South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut is a 1999 American adult animated musical comedy film based on the Comedy Central animated television series South Park. The film was directed by series creator Trey Parker and stars the regular television cast of Trey Parker, Matt Stone, Mary Kay Bergman, and Isaac Hayes, with George Clooney, Eric Idle and Mike Judge in supporting roles. The screenplay was written by Parker, Stone and Pam Brady. The film follows the four boys Stan Marsh, Kyle Broflovski, Eric Cartman, and Kenny McCormick as they sneak into an R-rated film featuring Canadian actors Terrance and Phillip and begin cursing incessantly. Eventually, their mothers pressure the United States to wage war against Canada for allegedly corrupting their children, giving Cartman, Stan and Kyle no choice but to unite the other children, fight their own parents, put both America and Canada back into control and rescue Terrance and Phillip themselves while Kenny tries to stop a prophecy when Satan and Saddam Hussein conquer the world.
The film tackles issues of censorship and bad parenting, and parodies the animated films of the Disney Renaissance as well as musicals such as the West End's Les Misérables, and satirizes the controversy surrounding the show itself. The film also heavily lampoons the Motion Picture Association of America; Parker and Stone battled the MPAA throughout the production process and the film received an R rating just two weeks prior to its release. A writing team consisting of Parker, Stone, and Pam Brady was assembled. They conceived numerous plot ideas, with Parker and Stone's being the one developed into a film. The film features twelve original songs by Parker and Marc Shaiman, with additional lyrics by Stone. The film was produced by Comedy Central Films, Scott Rudin Productions and Braniff Productions.
South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut was released theatrically in the United States on June 30, 1999 by Paramount Pictures, with Warner Bros. handling international distribution. The film received positive reviews from critics, with praise for the writing, soundtrack and themes. Produced on a $21 million budget, it went on to gross $83.1 million worldwide, making it the highest-grossing R-rated animated film of all time, until it was surpassed by Sausage Party in 2016. The song "Blame Canada" earned Parker and Shaiman a nomination for Academy Award for Best Original Song at the 72nd Academy Awards.
Stan Marsh, Kenny McCormick, Kyle Broflovski, and Eric Cartman go to a cinema to see Terrance and Phillip: Asses of Fire, which stars the boys' favorite Canadian comedy duo Terrance and Phillip. However, the boys are refused entry due to the film being R-rated, so they pay a homeless man to accompany them.
The following day, the boys begin swearing in class, and are sent to Mr. Mackey, the school counselor, who informs their mothers. Later, the boys see the film again, and Kenny bets Cartman $100 that he can set his fart on fire like Terrance in the film. Kenny immolates himself and ultimately dies, leading to Stan, Kyle, and Cartman being grounded. Kenny is sent to Hell, where he is tormented by Satan and Saddam Hussein. Back on Earth, the parents of South Park organize a boycott against Canada and Terrance and Phillip, which is led by Kyle's mother, Sheila. Terrance and Phillip are arrested as war criminals. When the United States refuses to release the duo, Canada retaliates by bombing the residence of the Baldwin brothers.
Sheila and President Bill Clinton announce that the United States will go to war with Canada and have Terrance and Phillip executed at a USO show. After overhearing Cartman leading the children in a song degrading her, Sheila has Dr. Vosknocker implant a V-Chip. The device gives Cartman an electric shock every time he swears. Back in Hell, Satan declares that if the blood of the two innocent Canadians touches American soil, he will invade Earth. Later, Kenny's ghost visits Cartman to warn him of the consequences of executing Terrance and Phillip. After failing to convince their parents, the boys decide to take matters into their own hands. They form La Resistance and Gregory tells Stan to recruit a God-hating French expert on covert operations named "The Mole".
La Resistance infiltrate the USO show, but The Mole is discovered and killed by guard dogs. The remaining boys attempt to warn their mothers about what will happen if Terrance and Phillip are killed, but they are laughed at, and Mr. Garrison activates the electric chair. A Canadian force attacks the base and a battle ensues between the two armies. In the confusion, the boys are able to free Terrance and Phillip, though Cartman's V-chip begins to malfunction. The mothers, seeing the destruction their movement has incited, decide to give up and look for their children.
Stan leads the kids to Terrance and Phillip, who have been cornered by the US army. La Resistance forms a human shield while Kyle tries to persuade the army and his mother against killing the two. Sheila refuses and shoots Terrance and Phillip, which results in Satan, his minions, and Saddam attacking Earth, with Satan personally telling Sheila just how badly she screwed up. As a result, along with a sarcastic wisecrack from Chef, Sheila regrets everything. Saddam tries to usurp Satan's authority, but after he insults Cartman and Cartman yells profanity back at Saddam, a bolt of energy shoots through his pointing finger and kills some of the minions. Realizing his power, and with Kyle's encouragement, Cartman starts using profanity to power himself up and shoot even more powerful electrical bolts at Saddam (a parody of Emperor Palpatine of Star Wars). During this, Saddam demands Satan help him and calls him vile words for not doing so, which finally drives Satan to throw him back to Hell and die on a stalagmite. Satan then grants Kenny a wish; Kenny asks for everything to return to how it was before the war, even though it means he will have to go back to Hell. He takes off his hood to say goodbye to his friends, but instead of returning to Hell, Kenny ascends to Heaven due to his act of sacrifice. Everything returns to normal in South Park.
- Trey Parker as Stan Marsh / Eric Cartman / Gregory / Satan / Mr. Garrison / Mr. Hat / Phillip Niles Argyle / Randy Marsh / Clyde Donovan / Tom – News Reporter / Midget In A Bikini / Canadian Ambassador / Bombardiers / Mr. Mackey / Army General / Ned Gerblansky / Christophe – Ze Mole (or The Mole) / Big Gay Al (singing voice) / Adolf Hitler / Additional Voices
- Matt Stone as Kyle Broflovski / Kenny McCormick / Saddam Hussein (credited as "Himself") / Terrance Henry Stoot / Big Gay Al / Ticket Taker / Stuart McCormick / Jimbo Kearn / Gerald Broflovski / Butters Stotch / Additional Voices
- Mary Kay Bergman as Liane Cartman / Sheila Broflovski / Sharon Marsh / Carol McCormick / Wendy Testaburger / Clitoris / Additional Voices
- Isaac Hayes as Chef Jerome McElroy
- Jesse Howell, Anthony Cross-Thomas & Franchesca Clifford as Ike Broflovski (Franchesca Clifford was credited as "Francesca Clifford")
- Bruce Howell as Man In Theatre
- Deb Adair as Woman In Theatre
- Jennifer Howell as Bebe Stevens
- George Clooney as Dr. Doctor
- Brent Spiner as Conan O'Brien
- Minnie Driver as Brooke Shields
- Dave Foley as the Baldwin brothers
- Eric Idle as Dr. Vosknocker
- Nick Rhodes as Canadian Fighter Pilot
- Toddy E. Walters as Winona Ryder
- Stewart Copeland as American Soldier #1
- Stanley G. Sawicki as American Soldier #2
- Chase Holt as American Soldier #3
- Mike Judge as Kenny McCormick (unmuffled)
- Howard McGillin as Gregory (singing voice) (uncredited)
South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut is a cautionary tale on the dangers of censorship. It uses the execution of Terrance and Phillip as the Seventh Sign in a parody of the Apocalypse. Cartman's use of foul language helps to avert the disaster. Parents and "lazy child rearing" come in for particularly sharp criticism. On their way to see Terrance and Phillip, the boys sing that "movies teach us what our parents don't have time to say!" During "Blame Canada" a couple are seen abandoning their baby in their enthusiasm to join Mothers Against Canada. The song ends with: "We must blame them and cause a fuss / Before somebody thinks of blaming us!" Much of the film's satire and many of the songs are concerned with the refusal of people to accept responsibility for failure and their tendency to look for scapegoats (some of the songs are also parodies of musical theatre, but this is usually secondary to furthering the satire). Movies, government, society, foreigners and Satan are all blamed, leading Kyle to remark: "whenever I get in trouble, you go off and blame everybody else. But I'm the one to blame. Deal with me." The movie is also self-reflective in nature. The enthusiasm the kids display for seeing the Terrance and Phillip movie reflects the creators' anticipation of the real world enthusiasm many people, including those under age, would experience to see the movie.
Developmental stages began for the film midway through the series' first season production in January 1998. Co-creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone signed a deal with Comedy Central in April 1998 that contracted the duo to producing South Park episodes until 1999, gave them a slice of the lucrative spinoff merchandising the show generated within its first year, as well as an unspecified seven-figure cash bonus to bring the show to the big screen, in theaters. A large part of Parker and Stone's conditions attached to any potential movie project was that it must at least be R-rated, to keep in touch with the series' humor and its roots, the short The Spirit of Christmas. Parker stated that their desire was to approach the film from a much more creative perspective and do something other than a simple movie-length version of a regular episode. Despite alleged pressure from Paramount Pictures officials to keep the movie toned down, the two won the battle for a more mature rating. "They really wanted to be able to go beyond the South Park television show," said Comedy Central spokesman Tony Fox to TV Guide at the time. "They really fought hard for and won the right to make an R-rated movie." Paramount executives went as far to prepare graphs displaying how much more money a PG-13-rated South Park feature would perhaps accumulate. The William Morris Agency, which represented Parker and Stone, pushed for movie production to begin as soon as possible, while public interest was still high, instead of several years into its run, as was done with Beavis and Butt-head Do America, possibly because Beavis and Butt-head and South Park were owned by Viacom Global Entertainment Group, a unit of the Viacom Media Networks division of Viacom after Doug Herzog left Viacom Media Networks on January 12, 2017.
The cast of South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut is mostly carried over faithfully from the television series. Co-creator Trey Parker voices the characters of Eric Cartman and Stan Marsh, and Satan, Clyde Donovan, Mr. Garrison, Phillip Niles Argyle, Randy Marsh, Mr. Mackey, Ned Gerblanski, the singing voice of Big Gay Al, the speaking voice of Gregory, The Mole, Adolf Hitler, and President Bill Clinton, as well as multiple other background characters. Matt Stone portrays Kyle Broflovski and Kenny McCormick, as well as Saddam Hussein (even though during the end credits it says that he was voiced by himself), Terrance Henry Stoot, Big Gay Al, Jimbo Kearn, Stuart McCormick, Gerald Broflovski, Bill Gates, and additional voices. Mary Kay Bergman voices Wendy Testaburger, the core mothers of the film (Sheila Broflovski, Sharon Marsh, Liane Cartman, and Carol McCormick), Shelley Marsh, and the clitoris. Isaac Hayes reprised his role from the series as Chef, and voice clips of staff children Jesse Howell, Anthony Cross-Thomas, and Franchesca Clifford make up Ike Broflovski. Guest voices for the film included George Clooney as Dr. Gouache, Brent Spiner as Conan O'Brien, Minnie Driver as Brooke Shields, Eric Idle as Dr. Vosnocker, and Dave Foley provides the combined voices of Alec, Billy, Daniel, and Stephen Baldwin. Michael McDonald as himself (the track "Eyes of a Child") and as Satan's high notes in "Up There", and Howard McGillin provides Gregory's singing voice in "La Resistance (Medley)". Stewart Copeland, former drummer for The Police, guests as an American soldier. Mike Judge, creator and voices of Beavis and Butt-head, King of the Hill and The Goode Family, provides Kenny's voice in his sole speaking appearance at the end of the film. Although initially denied by Paramount, Metallica lead singer James Hetfield provides vocals for the track "Hell Isn't Good", which was confirmed by Parker in the 2009 Blu-ray commentary.
The season one episode "Death" heavily influenced the film's screenplay. The plot and theme of both scripts revolves heavily around the parents of South Park protesting about Terrance and Phillip due to the perceived negative influence it has over their children. Parker said, "After about the first year of South Park, Paramount already wanted to make a South Park movie, and we sort of thought this episode would make the best model just because we liked the sort of pointing at ourselves kind of thing." During the time, the team was also busy writing the second and third seasons of the series, the former of which Parker and Stone later described as "disastrous". As such, they figured the phenomenon would be over soon, and they decided to write a personal, fully committed musical.
The animation in South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut was created in 3D using Alias/Wavefront (now the Alias Systems Corporation) PowerAnimator software, running on Silicon Graphics O2 and Octane workstations. Characters and individual scene elements were designed with both texture mapping and shading that, when rendered, resemble 2D paper cut-out stop-motion animation. The artists at South Park Studios (at the time, called South Park Productions) used a multiprocessor SGI Origin 2000 and 31 multiprocessor Origin 200 servers (with 1.14 terabytes of storage) for both rendering and asset management. Backgrounds, characters and other items could be saved separately or as fully composited scenes, with speedy access later. "By creating flat characters and backgrounds in a 3D environment, we are able to add textures and lighting effects that give the film a cut-out construction paper stop-motion style which would have taken many more months if done traditionally," said Gina Shay, line producer of the film. The animation team, beginning with season five, began using Maya instead of PowerAnimator. The studio now runs a 120-processor render farm that can produce 30 or more shots an hour. As the show's visual quality has substantially improved in recent seasons, the animation of South Park: Bigger, Longer, & Uncut is a prime example of the show's old, cruder, even more primitive animation style. In the audio commentary on the 2009 Blu-ray reissue of the film, Stone and Parker take ample time to criticize how "bad and time consuming" the animation was during the era. IGN described the animation as "fall[ing] somewhere within the middle ground—not quite cardboard cutouts, but not quite fully computerized either." Nate Boss, in a review of the Blu-ray reissue for High-Def Digest, commented, "There is no comparing the two, as the movie has a classic (for South Park, at least) animated feel, so full of the cut-outs we have grown to love, while the newer seasons sport a more computer processed feel." The film, unlike the television series (at the time), was animated in widescreen (1.66:1). "Although the 'primitive' animation of South Park is supposedly a joke, it's really a secret weapon," said Stephanie Zacharek of Salon. "The simplicity of Parker and Stone's technique is what makes it so effective."
The team working on the film commuted between the project and the series, pushing both to scheduling extremes (changes to Bigger, Longer & Uncut were made as late as two weeks before its release) and fighting constantly with Paramount. "They wanted a Disney kind of trailer. We said no. They put together a totally un-South Park MTV video for the song 'What Would Brian Boitano Do?'. We had to go make our own version." Paramount's first trailer for the film advertised it, according to Parker, as "the laughiest movie of the summer", and promoted it in a way that South Park "was completely against". Parker and Stone told the studio of their dissatisfaction with the trailer, and upon the creation of a second trailer with minimal changes, the two broke the videocassette in half and sent it back in its original envelope. "It was war," said Stone in 2000. "They were saying, 'Are you telling us how to do our job?' And I was going, 'Yes, because you're fucking stupid and you don't know what you're doing.'" In another instance, Paramount took the songs from the film and created a music video to be aired on MTV. In accordance with broadcast standards, the studio cut various "R-rated" parts out and edited it into what Parker described as a "horrible little medley with all humor absent". The studio sent the original tape to Parker and Stone over a weekend, with plans to send it to MTV on Monday to prepare it for airtime beginning Wednesday. Stone instead put the tape in the trunk of his car and went home. Paramount threatened to sue Parker and Stone in response. Parker also noted that the title was an obvious innuendo, and "they (the MPAA) just didn't get it".
The musical score and songs featured in the film were composed and written by Parker and Marc Shaiman. The musical features 14 songs, each evoking a familiar Broadway style. The soundtrack also parodies many familiar Disney conventions, with several songs spoofing Disney musicals such as Beauty and the Beast and The Little Mermaid. The tracks "Mountain Town" brought comparisons to Oklahoma! and the opening to Beauty and the Beast ("Belle"), and the "La Resistance" medley drew forth favorable Les Misérables comparisons. "I'm Super" recalls Beauty and the Beast's "Be Our Guest" and South Pacific's Honey Bun and "Kyle's Mom's a Bitch" echoes Chitty Chitty Bang Bang; "Up There", "Mountain Town (Reprise)" and "I Can Change" recalls The Little Mermaid's "Part of Your World", "Poor Unfortunate Souls" and "Part of Your World (Finale)"; and "Uncle Fucka" is reminiscent of Oklahoma! (especially the ending). Additionally, the song "Hell Isn't Good", which accompanies Kenny's descent to Hell, is sang by James Hetfield, who went uncredited for his performance.
The score received critical acclaim, with Entertainment Weekly calling it "a cast album that gleefully sends up all the Hollywood musical conventions we're being deprived of." The soundtrack was released June 15, 1999 by Atlantic Records. "Blame Canada" was frequently highlighted as one of the best from the soundtrack and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Song. "I was like, 'We're going to get nominated for an Academy Award for this.' I really was," Parker said. "I even told him [Shaiman]." The song takes place in the film when the United States blames Canada for corrupting its youth. "We're making fun of people who pick ridiculous targets to blame anything about what's going on in their lives, so Canada was just the perfect, ridiculous, innocuous choice for a target," said Shaiman. In 2011, Time called the music of the film the "finest, sassiest full-movie musical score since the disbanding of the Freed unit at MGM."
Paramount Pictures won a jump ball with Warner Bros. (parent companies Viacom and Time Warner, respectively, jointly owned Comedy Central until Time Warner exited the venture in 2003) to release the film in the United States, with Warner Bros. getting the international rights. Viacom bought all of Comedy Central in 2003, but Warner Bros. continued to distribute the film internationally.
The film was rated R for "pervasive vulgar language and crude sexual humor, and for some violent images" by the Motion Picture Association of America; this rating did not come as surprise to most media outlets, as many had predicted long before that the film would likely be for ages 18 and over. However, there was much more discussion within the MPAA than initially reported in the media. The board's objections to the film were described in highly specific terms by Paramount Pictures executives in private memos circulating at Paramount. For months the ratings board insisted on the more prohibitive NC-17. South Park was screened by the MPAA six times—five times, the board returned the movie to Paramount with an NC-17. The last submission the filmmakers received was an NC-17, two weeks before release. A marketing agent from Paramount called the two and explained that the studio "needed" an R. In response, Stone called producer Scott Rudin and "freaked out." Rudin then called a Paramount executive and, in Stone's words, "freaked out on them." The next day the film was changed to an R rating without reason, with the original film intact. "The ratings board only cared about the dirty words; they're so confused and arbitrary," said Parker to The New York Times shortly before the release of the picture. "They didn't blink twice because of violence." During production of the trailer for the film, the raters objected to certain words but had no problem with a scene in which cartoon bullets are killing soldiers. "They had a problem with words, not bullets," he said. The MPAA gave Paramount specific notes for the film; in contrast, Parker and Stone's NC-17 comedy Orgazmo, released in 1998 by Rogue Pictures, was not given any specifications on how to make the movie acceptable for an R rating. The duo attributed the R rating to the fact that Paramount is a member of the MPAA; the distributor dismissed these claims. The film was given a 15 certificate by the British Board of Film Classification for "frequent coarse language and crude sexual references" with no cuts made. It was rated MA15+ (Mature accompanied for those under 15) by the Australian Classification Board without cuts.
As predicted through the actions of the boys in the film, there were numerous news reports of underage South Park fans engaging in unsuccessful attempts to gain entrance to the film at theaters. There were reports of adolescents purchasing tickets for Warner's own Wild Wild West and instead sitting in to see South Park. This came as a result of a movie-industry crackdown that would make it tougher for children to sneak into R-rated films, as proposed by President Bill Clinton at the time in response to the moral panic generated by the Columbine High School massacre, which occurred two months before the film's release. South Park was cited, along with American Pie, as an explicit film released in the summer of 1999 tempting teens to sneak into theaters. When the film was released in the United Kingdom in August 1999, there were similar reports of the film drawing an underage crowd.
Hayes, voice of Chef in the film, responded to conservatives urging prudishness as a cure for society's ills: "If we give in to that and allow [entertainment] to become a scapegoat, you might wind up living in who-knows-what kind of state.... If you believe in [your artistic vision] and you've got a moral conviction, take it to 'em!" The rating of the film later brought comparisons to Stanley Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut, released in theaters in a digitally altered and censored version just two weeks after South Park. Kubrick's original cut was given an NC-17 rating, but Warner Bros. then blocked out characters in an orgy scene so the film could be rated R. In response to these debates and controversy, Stone called the MPAA a "bumbling, irresponsible organization".
The licensing arm of Paramount took the step of significantly expanding retail distribution beyond specialty stores (Hot Topic, Spencer's) to big chains (Target, J.C. Penney), which involved carefully stripping T-shirts of racy slogans from the television show. Licensing industry observers credited Comedy Central with carving out a profitable niche in an industry dominated by powerful partnerships that link fast-food chains and Hollywood movie studios, which was particularly tough for South Park, as no fast-food chains wanted to ally themselves with the show's racy content. Eventually, J.C. Penney ended the tie-ins with the show in April 1999 as a result of customer complaints. On July 7, 1999, Parker and Stone appeared on Late Night with Conan O'Brien to promote the film's release. During the interview, Parker and Stone showed a clip of the film in which a caricature of O'Brien, played by Brett Spiner, hands over Terrence and Phillip to the US government and jumps to his death from the set of Late Night. Upon seeing the clip, a bemused O'Brien responded that his interns saw the film and thought it was "really funny", but were annoyed that the Late Night set was portrayed as on the top floor of the GE Building, when it was really on the sixth floor. The film also suffered negative publicity before release. It was initially reported that on the day of the Columbine High School massacre, a friend of the killers (Chris Morris) was seen wearing a black T-shirt depicting characters from South Park. Both Parker and Stone come from Colorado, and Stone went to Heritage High School, not far from Columbine High. He proceeded to take three days off from work following the shootings. "Nothing seemed funny after that," he said. South Park was, at the time, generally waning in popularity: ratings dropped nearly 40 percent with the premiere of the series' third season and, according to Entertainment Weekly, "it [wasn't] the pop-culture behemoth it was last year ." In response to the decline, Parker commented, "Suddenly we suck and we're not cool anymore. The funny thing is, last year we were saying the same things and we were hip, fresh, and cute. Now they're telling us we're pushing 30, we're failures, and we're sellouts."
The film was released on DVD in the US on November 23, 1999, with a VHS release initially for rental services only, such as Blockbuster. A traditional retail VHS release followed on May 16, 2000. The DVD contained three theatrical trailers for special features, which many criticized as being typical of "bare-bones" DVD releases. There is also a NTSC laserdisc version that was released on January 18, 2000; copies are extremely rare. The film was re-released on Blu-ray on June 30, 2009 in celebration of its decade-long anniversary. The film's 1080p AVC encode (at 1.66:1) was taken from the original film source as well with random audio sync issues, despite the fact the film was animated entirely digitally. IGN's Scott Lowe explained, "Although clearly aged, South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut looks great and is free of the washed out, compressed imperfections of previous standard definition releases of the film." However, Michael Zupan of DVDTalk notes that an automatic digital scratch removal process may have inadvertently removed some intentional lines from the picture, notably during Cartman's first scene with the V-chip. The disc contained a full-length audio commentary from Parker and Stone, as well as other crew members though most of them had no recollection of making the film due to heavy scheduling.
The film was given universal acclaim by critics and audiences alike. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film scores a 92% (it started with a 100%), with the consensus stating "its jokes are profoundly bold and rude but incredibly funny at the same time". On IMDb, the film has 7.2/10 and on Metacritic, it has an 83/100 (universal acclaim).
In 2008, it was nominated for AFI's 10 Top 10 for animated films, but didn't make the list. In 2011, TIME ranked South Park as the sixth greatest animated film of all time.
South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut was nominated for Best Original Song at the 72nd Academy Awards for "Blame Canada" but lost to Phil Collins.
- This is the first R-rated animated film released for a mainstream audience.
- In 2018, Teen Titans Go: To the Movies was blamed for ripping off this film, as well as Cats Don't Dance.