South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut (1999)

(In theaters, July 1999) Strip away the obscenity, the crude animation and the deliberate shock value of this film and you’ll still end up with one of the wittiest social satires of recent memory. Of course, that’s no surprise to devotees of the show… who will find that South Park is one of the rare movies to actually improve on its source series, in this case by going miles beyond the accepted limits of TV. Make no mistake: This is one offensive movie. But it’s also one of the funniest of 1999, and justifies its vulgarity with some actual meaning, unlike other gross-for-gross-out so-called “comedies”. Further adding to the hilarity are the snappy songs and the occasional parodies (like Cartman’s mock-anime fight!) Sure, not every joke works and the second half of the film doesn’t pack as much punch as the first, but still… who could have guessed that South Park would end up being lauded by critics? Canadian viewers should be tickled pink at the constant references to Canada, which pretty much encapsulate what we all suspected about our reputation south of the border.

(Second viewing, On DVD, January 2002) “Uh-oh” says the tagline for this film, and that’s also pretty much my reaction when viewing the film two years and a half after its theater run. Don’t get me wrong; I still think it’s a terrific satire, a remarkably effective comedy that courageously takes on important subjects in a highly subversive fashion. (Indeed, the 1999 script’s “War on Canada” rhetoric is chillingly close to the “War on Terrorism” propaganda dished out in early 2002.) Furthermore, “Uncle F*cka” is still the best original movie tune of 1999. But the film has not aged well already; once the delightful shock of the film’s vulgarity has passed, the film’s more boring passages become painfully evident. Some of the material is simply dull or annoying once stripped of its shock value. Worse of all, the film’s overall subject matter isn’t as urgent as it once was. Good film, still, but not the classic it could have been had it exercised a touch more subtlety. The DVD doesn’t have much in terms of extra features, though the French soundtrack is a new comedy experience for those used to the original: “Il faut blâmer/le Canada!”

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