First off, I have to make a correction to MORIARTY'S RUMBLINGS FROM THE LAB from Tuesday. Seems the evil genius, decided to cause evil money pains for movie geeks in the L.A. area... Hoping to incite a riot, thus distracting the city police force long enough to pull a daring daylight invasion of the Warner Print Vault to make off with EYES WIDE SHUT. And while I appreciate his scheme... I'll be damned if he see's the movie before me. So...
Admissions for the CLASSICALLY INDEPENDENT FEST this weekend are $8 per screening, not per evening!
There... Take that you evil genius!!!! Now onto his review of SOUTH PARK!
There... Take that you evil genius!!!! Now onto his review of SOUTH PARK!
Hey, Head Geek...
You'll have to excuse me if I sound a little on the irritated side this evening. You see, I'm trying to calm down. You know how it is when someone really, really pisses you off and you've got that shaky, too-much-adrenaline feeling, right? A little bit sick, a little bit hysterical, with just a touch of a headache. Well, that's me right now. You see, earlier tonight, I was here in the Labs, just relaxing with the henchmen as we planned a full weekend of mayhem. I'll be the first to admit I was in a good mood, but that still doesn't excuse the henchman who said, "Y'know, Professor, you really aren't all that Evil these days, are you?"
The room went silent, and the other henchmen all scurried for cover. "What did you say?" I asked, giving him every opportunity to correct his blunder.
"I said that for an Evil Genius, you really haven't been very Evil recently."
I thought it over for a moment. "Hmm... I see..." Then, before he could see the barely-repressed rage I'm sure was evident upon my face, I reached into my pocket and produced what looks to the casual observer like a large gold pocketwatch. In reality, I have the entire Labs hooked up to that remote, and I can do almost anything with it. In this case, a simple twist of the fob and a double-click of the hinged cover was all it took for a pair of robotic arms to sweep in and quickly, efficiently, and with maximum possible pain eviscerate my silly mutant friend, rendering his argument moot.
Now, as the smoke clears and the rest of the henchmen clean up the mess, I'm starting to believe I may have overreacted. I think the reason he made me so mad is because in some ways, he's right. I've been enjoying myself a lot at the theater lately. Some of you readers have written me to say that I've been having too much fun. Don't blame me, though. It's Hollywood's damn fault. They're the ones who are actually doing their jobs and making good films right now. Blame them, not me!
Besides, I've decided to reaffirm my dedication to doing real Evil in the world, and it's to that end that I kick off my review of the new SOUTH PARK: BIGGER, LONGER & UNCUT by confidently stating that this film not only deserves, but demands at least one major Academy Award nomination next year...
... and we'll get to that in a minute.
First, I'd like to state where I stand on the whole SOUTH PARK thing, since that seems to be a prerequisite for reviewing a comedy today. "Normally I hate Pauly Shore, but..." *Sigh* I think Trey Parker and Matt Stone are, just by themselves, independent of any project, pretty funny guys. I thought ORGAZMO was very funny. Didn't laugh once during CANNIBAL: THE MUSICAL. Really dig the first six episodes of the SOUTH PARK show and the original "Spirit of Christmas" short. I'm so-so on the rest of the series to date. Some highs (the whole Amazon jungle/"Getting Gay With Kids" episode was a riot) and some lows (if Jar Jar's that damn annoying, then why do a whole episode that's annoying just to make the point?), but it always seems willing to try anything in an effort to get laughs.
That willingness reaches a new high here, and it pays off in what I would say is the single funniest SOUTH PARK story to date, in any form. I laughed really, really hard throughout most of this picture. I will say that even when I didn't laugh, it wasn't because I was offended. There's something too gleeful about the shock effect in the film. How can you be offended by someone who's working this hard to offend? Some of my favorite moments in the film were jokes that crossed "the line" and got actual gasps instead of laughs. That's bold. That's worth paying for.
There's a few celebrity cameo voices -- Dave Foley, George Clooney, Brent Spiner, Minnie Driver, and Eric Idle -- but none of them are playing themselves. In fact, picking them out is pretty much impossible. Just to give you one example, Dave Foley shows up as the voice of all of the Baldwin brothers. Really. There's also appearances by most of the supporting characters the show has introduced since going on the air. The characters are all used well, with some of the more popular ones getting some very funny specific business. Big Gay Al has a showstopping musical number late in the film, Chef and his military preserve play a special role in the war with Canada, and Jesus, Jimbo and Ned get to suit up in Army greens as well.
It's the main four kids that carry the bulk of the film, though. Kyle, Stan, Cartman, and Kenny all give stirring performances. One thing we never knew about these talented young thespians until now is that they're singers, musically gifted one and all. The movie is, in the grand tradition of Disney, a musical, and it's a surprisingly good one. Oh, that's right... we're at that part of the review now. I get to tell you why SOUTH PARK should be Oscar nominated in the spring.
Marc Shaiman, you wicked, wicked man, you are almost as Evil as me. Only someone truly deranged would have written such a sharp, specific satire of each type of show tune. One after another, he trots out perfect parodies of each of the types of songs that we're so used to hearing drive the Disney films forward. You will not be able to resist humming "Uncle Fucka," "Kyle's Mom's A Bitch," or Satan's heart-warming ballad, "Up There." Even Sadam Hussein gets in a toe-tapper called "I Can Change." I know that reading these song titles in print must have you questioning my sanity or taste, but I sat in a theater tonight full of film press and college students, fans and nonfans, and I heard the audience go nuts for each of the songs. Not since I saw BEAUTY AND THE BEAST at the El Capitan in its opening weekend have I heard a full theater applaud not one, not two, but three seperate musical numbers. Shaiman wrote his songs with Parker and Stone, but the arrangements are his, and there's real wit in his work. Remember, everyone... the category is "Best Musical or Comedy Score." It's not "Best Score that Happened to be in a Movie We Approve Of." It's "Best Musical or Comedy Score." Here's a score that's an honest-to-God comedy musical. Shaiman does the arrangements for Billy Crystal's big show-opening song parodies, so it's clear the Academy approves of him. I'm going to bet they can't unclench their sphincters enough to nominate him, but I'm equally sure that they should.
There's some nice technical work in the film by Blur Studio, Inc. in Venice, who deserves credit for creating a better, more convincing version of Hell for this film than Mark Dippe was able to manage in SPAWN. The animation is, for the most part, exactly like the show, and it looks really nice on the big screen. I think I actually prefer seeing the characters this big, with a crowd. There was something really enjoyable about seeing them on the bigscreen. I think this is a more successful translation to film than BEAVIS & BUTT-HEAD made. Parker and Stone seem to have made this film as if they are never going to get a chance to make another.
Maybe it was the communal thing that made it so much fun tonight. That's frequently the case with comedy. Maybe Trey and Matt just ignored the show for a while in order to focus on the film. Maybe all the stars were in alignment. Who knows why it happened... but it did. Paramount deserves to have a hell of a run with SOUTH PARK. If you're not a fan of the show already, chances are you won't change your mind here, but for anyone who's open to this particular bent of humor, this is 90 minutes that will leave you hurting in all the right ways. Evil, man... real Evil. That's the highest praise I can give it.
Watch me work this weekend as I try and hit screenings of CHOOSE ME, RESTAURANT, DILL SCALLION (which I'm going to see with David Koechner, one of the film's stars), ARLINGTON ROAD, FIVE CORNERS, BROKEN VESSELS, and WILD WILD WEST. If you bump into me at any of these films and I seem a bit distracted, realize that I'm not sleeping between now and Monday. Be kind. Until then...