South Park: Bigger, Longer&Uncut review

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For the uninitiated, viewers of South Park fall into two camps. There are those who saw it a couple of times post-pub and dismissed it as an unfunny, juvenile, sub-Simpsons rip-off. Then there are those who watched it, loved it, bought the key rings, cuddly toys, spin-off singles and down-loaded the dialogue from the Web site to play ad nauseam to anyone who would listen - while rolling around in hilarity on the floor. Obviously this 'toon, whipped out in record time, is aimed at the latter, hopefully leaving enough time to knock off another one for a big Crimbo cash-in before the series - - already slipping in the ratings - - loses its cult status.

But South Park deserves more than its cult audience. It's got the humour of Something About Mary, the big musical numbers of South Pacific and the out-standing animation of... Okay, well the animation isn't exactly that great, but it does have a certain appeal. The Broad-way-style tunes, from Marc Shaiman, are rousing chorus numbers. And even when it feels like there're one too many of them, a funny line or sequence is always on hand to make it all seem worthwhile.

The gags are below the belt (in some cases, literally) - - and as juvenile as South Park's critics would have us believe - - but at their best, they're exceedingly funny. Foreknowledge of the series isn't necessary, but watching out for Kenny's death, hearing Cartman sing Kyle's Mom's A Bitch one more time and seeing Stan throw up on true love Wendy yet again are all funnier if you're waiting for them. Unfortunately for true fans, there're some startling omissions. Chef doesn't sing and gets less than five minutes total screen-time; Mr Hankie is absent; Pip is relegated to a minor bit-part; and the school-set material is limited. Of course, this is more than made up for by the first ever sight of Kenny unhooded.

Some gags do fall flat. Saddam Hussein is a soft target and figures heavily. Some of the dialogue slips by without impact and, despite attempts to open the animation up occasionally (like in Kenny's trip to Hell), it doesn't live up to what you'd expect from a big-screen spectacle.

It's also heavy on the stupidity of censorship. South Park's creators pushed the film to the limit in terms of what they could get past the censors... anal sex, the C-word and suggested substance abuse all ruined any chances of a kid-friendly certificate in the States; and characters regularly make gleeful references to this.

Still, if toilet humour and crudely-animated kids are your thing, then this is still damn funny.

Sick jokes, 2-D animation and rousing, four-letter-word-filled songs, all with the Parker/Stone spin. The best of their big-screen collaborations and, at 80 minutes, doesn't outstay its welcome. A treat for series fans, a guilty pleasure for everybody else.

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