Created by Trey Parker and Matt Stone
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Running Time: 65 minutes
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, 2.0 English
MSRP: $ 19.99
Release Date: March 11, 2008
Review Date: February 28, 2008
No fan of Comedy Central’s South Park needs to be introduced to its raunchy, politically incorrect characters and storylines. South Park Imaginationland appears to be three episodes of the television series linked by a common story arc joined together into a made-for-DVD film. What’s uncensored is that the profanity isn’t bleeped out as it commonly is on television and there is perhaps a bit more gore, but otherwise, its satirical swipes at everyone and everything continue to be mildly shocking and at the same time hilarious. Fans of the show may enjoy seeing the episodes in “movie size” (16:9) rather than the 4:3 aspect ratio of the TV screenings. For those who aren’t familiar with South Park, this really isn’t the place to get started with the show. Go for the season sets readily available, and save this for later.
The imagination of the country is on the verge of being squelched by an invasion of terrorists who unleash the evil imagination critters (Captain Hook, the Alien creature, Freddy Krueger, Jason Vorhees among many others) on the forces of right and good (Kurt Russell is sent in to help but gets raped by the Woodland Critters and becomes ineffectual.). Butters (Matt Stone) gets sucked into Imaginationland to use his imagination to come to the aid of the forces of good (Mighty Mouse, Cinderella, Bullwinkle among others) who are being advised by the Council of Nine (among them: Jesus, Luke Skywalker, Popeye, Wonder Woman, and Glinda). Meanwhile, Cartman (Trey Parker) can’t be bothered to help because he’s harassing Kyle (Matt Stone) to fulfill his part of a lost bet by sucking his, er . . . .testicles; Kyle, of course, would rather not.
The satire knows no bounds as everyone comes in for a skewering. Al Gore becomes Super Al soaring into the fray to see if he can help, especially since his old nemesis the Manbearpig is part of the evildoers. Santa Claus and Jesus, who have had their differences on the show before, show up in different roles in these episodes. And when the powers that be need to get their imaginations stimulated to try to brainstorm a way out of their predicament, they turn to three imaginative Hollywood directors for assistance: M. Night Shyamalan, Michael Bay, and Mel Gibson. It should come as no surprise that none of the men come away unscathed though one does manage to help.
It’s as crude as ever and also as funny as ever. I didn’t see these episodes on broadcast television‘s Comedy Central, so it was a treat having the entire story arc presented here in one big gulp. It’s a satisfying one.
The program is presented in a nonanamorphic 1.78:1 aspect ratio transfer. Because the image hasn’t been enhanced, there is a good bit of digital artifacting including aliasing, pixilation, color banding, and other annoying compression problems. Colors are nice and well saturated, but anamorphic enhancement would have gone a long way into making these TV episodes seem more like the South Park movie many enjoyed some years ago. The film is divided into 18 chapters.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track does use some discreet sounds in the rears on occasion, and the subwoofer gets some use as well, but most of the track is pitched toward the front channels. It’s not showy, but it gets the job done.
Trey Parker and Matt Stone contribute a chatty audio commentary. Though they profess to hate doing these and promise only a 5-minute talk, they actually speak for 47 of the film’s 65 minutes. They discuss how the storylines came to be, talk about the insane deadlines they can’t believe they were able to meet, make mention occasionally when a shot goes by that wasn’t in the broadcast version due to standards and practices, and continue to have fun with Tom Cruise and Tom Hanks during the discussion. It’s a fun, irreverent ¾ hour.
Two storyboards for the film are presented. The first runs 2 minutes (it’s the leprechaun sequence) and the second (called “What Is This Place?“) runs 1½ minutes.
Two complete episodes of South Park are offered as bonus features. The two episodes involve the introductions of the Woodland Critters (the Christmas episode) and Al Gore and the Manbearpig creature, both of which also figure in the Imaginationland film as presented.
Previews for the upcoming DVD releases of Li’l Bush, South Park - Season 10, and Drawn Together - Season 2 are offered.
If you’re a fan of South Park and want the uncut, uncensored version of the Imaginationland story arc for your collection, this is the set to get. An anamorphic encoding would have made it more like a real movie, but as is, it’s still got plenty of laughs to offer.