Yes. They Did.
South Park is certainly no stranger to controversy and this film is living proof of it. I remember being at least 11 years old when this movie came out in theaters and hearing many parents and censorship groups protesting this film due to the coarse language in it. By that time my brother and I were watching South Park and we have heard much worse in public schools and at home compared to some of the foul language used in the show and in the film. If anything, a lot of the foul language in this film is hysterical and a lot of groups and protesters missed the point that the movie was trying to make. This film is obviously about censorship, but the deeper subtext of the film is that parents need to take the responsibility for what their kids do until their kids are 18 years old. Of course this is not the only issue that this film raises.
My brother and I first watched this movie when it came out and we understood the message they were trying to send, so how does this movie hold up a little over decade later, the answer is that it does, for the most part.
The main message of censorship and parents taking responsibility and the time to talk to their children is certainly there and is as relevant today as it was then (being that kids today are becoming more miserable than ever, due to the over-emphasis of the "me, me, me" culture that in some part the "self-esteem" movement has caused).
The songs are still funny and viewers will still laugh at all of them, of course the idea of Brian Boitano being the "Chuck Norris" of the show is still pretty funny, although if you're not a fan of the show, then the joke will definitely be lost on you in some respects.
Another thing that some viewers may not realize is that the music in this film and some of the characters and situations pay tribute to Les Miserables and parodies Disney films like The Lion King and The Little Mermaid. Another joke and homage that may be lost to those who are not very familiar with musical theater or may have missed the cues.
Of course there are some jokes that are a little bit outdated, but these jokes are not entirely detrimental to the enjoyment of this film. Although, it is the only movie in history that still holds the world record for the most swear words in a movie, it is understandable why some critics may see this movie as immature. Some critics will say that a comedy that uses so much foul language is often using it as a means to mask the inadequacy of the film itself and the lack of humor in it.
South Park: Bigger, Longer And Uncut uses this to its advantage to test the censors and the MPAA of what is considered to be obscene and offensive. This movie was originally slated for the dreaded NC-17 rating which is the kiss of death for a lot of movies, but one of the valid points that was raised in this movie is when the Canadian Prime Minister replies to Shelia Brofsloski "American television shows graphic violence everyday. How could a film with some foul language could piss you off so much?"
It is one of those lines in the film that made me really think. There have been many interesting films that have been made and that will never see the light of day or get the distribution they need because of the dreaded NC-17 rating. The NC-17 rating is mostly reserved for movies that contain explicit sexuality, nudity, or extremely graphic violence but a lot of the movies that ended up in the NC-17 rating list are mostly films that contain the two former and not the latter yet the films that are extremely violent simply get the "R" rating.
While South Park: Bigger, Longer And Uncut's message is clear about their position concerning censorship, freedom of speech and individual responsibility, it also satirizes and criticizes the MPAA's rating system and on some level, American Culture as a whole and America's fetish and obsession with violence. It is that message and issue that was definitely missed when I first saw this movie at 13 years old and most certainly missed when this movie came out, but now as a little over a decade has passed and as I have gotten older, there are many other issues and messages that I also see now that are especially important to talk about.
Considering the MPAA almost gave Zack And Miri Make A Porno the NC-17 rating in 2008 (due to a sex scene that wasn't even explicitly graphic in the "pornographic" context) and that they were willing to give Rambo an "R" rating, it makes you think what the MPAA considers more appropriate for the viewing public and where their priorities and beliefs lie.
This film explores that through using foul language and even challenges the MPAA through its foul language and what the boys say. This film is definitely worth looking into, not just for the fans of the show, but also for those who love films and consider themselves a film scholar.
As far as the MPAA's motto goes, Shelia Brofloski said it best: "Remember what the MPAA says; Horrific, Deplorable violence is okay, as long as people don't say any naughty woids!"
My name is Maricruz Gonzalez and I'm The Movie Bitch...Because somebody has to be.
Stay Sassy Planet Earth!