This seems to be the year for comedies which take existing material and improve on it. The original “Austin Powers” film was a very good effort, but the recent sequel “The Spy Who Shagged Me” was excellent. Now the very good “South Park” TV series has been turned into the film “South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut”.
The result? Its more than excellent, its a classic – possibly the best, certainly the funniest and most daring film of the year so far. What makes this comedy stand out above the rest of the summer is the writing, this isn’t the boring family-safe humour (if you can call it that) you’ll find in Tim Allen movies, nor does it rely solely on puerile gross-out sex or excrement jokes.
This is a sharp political and social satire which gets gags out of some extremely bad taste jokes which are very bold and are constantly being thrown at you at a fast pace (I can think of at least five which I wouldn’t repeat on this page). Nor does it target one specific group, but goes out of its way to offend almost everyone – Americans, Canadians, women, blacks, jews, gays, religious types, over-protective parents, abortion supporters, the army, the French, the Germans, fecal fetishists, war veterans, Microsoft – the list goes on and on.
All this swirls around the central theme of how censorship and that old standby conservative line “think of the children” can be so very destructive – a topic which isn’t just thrown to the ground, but constantly pumelled to make a very valid point. Newcomers who’ve never seen the show may be a little confused, but its very accessible to them and the stand-alone nature means you don’t have to be a regular watcher of the show to get the full enjoyment out of the movie, if you’ve only seen say 2 episodes you’ll understand who everyone is and what they’re doing.
The first half hour is a non stop swear-a-thon which will have you gasping for air from laughing so hard, the humour is absolutely non-stop. By about the 25-30 minute mark though the shock value of the swearing gags has worn off, but the creators realise this and move on – replacing some of the crude language with far more outrageous offensive jokes which don’t come flying as thick and fast, but are more shocking in their impact and are still being thrown at you at a higher rate than every other comedy this season.
One big difference between the show and the film is about the dozen or so superb musical numbers, a few of which resemble songs in recent Disney numbers (eg. Satan’s “Up There” resembles the “Part of That World” song from “The Little Mermaid”). Then again when did you ever hear a Disney song entitled “Shut your fucking face Uncle Fucker”. All these songs are new bar one, Cartman’s classic “Kyle’s Mom’s a Bitch” from the first season – but that is expanded upon to give it an ‘international’ flavour (you’ll see what I mean when you see it).
There’s also money for some big screen FX – a ‘descent into hell’ scene is spectacular, though hell itself has the slightly cheesy look as it did in the “Spawn” movie. Religious groups are going to be very unhappy with the portrayal of Satan – an emotionally complex but sweet-hearted demon who just wants to live on Earth and whose questioning whether his constantly horny partner Saddam Hussein is just using him for sex & power.
The 80 minute running time means we only get to see some of the other great supporting characters from the TV show, even Mr. Garrison and Chef only get in a few good lines. But the celeb cameos are great, I’m not sure what Winona Ryder is gonna say after seeing this.
Only a handful of movies based on TV series turn out to be any good. “South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut” joins that prestigious and very select club of films such as “The Fugitive” which takes a great TV series and expands it into an even better film. Now the only question is how the hell are they going to top this?