While it may not be as big a deal as it was when the boys from Colorado first dragged their construction paper cartoons onto TV screens in the late 90s, South Park is certainly still as bold as it ever was. Some claim that it only pushes the boundaries of taste, and there’s no doubt the series has made a name doing just. They’re wrong. South Park is frequently a politically and socially incisive show that remains relevant, hiding its genius behind a walk of offensiveness.
And the best example of that is still South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut.
The feature film debut of the four foul mouthed boys appeared on big screens in 1999. Having only debuted on small screens in 1997, South Park took hold of the cultural zeitgeist quickly and creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker have continued to milk it for all its worth.
In the film, the boys sneak into an R rated movie featuring their favorite Canadian comedians, Terrance and Phillip, where they learn a lot of bad language. Kyle’s overbearing mother uses this as an opportunity to bring the biting rage of censorship down on the heads of the Canadian duo, which naturally leads to an all out war between the US and Canada that plays right into the hands of Satan and Saddam Hussein. Oh, and it’s a musical.
As usual with South Park, there are some very heavy undertones to the movie behind the crass comedy. At its core, Bigger, Longer & Uncut is about censorship and the dangers of the totalitarian ideals it leads to when you censor media out of fear. If you choose to look past that crass humor, you will find one of the best commentaries on modern censorship available. And many of the points the film discusses are salient today, particularly with a media cycle that is increasingly censored and manipulated in ways often unknown to the public. Beyond that, Bigger, Longer & Uncut is also about parenting and the dangers of letting media raise your children for you instead of paying attention to them yourself. Rather than listening to and working with their children, the parents of South Park set forth on a crusade against the media they believe to be polluting those kids instead of talking to them about media, which only makes things worse.
Praised for its political commentary and social discourse, Bigger, Longer & Uncut was a success at the box office both monetarily and with critics. Given that success, it’s a surprise that Stone and Parker have not produced another South Park film, though Basketball and Team America: World Police were amazing in their own ridiculous ways. They have continued producing season after season of great content for the TV series so there is no shortage of South Park for fans. It was also a success in the sense of it being a stellar musical, something we’ve seen more of in projects like the smash Broadway hit The Book of Mormon. One of Bigger, Longer & Uncut’s songs was even nominated for an Oscar, which led to an over the top performance of “Blame Canada” by Robin Williams as well as Stone and Parker wearing some interesting dresses to the ceremony.
And if you’re into their kind of comedy, South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut is a fantastically funny film. If not, it’s still worth watching for the sake of socio-political discourse. And the fart jokes. You can’t forget the fart jokes.