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'South Park': Potty Jokes and Satire

By Rita Kempley
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, June 30, 1999; Page C10

  Movie Critic

The outrageously profane "South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut" takes wicked whacks at targets ranging from Saddam Hussein to the notion that the entertainment industry is chiefly to blame for the pollution of kids' culture. And although some will see this rude, crude comedy as the work of Satan himself, others will see the sharp, wildly funny social satire behind the profanity and potty jokes.

Speaking of the Devil, much of this madcap frolic takes place in Satan's flickering domain, to which Kenny – the hooded little munchkin killed in every episode of the TV show – is consigned after death. The imp can't help but notice that Satan is unhappy with his lover, Saddam himself. The sex is hot, but Satan wants a more meaningful relationship (has he been watching too much "Ally McBeal"?), a yearning he expresses lustily in a soaring love ballad, "Up There."

Trey Parker and Matt Stone, co-creators of the Comedy Central series, and co-writer Pam Brady often advance the plot through an outrageous collection of show-stopping tunes, many of them parodies of the lavishly overproduced numbers in Disney's glitzy animated features. Irate parents vent their rage in "Blame Canada." And when the kids run into a problem they can't solve, they think of Canada's greatest ice skating star and ask the musical question, "What Would Brian Boitano Do?"

A triple lutz probably.

The insanely frenetic plot hinges on growing hostilities between the United States and Canada. Our neighbors to the north stand accused of corrupting American youth through the auspices of Terrance and Phillip, a Canadian cartoon duo whose new R-rated movie consists entirely of four-letter words and fart jokes.

When the "South Park" kids sneak into the picture (they pay a homeless guy to buy their tickets) they graduate from potty- to sewer-mouths. "That movie has warped my fragile little mind," says Cartman. (It's so bad, his mom subsequently has him equipped with a V-chip that delivers an electric shock whenever he curses.)

Soon, every third-grader in South Park has slipped past the theater managers, and flatulistas Terrance and Phillip are arrested. Now Stan, Kyle and Cartman must save the gas-driven actors lest Satan loose the four horsemen of the Apocalypse. Hey, it may not make sense, but does it matter when the barbs are this sharp?

While censorship is the filmmakers' main target, Parker and Stone also poo-poo Hollywood elitism, jingoism, racism, homophobia, Winona Ryder, Bill Gates and Conan O'Brien. Their favorite monster is the Motion Picture Association of America, self-appointed guardians of the nation's chastity. It's all in good dirty fun and in service of their pro-tolerance theme.

"Bigger, Longer & Uncut" introduces TV's enfants terribles to the movies with low-tech panache and surprising smarts. But it's most definitely not for the tots.

"South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut" (80 minutes, at area theaters) is rated R for profanity and crude humor.

© Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company

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