By AMY NICHOLSON
By ALAN SCHERSTUHL
By CAROLINA DEL BUSTO
By AMY NICHOLSON
By STEPHANIE ZACHAREK
By R. Scott Moxley
If you have a hard time understanding why South Park is popular, go see the movie and arrive early enough to sit through the previews.
At my screening, we were treated to a couple of trailers for scary films, which we could tell were scary because they were loud and lightning was flashing while music from the Rob Zombie soundtrack was playing and some people were getting killed, though not the stars because stars never die—not unless they can be resurrected and hang around as wacky guys who can still have sex and make things move and expose the big government conspiracy. And then we saw something about teenage boys who want to have sex, and they do crazy things to have sex, and Smash Mouth is singing about having sex, and we know that despite their crazy antics and the fact that they are trying to have sex with high school girls who are 26-year-old supermodels, they will have sex while Jewel sings about ponies. And then we saw something for Runaway Bride, a new romantic comedy because the American people cannot go 16 minutes without a new romantic comedy; this one stars Julia Roberts and Richard Gere, and it turns out they don't even like each other in the first part of the movie, but pretty soon, an elderly woman says something about sex and that makes everyone think, and Julia starts looking at Richard with that look she gave Hugh Grant and Nick Nolte and Kiefer Sutherland and Mel Gibson and Dennis Quaid and anybody else who can open a movie, and then Richard starts looking at her with a grin that says he's all man, and then some cute, meaningful things happen in perfect light and Peter Gabriel/Melissa Etheridge/Sheryl Crow sing about windows, and Gere and Roberts fall in love, and we knew that they would and not just because they've been on Access Hollywood/ Entertainment Tonight/Showbiz Today/Live With Regis and Kathie Lee/Rosie/ Oprah/Good Morning, Terre Haute telling everyone that they'd fall in love or that all the research for their part made them "really appreciate what a serious problem plague is," but because we know that our stars fall in love over and over and over and over and over and over and over, and that's why South Park is popular. (Steve Lowery)
I had high expectations for South Park. I've always been susceptible to gags involving guys getting tossed around a room and crashing into stuff. There's something about the buffoon flying through the air, flailing his arms and screaming like someone was poking hatpins into his toes. Then there's the point of impact—a loud bang, usually involving something metallic. Then a lot of trash and stuff gets thrown around. Even better is when the body tumbles down a flight of stairs. Now that's entertainment.
Parker and Stone's previous work had been promising in this regard. Their film BASEketball was loaded with a short, skinny idiot guy who spent half the movie airborne, smashing into garage doors, looking into a pit bull's drooling jaws and flailing down a hospital dumbwaiter.
So what was up with South Park? I counted two very brief scenes involving Terrance (or was it Phillip?) blown across a room. Sure, it was funny when his own flatulence catapulted him into a drum set, but nothing followed it up. What a disappointment. (Anthony Pignataro)
One after another, I heard belabored songs warbled by every character in the movie except the one I wanted to hear most: Chef. The character voiced by Isaac Hayes barely makes a cameo in the movie, and his funkified opuses are sorely missed, not to mention the whites of his eyes. I can't remember an episode of South Park in which Chef doesn't sing and/or give some cartoon babe some good lovin' like the bad motherfu—shut your mouth!—but I'm talking 'bout Chef. We can dig it. Instead, I got creamy Broadwayesque tunes served up on white toast from the mouths of toonies who can't sing. Damn, if I wanted that, I'd rent Titanic. Where was a song like "Suck on My Chocolate Salty Balls" when you needed it? Chef got the shaft on this one. (CJ Bahnsen)
The South Park movie was vulgar, crude, completely profane and just made me hate my parents. I mean it—had my dutifully disciplinarian mom and dad not exacted swift punishment when I gave in to my baser impulses as a child, I might have grown up and written a film like Bigger, Longer and Uncut, and I would have made a fortune.
But noooooooo! I wasn't allowed to cuss, and I had to go to catechism. And I had to say, "Excuse me" when I got flatulent (which was all the time). And I wasn't allowed to "ritually murder neighborhood cats." Had my folks maybe been a little more understanding and allowed me to explore such realms as racism, scatology, Satanism and sexual deviance, I just might have made South Park before Trey Parker and Matt Stone.
Understand, however, that it is not out of bitterness that I now pan Bigger, Longer and Uncut. The film did an admirable job of pulling out all the stops to live up to the offensive reputation of its TV counterpart. It's just that after about the first half-hour, the novelty of cute, construction-paper obscenity wears off and makes the rest of the film seem like the series' second season: anticlimactic.
Perhaps I would have enjoyed it more had I taken my folks. (Tim Meltreger)
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