Some people would be advised to skip the feature-length cartoon based on the Comedy Central series. A short list would include celebrities teased in the movie: the Baldwin brothers, Conan O’Brien, Winona Ryder, Bill Gates, Liza Minnelli, Barbra Streisand and God. Also anyone who lacks a bottomless tolerance for inspired comic rudeness. To the rest of you: enjoy the flat-out funniest movie on this list — though with an R rating, it’s obviously not for children.
The kids from Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s TV series, by 2011 in its 15th year, are all here. But this time Stan, Kyle, Kenny and Cartman — the quartet of cut-out third graders in the “quiet little redneck podunk white-trash mountain town” of South Park, Colo. — are out to save the world, along with their favorite Canadian gross-out comics, Terrance and Phillip. While three of the boys join a kids’ resistance, Kenny (the dead one) goes to hell, where Satan is playing footsie — and other body parts — with Saddam Hussein.
Parker’s not-so-secret sin is that — virtually alone among heterosexuals under 50 — he loves the grand ambitions and soaring chords of old Broadway songs. Abetted by super-arranger Marc Shaiman (who later did the shows Hairspray and Catch Me If You Can), he turned the South Park movie into a wall-to-wall musical: 14 tunes, each evoking a familiar Broadway style. Cartman’s perky “Kyle’s Mom’s a Bitch” echoes Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, with choruses in fake Chinese, Dutch and French. Saddam could be an Arabic fiddler on the roof as he struts his seedy charm in “I Can Change.” Satan has a hilariously solemn ballad in the Disney-cartoon mode; like the Little Mermaid, he wants to be “Up There.” And though a song whose refrain is, more or less, “Shut your flicking face, Uncle Flicka” would seem to have little room for musical wit, Shaiman turns it into an Oklahoma hoedown, with kids chirping like obscene Chipmunks. Come for the dirty jokes; stay for the finest, sassiest full-movie musical score since the disbanding of the Freed unit at MGM.
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