After a string of generic animated films in cinemas, I found a VHS in my attic-bound collection with a little more bite than Rio and Hop. It was, of course, none other than Trey Parker and Matt Stone's South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut.
This high quality VHS was apparently on a Buy 2 Get 3rd Free offer in Blockbuster. It's hard to believe they're going out of business with deals like that on the shelf. Even better, it also looks like the purchase of this second-hand video tape gave 10p to some cats. Let it never be said that South Park did no good in the world.
Of course, people often have said that - which prompts Parker and Stone to take arms in their viciously sweary satire of American censorship. Just look at its friendly sticker warning your parents of all the ways it could warp your fragile little mind:
Animation AND comedy? Whoah. Slap a 15 certificate on that, bitch.
Of course, the rating of the film plays perfectly into the film's tiny little stop-motion hands. It is, as you would expect, full of f-words, s-words and c-words. And it isn't afraid to use the dreaded BS (Barbara Streisand) if it has to. But while there are 399 profane words used in the movie (still not as many as Casino), the violence is only described by the BBFC as "occasional" and "mild" - that's despite an almost non-stop stream of violent acts. No wonder South Park felt the need to tackle America's obsession with swearing.
Not that this is a serious movie. For every subversive point that hits home, there's a childish dig at The Baldwins ("Hey Alec, you know what sucks about being a Baldwin?" "What?" "Nothing!") or Cartman making a Jew joke.
That one got used a lot in our house when I was a kid.
In a typically self-referential way, South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut focuses on the effect a Terrence and Phillip movie has upon Kyle, Stan, Cartman and Kenny's quiet mountain town. Sneaking into the cinema to see the R-rated TV spin-off, we soon get to enjoy the Canadian duo's classic rendition of the song Uncle Fucka. It takes a lot of effort to resist just writing the words out here off by heart. But needless to say, there's an inspired bit of fart scatting halfway through.
After seeing the Terrence and Phillip movie, swearing increases across the town's youth population, and so Kyle's over-protective Jewish mother does the rational thing: she takes the country to war against Canada. After all, it's clearly all their fault, what with their evil flapping heads, stupid accents and Bryan Adams. In fact, the song Blame Canada was so accurate that it even got nominated for an Oscar.
Whenever I get annoyed about The King's Speech beating The Social Network, I look at this.
The Oscar nomination isn't that surprising, really. This is clearly better than Celine Dion's My Heart Will Go On:
It's around this point that you remember just how good the soundtrack to South Park's movie is. The songs are catchy, memorable, hilariously foul-mouthed (Kyle's Mom's a Bitch is a real highlight) and they even manage to fit together into one big medley. And that's why I argue South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut is one of the best musicals ever made. Yes, even better than High School Musical. Does High School Musical teach you how to swear without offending the neighbours or speak in latin? No. This is educational stuff.
Ok, it's not quite up there with Singin' in the Rain (there are misses as well as hits), but the music does feature such poetical phrases as "donkey raping shit eater" and witty rhymes like "You don't eat or sleep or mow the lawn / You just fuck your uncle all day long". Stephen Sondheim probably craps himself every time he hears it.
And then there are the epic visuals that Parker brings in to complement the traditionally shoddy appearance of the familiar characters and locations. Taking us down into hell, some decent bursts of CGI have a strong impact - especially when seen alongside Satan and Saddam Hussein bumming each other in bed.
Yes, they killed off Saddam nine years before we got round to it. And made Satan his bitch. That's sophisticated political satire, right there.
But best of all is the brilliance of experiencing the South Park movie on VHS. Released in 1999, around the time I was buying my first DVD (The Mummy, seeing as you asked), the video is crammed full of adverts for the revolutionary new format that has "twice the picture quality of VHS" (according to the bloke with the annoying voiceover) and fits it all on "one disc the size of a CD".
Don't believe it? Just look at the bloke whose mind has been blown by the experience of seeing one of these new-fangled "DVDs".
"Wow," I thought. "Tell me more..." The annoying voiceover man did.
It seemed that a whole host of incredible films were available on these "DVDs". Films like Con Air, Lethal Weapon 4, and Armageddon. Best of all, I even caught a glimpse of a terrifying new DVD, which seemed to be some kind of hybrid between Face/Off and The Exorcist.
Clearly, this film must be made NOW.
And as if that wasn't enough to make my viewing of South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut on VHS even more intense, the video cassette came with a stark warning that "DVDs", these terrifying harbingers of future home entertainment, were so powerful that even the mere act of watching one could destroy my house.
What happens when you watch a DVD.
Anyway, enough of this scare mongering and back to the video tape in question.
A crude reminder that animation is a form and not a genre, South Park's movie is one of the most lewd concoctions ever spewed onto video. And that's definitely a good thing. A brilliant precursor to the hysterical Team America, it should be watched on VHS for optimum enjoyment. But whatever format you blow up your bedroom with, if you don't like South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut, you're probably nothing more than a donkey raping shit eater.
South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut is available from Blockbuster on a Buy 2 Get 3rd VHS Free limited offer. Alternatively, you can buy it from your nearest charity shop and donate 10p to saving some cats.
south park bigger longer and uncut