South Park: Imaginationland

Film
Recommended
4 out of 5 stars
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Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars

Originally conceived as the second South Park theatrical film and ultimately broadcast as three episodes of the series, Imaginationland ranks as a creative high point for Trey Parker and Matt Stone. Now edited together and with the profanity unbleeped, the trilogy can’t compare to 1999’s Bigger, Longer & Uncut where music is concerned (the one-joke title number is unworthy of someone with Parker’s songwriting chops), but its epic sweep and elaborate animation (by South Park standards, at least) really deserved a shot at the big screen.

Imaginationland is stuffed with Easter-egg cameos from the worlds of children’s literature, video games, cartoons and so on. This menagerie lives together in a fantasyland which Kyle, Cartman et al. visit after chasing a leprechaun, and in which Butters is stranded just before the place is attacked by Islamic terrorists. The ensuing plot takes a number of jabs at satirical targets that are less than fresh (Al Gore, Saving Private Ryan), but it also allows Parker and Stone to inventively skewer action-movie storytelling once the military gets involved and an army of evil characters is unleashed. These episodes will inevitably turn up in the box set of South Park’s 11th season; on this disc, however, they’re accompanied by episodes from Seasons 8 and 10 that introduce characters who return here (ManBearPig and the deceptively cute Woodland Critters). Also included is a rare full-length commentary by Parker and Stone (who usually don’t have more than ten minutes of stuff to say about any show in particular).

—Andrew Johnston

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