Monday, June 30, 2014

DICKLESS JIG:  Fifteen years ago today, the greatest movie musical of the past forty-plus years was released into theaters: South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut. Here's "La Resistance", and Matt Stone's memo to the MPAA on its suggested cuts ("We have the shot animated that reveals the fact that Winona is not shooting ping-pong balls from her vagina.").

[Go ahead, make a case for a better movie musical post-Wonka: I'll hear arguments for Moulin Rouge!, Hairspray, and Little Shop of Horrors, I guess.]


  1. Joseph Finn5:17 PM

    I'm not going to claim that it was better, but I want to toss Bugsy Malone into the ring. It's cheesy as hell, but the Paul Williams songs are fantastic.

    And, of course, mentioning Paul Williams means we have to talk about another contender: The Muppet Movie. South Park is better, but that's not a first-round knockout of a win over Muppet Movie, a great music.

    And then, oh then, we get to the real contender, the best Muppet movie: A Muppet Christmas Carol. Now that's a musical with great heart, great songs, great performances and pretty much one of the best page-to-screen adaptations you could hope for.

  2. Jordan5:17 PM

    Does "Spinal Tap" count? "That Thing You Do!"? That's it off the top of my head. I guess I don't really like musicals.

  3. Randy5:40 PM

    Is "Nashville" a musical? How about "All That Jazz"? Also, "Cabaret" is post-Wonka, and it IS the greatest musical of all time, so there's that.

    I'm also a big fan of the movie versions of both "Chicago" and "Hairspray", but they both succeed because the songs are so strong, and despite some sketchy direction.

    I vividly remember the first time I saw SP:BLU. It was one of those screenings, like Toy Story or Pulp Fiction, where I was just completely *giddy* from start to finish... I just couldn't *believe* I was actually seeing what I was seeing.

  4. Joseph Finn7:07 PM

    I'm not sure I would count This Is Spinal Tap as a musical, but if it are going to count it that's definitely top 5 for the period in question.

  5. pfrduke8:10 PM

    We have watched the Muppet Christmas Carol every year at Christmas, multiple times each year, since it was released. Putting the Muppet Christmas Carol on TV on Christmas Eve after dinner is a sanctified tradition in our family. I was stuck on a business trip one Christmas and had to spend it away from home - my wife brought the movie and arranged with the hotel to rent a DVD player so we could watch it at the hotel Christmas Eve (one of the many reasons she's a fantastic wife). Basically, Christmas is not Christmas without the Muppet Christmas Carol. I think if Dickens had lived to see it, he would agree that it is the Platonic ideal of his story.

  6. Adam B.8:56 PM

    It is not a musical; it is a mockumentary with music. A musical is a film in which the characters sometimes express their thoughts through song as a means of narrative propulsion.

  7. christy in nyc9:18 PM

    The Muppets Take Manhattan is one of my favorite movies ever. But then, so is South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut. I taped it off of a late-night (no bowdlerizing) showing on MTV (using the combo TV/VCR I had in my childhood bedroom) and watched it ten berzillion times.

  8. bill.9:22 PM

    I don't think I've ever laughed harder in a movie theater than when I saw South Park. If you're a fan, I recommend checking out their student film, "Cannibal: The Musical" (released on Troma). I highly recommend watching the director's commentary (done after SP:BLU) where they talk about how bad of a movie it is while getting massively drunk -- "we didn't know you don't really start a film with a boring conversation."

    It is a bad movie -- bad actors, bad singers, bad direction, no budget -- but there are a couple of decent songs and it's a good look at how into musicals Trey was at 22. I did see one of the first stage productions and it works better on the stage than the screen. Better actors and singers will do that.

    My favorite commentary, for the song "This Side of Me":
    Trey (growing angrier as he speaks): If this was a Sting song everyone would be like "Wow, what a great fucking song." But because it was me no one fucking gave a shit.

    chorus of voices: Fuck you, Sting!

    some guy: Want some more whiskey?

    watch the movie, listen to the songs

    listen to the commentary track

  9. Joseph Finn10:51 PM

    Quite right. But it's still awesome.

  10. Grease is post-Wonka, and there's a case to be made there on longevity/influence (sans Grease, there is no High School Musical).

    Other competitors--O Brother Where Art Thou? (I'm not a huge fan, but...), the Ashman/Mencken Disney pictures, and Chicago (which had a concept, even if I'm not 100% convinced the concept WORKED).

  11. And is Purple Rain a musical? One can argue the virtues (or lack thereof) of its book and the performances, but that's a great score.

  12. Jordan9:16 AM

    Figured as much. Not that it'd be my pick, but would something like "Pitch Perfect" count? Since jukebox musicals are a thing.

  13. Tosy and Cosh12:31 PM

    So I'm the only one who unabashedly loved Sweeney Todd? Just me?

  14. Genevieve2:19 PM

    I'm a Bugsy Malone fan! "My Name Is Tallulah", "So You Wanna Be a Boxer", "Tomorrow," "We Could've Been Anything That We Wanted To Be", etc. Loved them as a kid, can still hear them as an adult.

  15. Genevieve2:21 PM

    You and my teen. I'm not the biggest Tim Burton fan and preferred Lansbury's version to Bonham Carter. But the kid loves it.

  16. Joseph Finn2:23 PM

    I wanted to like the movie more, but it's not quite there for me (frankly, the Anthony and Johanna casting is a snore).

  17. Joseph Finn2:27 PM

    "Let me at him Jooeeeeee." Darn shame the movie is out of print and if you want it you have to rely on imports.

  18. Tosy and Cosh2:55 PM

    Wait. There is a human being on the planet who PREFERS Bonham Carter to Lansbury???

  19. Tosy and Cosh2:57 PM

    Agreed, but I can fanwank it away as being a deliberate choice to echo the ingenue and hero archetypes they fill. ;)

  20. Jim Bell11:03 AM

    And, there were no votes for Xanadu. Shocker.