Comedy Central // 2007 // 66 Minutes // Unrated
Reviewed by Judge Victor Valdivia (Retired) // March 24th, 2008
"This isn't a victory for me, this is a victory for the justice system. And my balls." -- Eric Cartman
South Park: Imaginationland is the most epic event in South Park history since the first feature film. South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone have launched a new DVD with the full trilogy of episodes, and fans will find it worth the wait.
Kyle and Cartman have made a bet: if leprechauns are real, Kyle will suck Cartman's balls. If not, Kyle will get $10. Unfortunately for Kyle, a leprechaun does appear, warning of a possible terrorist attack. Kyle, Cartman, Stan, Butters, and Jimmy then embark on an epic journey into Imaginationland, where characters from literature, fiction, and myths all come to life, just as terrorists suddenly launch an attack there. Will the U.S. government decide to destroy Imaginationland in order to prevent further attacks? Will Butters, trapped in Imaginationland amidst a battle between the good and evil characters of fiction, survive? And will Cartman finally get Kyle to suck his balls?
At the heart of Imaginationland is the juxtaposition of two stories. One is about how the myths and fantasies we create can sometimes be more real than reality itself; the other is about Cartman demanding that Kyle suck his balls. There's no getting around it: you can't have one story without the other, and that's as it should be. South Park fans wouldn't have it any other way.
Imaginationland is an epic, of course, to the extent that South Park does epics. Aired as three separate episodes in October 2007, Imaginationland is a perfect example of South Park's unmatched ability to blend highbrow intellectualism and lowbrow potty humor. Who else would incorporate references to Saving Private Ryan and the Al-Jazeera network with a shot of Cartman's dry, dry balls exploding into dust?
Fans will have a lot of fun with this disc. In Imaginationalnd, the boys finally meet almost every single major character in fiction and popular culture. The freeze-frame button will come in handy to identify as many as possible. In just one brief shot, you can see the Lollipop King, H.R. Pufnstuf, the Alien (from Alien), the Predator (from Predator), and of course Mickey Mouse -- getting his head blown off. There are literally hundreds more -- plus characters from previous South Park episodes reappear. The Christmas Critters, from the episode where Cartman wrote a ridiculously grotesque Christmas story, are back. Adorable and endearing, they are just the most darling little forest animals who are so very enamored of Satanism and blood orgies. Here, their taste for gruesome torture causes Jason (Friday the 13th) Voorhees to exclaim in disgust, "I do not want to meet the kid who dreamt those things up." Also, Al Gore and his bête noire, the fearsome (and imaginary) Manbearpig, return as well.
Is there a point to Imaginationland? Probably. In fact, maybe two. First, that stories, myths, and legends do matter. That those stories may be fictional and not real, but the truths and emotions those stories communicate may seem more real than some real-life experiences. And second, that you should never ever make a bet involving sucking someone's balls. There's always a chance you'll lose.
For this DVD, Parker and Stone have edited the three episodes into a 65-minute "director's cut." There are no opening credits, each episode gets a brief movie-like intro, and there are a few additional shots and lines -- nothing Earth-shattering, just some minor expansions here and there. The change that most fans will notice is that the bleeps to obscure profanities are all gone, so you can hear Jimmy say the F-word in full clarity. There's also a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix that kicks in during a couple of the explosions and battles, but is otherwise unused. The original stereo 2.0 mix is included as well. The full-screen transfer is the same as any other South Park DVD.
The biggest extra is a commentary by Parker and Stone. Unlike the 69-minute "mini"-commentaries on the series box sets, this one almost goes the distance, stopping at the 47-minute mark. Both are unrestrained and have plenty to say about the writing and animation, as well as other subjects (M. Night Shyamalan fans should probably steer clear). Also included are storyboards for two scenes, the opening and the part where the boys arrive in Imaginationland, with audio tracks. These have one or two extra jokes not included in the final version. Finally, the disc is rounded out by the two episodes that introduced the Christmas Critters ("Woodland Critter Christmas") and Al Gore and Manbearpig ("Manbearpig").
The appearance by Al Gore, which once again rehashes the "Manbearpig" episode, is pointless. He's only in here for a few minutes, but his appearance adds little humor. Maybe there should have been more of the Christmas Critters and their taste for depravity. No one can ever get enough of that, really.
South Park fans should definitely spring for this one. The special features are far more expansive than on any of the regular season sets. Because this has many references to previous episodes, newcomers may want to start elsewhere, such as the Hits: Vol. 1 box set.
The court decrees that no one, anywhere, ever, should be forced to suck anyone's balls. Except for Kyle, as he signed a contract.
Review content copyright © 2008 Victor Valdivia; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Comedy Central
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 66 Minutes
Release Year: 2007
MPAA Rating: Unrated
* Audio Commentary
* Episode 814: "Woodland Critter Christmas"
* Episode 1006: "Manbearpig"
* IMDb: South Park
* IMDb: Imaginationland - Part 1
* IMDb: Imaginationland - Part 2
* IMDb: Imaginationland - Part 3
* Official Site