that it may start off with the best intentions but quickly devolves into deciding what’s best for everyone based on the whims of the few.
The film also presents a satire of parenting, with the majority of the parents in South Park believing they’re great parents by shielding their kids which is contrasted with how the kids believe their parents are doing a terrible job. This contrast can be seen in two different songs, the kids sing “Mountain Town” at the beginning and say that “movies teach us what our parents don’t have time to say,” showing that the kids are taking life lessons from movies due to their parents not taking the time to actually be parents. At the same time, the mothers in Mothers Against Canada sing “Blame Canada” where they mention that they have to find someone to blame before anybody blames them for being bad parents, displaying that they know how they aren’t good parents but don’t want to take responsibility for their failures and just want to find scapegoats. Sheila in particular embodies this as she’s always looking for someone else to blame when Kyle does something wrong since she just wants a good kid.
The film also has three great villains in the way of Satan, Saddam Hussein and Sheila with the three of them being all over the map in the way their villainy is portrayed. For one, despite being the Prince of Darkness, Satan really isn’t all that evil. In fact, he’s actually pretty kindhearted, submissive and easily manipulated by Saddam, who is actually the one spearheading the plan to invade the earth through his wily cunning and manipulation. Saddam is a great liar as well, seen when he’s singing “I Can Change,” where he continually says he can change, but never says he will and when he shouts that he’s changing, he just breakdances. Finally there’s Sheila, whose continual actions justify Cartman’s song about her. She’s the one that leads Mothers Against Canada, which also features her hypocrisy since she has a Canadian son, and willingly guns down Terrance and Philip in front of the kids simply because she wants to be right. What’s interesting is that while all the other people in Mothers Against Canada quit during the war, it takes literally unleashing the bowels of hell for her to recant.