You know, reflecting back on the 1990's way, way before the series became the long-running institution it is today, the craziest thing about "South Park" is really the fact that it exists at all!
Consider: you are the executive of a cable station that's still floundering a little in finding it's voice/main selling point. These two weird dudes from Colorado want to sell you on a series based off a crude, cut-out animated Christmas card they'd created about Jesus battling Santa Claus as four foul-mouthed little kids look on. The short had gained some attention on the Internet - but remember this is in the mid-90's. That's not a pitch for an immediately popular hit television show that would last well into arguable "Jeez, that show is still on?" years, that's a string of randomly generated words!
But "South Park" debuted in 1997 and hit the ground running, becoming an instant sensation. Since not all cable companies carried Comedy Central back then, a lot of us had to watch third-generation copies of tapes provided by friends who had Comedy Central and recorded the show. And this was still my primary way of getting my "South Park" fix back in 1999, when the fantastically titled "South Park: Bigger, Longer, Uncut" debuted in theaters. As it happens, this would be the first time I'd watched the film since college.
There are parts of this movie that are very of-the-moment and that play very differently now. As with "Beavis and Butt-Head Do America", I haven't got the slightest idea what a person who isn't old enough to remember the cultural environment in which "South Park: BLU" would make of certain gags. Furthermore, the show would be utterly incomprehensible to someone not already well-versed with the series.
Overall, "South Park: BLU" plays out almost exactly like a giant-sized early-season "South Park" episode. The animation is still crude and has not been significantly souped-up for the big screen - save for a few selected scenes that relish in over the top ridiculous CGI effects. The plot has some satire of real-life as it's hook, but the story progressively gets more and more bizarre from there. There are random vocal cameos that are funny mostly because they are so strange! (This is by far the greatest movie ever made where Nick Rhodes blows up David Foley.)
Ah, but then... you have the songs.
Holy sh*t, the songs.
The songs are fantastic. They are the main reason why I liked "South Park: BLU". As it happens, Trey Parker and Matt Stone cut their teeth on the insane "Cannibal: The Musical" and have since written excellent, hilarious songs for "Team America" and "The Book Of Mormon". "South Park: BLU" is the first time they got to really show their songwriting powers in a public forum, and nearly every review from the time cites the songs as the best part of the film.
Now having mentioned those songs, I will say that the best way to experience them by far is in the context of the film and that this is not a film for everyone. And I say that because there still exist people who can not get over the fact that animation is not always for children. These people make me very upset, but I'd figure I'd give them fair warning as they will probably have a conniption fit by the second verse of the second big musical number.
Every so often, some wag will write something with the
phrase, "The MUSICAL is BACK!!!" This is in spite of the fact that
movie musicals never really went anywhere. Just ask anybody who grew up
with the Bronze Age Disney movies. And having said this, as someone
who grew up with the Bronze Age Disney musicals, I can state that the songs in "South
Park: Bigger, Longer, Uncut" are every bit as good as those in "Beauty and the
Beast". Yeah, really!
Next up, we head a little ways into the 2000's with two bizarre live-action/animation combo films.
A Note: For a few days I will not be able to access my email,
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(It's cute how I act like this series of reviews has been popular at
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Sketch of the Day!
Truly the most wise of Earthlings.