South Park: Bigger, Longer, & Uncut (1999) – Directed by Trey Parker – Starring Trey Parker, Matt Stone, Mary Kay Bergman, Isaac Hayes, George Clooney, Brent Spiner, Dave Foley, Minnie Driver, and Eric idle.
There are not five movies in existence that I have seen more times than SOUTH PARK: BIGGER, LONGER, & UNCUT.
It’s one of my go-to movies, and I give it a spin for a whole host of reasons: because I’m in a good mood, because I’m in a crappy mood, because I’m raging against something, because I’m celebrating something, because I want to laugh … and on and on. And every time I watch it, I get drawn right back in.
If you’ve been hanging around the Anxiety for any length of time, you know I don’t like Top Ten lists. Top Ten lists are the epitome of transitory thinking, but they’re heralded as definitive statements. I have no faith in reading them and no desire to make them. That said, I’m not unaware of films that I really like and when pressed I can can create one. I mention all of this for the following reason:
If I were to make such lists, BIGGER, LONGER, & UNCUT would make the Top Ten lists for my all-time favorite animated films, my all-time favorite comedies, and my all-time favorite musicals.
Which should pretty much tell you this is one of my all-time favorite movies.
UNCUT successfully transitions the residents of South Park, Colorado onto the big screen because it never pretends it isn’t a movie; that is, Trey Parker and Matt Stone aren’t simply making you pay to watch the TV show on a bigger screen. UNCUT is a conceived and executed as an actual film, and brilliantly, Parker and Stone have chosen to fill all of these extra minutes with songs.
And they’re good songs. Heck, they’re bloody brilliant songs.
More than anything, it’s UNCUT’s songs that get me coming back over and over again. Catchy, clever, sometimes vulgar and raunchy, Trey Parker and Marc Shaiman’s songs are top notch, offering as many quality sing-a-longs and toe tappers as any musical down through the years. “Blame Canada” got the Oscar nomination (it lost to a Phil Collins song from Tarzan), but “Mountain Town,” “Uncle F*cka,” “It’s Easy, Mmmkay?,” “Kyle’s Mom’s a B*tch,” “What Would Brian Boitano Do?,” “Up There,” and “La Resistance” are all winners and they display a compelling mix of styles and lyrics.
“Mountain Town” starts as a quiet solo from Stan Marsh, but as he moves through the town he’s singing about to pick up his three friends Kenny, Kyle, and Cartman so they can go see the new Terrance and Phillip movie Asses of Fire, he also picks up singers as the song builds into an ensemble piece about life in the “quiet, redneck town.” I love how the song is decidedly upbeat; the lyrics of the verses enforce this positive vibe, while the seemingly negative connotations of the words in the chorus come off as loving and self-deprecating, acknowledging the negative aspects of their town but also loving the town for it.
The song also acknowledges the power of cinema, as the kids sing, “Off to the movies we will go / Where we learn everything that we know / ‘Cause the movies teach us what our parents don’t have time to say,” and what the kids learn from Asses of Fire is how to swear in amazingly creative ways. Soon, most of the kids at school have seen the film and those that have are using the words freely. Too freely, it turns out, as Cartman ends up swearing a few too many times at Mr. Garrison. This leads to their parents being called in, which leads to their moms forming the “Mothers Against Canadians” (M.A.C.) group, which ends up leading the United States to declare war on Canada.
It’s an insightful bit of the parents playing the blame game, while not completely dismissing the influence movies have on people. Parker and Stone aren’t saying that movies should be held blameless (Asses of Fire is rated R and the kids have to get a homeless man to buy them their tickets), but that the mothers’ reaction to the kids foul language goes completely overboard. Instead of blaming their kids, or blaming this individual movie, Kyle’s mom leads the charge to, well, as the song says, “Blame Canada.”
As the two neighboring nations prepare for, there’s another plot taking shape down in Hell, where Satan is readying to attack the surface if the blood of the captured Terrance and Phillip is spilled, as planned. (The U.S. military is going to execute them.) Satan’s got his own problems to deal with as his lover, the deceased Saddam Hussein, is turning out to be an incredible dick. Saddam is emotionally abusive towards Satan, wanting only to have sex and get ready to take over the world when they ascend.
Satan is a highly emotional dude. (At one point he’s in bed with Saddam reading a book entitled, Saddam is from Mars, Satan is from Venus.) He gets advice from the deceased Kenny, who tells him he has to man up, but he lets Saddam off the hook, believing Saddam’s song and dance number, “I Can Change” to be sincere. “I Can Change” is a decent enough song, but it’s Satan’s song, “Up There,” that’s the real emotional powerhouse of the second half of the film. Satan years to live “up there,” on the surface, where he believes he could find happiness.
Stan, Kyle, and Cartman form La Resistance to counter M.A.C. and they plan on … making prank phone calls. There are plenty of moments scattered throughout UNCUT where you’re reminded that for all the shots the film makers are taking, these are still kids. Stan wants to form La Resistance because Wendy is hanging out with Gregory, a new kid who’s very political. When Stan, Kyle, and Cartman get the kids to come out to their secret meeting, Stan’s big plan is to make prank calls and order pizza for unsuspecting targets. It’s Gregory who comes up with the plan, though Stan insists they’ll be taking the risks.
The rescue attempt goes awry and Kyle’s mom kills Terrance and Phillip, allowing Satan and Saddam to rise up and start a war of three armies. Cartman saves the day when his V-Chip malfunctions. The chip was put in his head under the orders of M.A.C. and gives him a shock whenever he says a naughty word. When the chip malfunctions during the war, he realizes he can shoot the shock energy at people. To stop Saddam, he unleashes a whole string of filthy words.
Satan repays Kenny by granting him a wish and he chooses to have everything go back to the way it was before the war. This means he’s still dead, but now he gets to go to Heaven, where big-boobed, naked angels wait for him.
SOUTH PARK: BIGGER, LONGER, & UNCUT is a hilarious, dirty, rousing animated musical. It contains a whole slew of repeatable one-liners: “Hmmm … sorry, I don’t have any Jewish candy,” “I don’t listen to hip-hop,” and “Kick the baby!” and it offers up plenty of sharp social critiques. It is definitively one of my favorite movies.