Welcome to this blog of my film reviews. Some have been drafted carefully on paper, others I have sat and typed. I'm going to make it clear right now that I don't expect you to agree with my (re)views, or to like my style of writing. However, I want my views to be just out there and open, as a person who wishes to express himself from deep within. Feel free to comment and debate with me, but I do ask that you are civil and not harsh, as any comments which are basically swear words and insults will automatically be deleted. Also any text that is in orange (and often bold) is a Hyperlink to either a source, or a previous post for background reference.
Monday, 18 April 2011
South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut
After seeing the latest Terrance and Phillip film, the kids of South Park can't stop swearing. Angered by this Kyle's (Matt Stone) mother (Mary Kay Bergman) forces the government to go to war with Canada and have Terrance (Stone) and Phillip (Trey Parker) executed. Now Kyle, Stan (Parker) and Cartman (Parker) must lead a rebellion to save their heroes. Meanwhile, after dying (again) Kenny (Stone/ Mike Judge) ends up in Hell and finds out Saddam (Stone) wants to force lover Satan (Parker) to bring hell to Earth as the war means it is surely the right time.
Having been a fan of South Park (1997-) for quite a while and having seen a good number of episodes when I learnt that this held the World Record for most use of a swear word within a film I was not at all surprised. South Park has always been a lot cruder and more politically incorrect than The Simpsons (1989-), and even Family Guy (1999-2002, 2005-), so if you've watched the cartoon series, you know exactly what to expect from the film, only on a much larger scale. As always the cartoon characters - who are cut out of paper as the series opening credits have always emphasised - flow through the entire running time smoothly, and keep their greatly contrasting personalities, brought to hilarious life by the voice cast.
Naturally, Cartman is the crudest, his harsh tongue and profanities are well written so that he is always entertaining. Stan and Kyle are not as funny, naturally, but the comedy from them comes from the huge contrast they have in behaviour to Cartman, which is genuinely a major contrast. Surprise factor comes from Kenny, though, who (in the two and a bit series that came out before the film) is little more than a prop created for running gag usually. In Hell Kenny is like an Agony Uncle to Satan who hates Saddam's scheme, and the idea that a kid who hung out with Cartman could be so sensitive is just so clever and such a surprise - I guess Kenny contrasts Cartman more than Stan and Kyle - and we get to see Kenny without his hood, which rarely happens in the series. One has to question why Kenny would end up in Hell if he is ultimately such a sensitive soul, and the conclusion is that like most cartoons South Park goes against the Gospel and makes it out to be good deeds that get you into Heaven - clearly cartoon writers have never read the Bible, or if they have don't believe a word of it - in which case one can just conclude that years of hanging out with Cartman lost Kenny a place in Heaven.
Ultimately one has to admire Parker and Stone for being so daring in their screenplay, but one can't help but think they went a little too far. After the first three hundred swear words one just wants them to stop with the swearing and use words that are recognised by a 1990s' dictionary.
And also, for my generation, the subplots involving Saddam and Satan are a bit too tasteless. In the '90s Saddam was still alive and in power, a major threat to much of the world, so the idea that he could actually be a bad-tempered homosexual midget would have appealed to many and seemed a hilariously interesting contrast to the real-life Saddam. But in this century the Second Gulf War began, Saddam was hung, war against the Taliban in Afghanistan began, and hundreds, if not thousands, of soldiers have lost their lives, so for someone who has been saddened deeply by it all for over eight years now, it's just rotten luck that I watched this film first time round in 2009, and was sickened by this characterisation of Saddam. Were I ten years older I'd have seen it in 1999, when first released and would probably have laughed my head off.
As for how the character of Satan is written, I, as a Christian, am just glad that for once a cartoon is going out of its way to take the mick out of Satan instead of God. However, the fact that Satan is such a wimp here, scared by Saddam, despite having immeasurable powers of evil, I do disagree with, as Satan is a powerful force of pure evil, yet to fight the Satan of this film would be like Mike Tyson vs. a limbless individual in the ring.
Although there are many laughs to be had in this film, the screenplay is still quite flawed and tries to pack in too much into an hour and a half. One, however, can't help but admire the daringness of the screenplay, even if they do take it too far, and it is ultimately classic South Park, so if you are a fan of the series it is definetly worth a viewing. If you are easily offended, then maybe not.
Stars: Trey Parker, Matt Stone, Mary Kay Bergman, Isaac Hayes, Mike Judge, George Clooney, Brent Spiner, Minnie Driver, Eric Idle, Dave Foley.
Oscar nomination: Best Original Song (Blame Canada - Trey Parker, Marc Shaiman).