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  • Writer's pictureRua Fay

The Terrifically Tasteless Films of Trey Parker and Matt Stone

Whether you love it or hate it, everyone in America has at least heard of Comedy Central's show South Park. For nearly thirty years it has made headlines for controversy after controversy but still remains one of the most successful TV shows in history! Since 1997, millions and millions of fans have tuned in to watch the adventures of Stan, Kyle, Cartman, and Kenny. The two creators, Trey Parker and Matt Stone have since become legends in the comedy world and have expanded to various other mediums. Perhaps you are familiar with their Tony-winning musical, The Book of Mormon, or their various South Park specials, but how familiar are you with their other films with humor so offensive they put South Park to shame?

Trey Parker and Matt Stone met in college at the University of Colorado Boulder and ever since, the two have been a creative force to be reckoned with. Today we'll be discussing three films of theirs, independent from South Park, in order from least to most obscure. We start out with perhaps the most mainstream, 1998's Baseketball. It's important to note that the pair did not direct nor write this film, in fact, they weren't even supposed to be in it in the first place. Parker's role was initially supposed to be played by Chris Farley, but when that fell through and Parker was chosen a considerable amount of the script was rewritten to fit their style of humor. The film centers around Park and Stone's characters, Joe Cooper and Doug Remer and the new sport they invent, a mix of baseball and basketball: BASEketball. The sport quickly evolves from a neighborhood game played in driveways to a professional sport with its own league like the NBA. The film also stars Jenny McCarthy, Yasmine Bleeth, frequent collaborator, Dian Bachar, band, Reel Big Fish, and for some reason, Dale Earnhardt. McCarthy and Bleeth were actually given Golden Raspberry nominations for their performances.

Baseketball is in a lot of ways, your standard R-rated comedy, with plenty of offensive jokes, hot girls, and extreme gross-out humor. Within the first five minutes we see Matt Stone put a used vibrator in his mouth, and later we see Trey Parker drink Marlon Brando's liposuctioned fat through a straw. And if you pay enough attention there are actually a few South Park references. Most of the jokes in Baseketball revolve around the "psych out" method used in the sport, meaning that when one team is making a free throw, the other can do absolutely anything possible to make them miss the shot. This ranges from saying "I fucked your sister" to having Matt Stone squirt milk out of his nipples and Trey Parker cutting off his own middle finger with pliers.

Despite debuting to an unenthusiastic response and bad reviews, BaseketBall has since gained a sort of cult following by newer South Park fans, exploring the work of the creators. In fact, the bad reviews led to a sort of feud between Parker and Stone and Roger Ebert. If you look up the film's title on Tiktok, you're sure to find hundreds and hundreds of results of teenagers obsessing over it. Perhaps the strangest part about the movie is that it coined the word "derp," which comes as a surprise considering the film has been largely forgotten. I personally find myself being more partial to the film than most, as a film student, sometimes I want a break from the existentialism of A24 and just want a stupid R-rated comedy, it just scratches an itch. Baseketball is an insanely weird film, but what if I told you it got weirder?

This brings us to the 1997 superhero sex comedy, Orgazmo. Yes, you read that right. Unlike Baseketball, this film was made entirely by Parker and Stone, with Parker writing and directing and Stone producing, both star in the film as well. Orgazmo has perhaps the weirdest plot of anything the pair have ever worked on, it centers Joe Young, a Mormon missionary in Los Angeles who is forced into the porn industry in order to pay for his fiancee's dream wedding. In the porn industry, he plays a superhero named Orgazmo to make money, although he merely provides the face and does not have any sex on camera. Dian Bachar also stars, this time playing Orgazmo's sidekick, Choda Boy. As his career progresses and Orgazmo becomes an overnight box office success, Young finds himself fighting actual crime in Los Angeles.

Orgazmo premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in 1997 and was given the MPAA's strictest rating of NC-17, leading to it having a very limited theatrical release in the US. Which is understandable considering that it's definitely the most out-there project the duo have ever worked on. Orgazmo also serves as one of the first example of Trey Parker's obsession with Mormons, the main character a mormon missionary, future episodes of South Park would focus on the religion and most famous of all, the Tony-winning musical, The Book of Mormon, which Parker and Stone wrote with songwriter, Robert Lopez. While some may see it as crude, tasteless, and offensive, Orgazmo truly is one of the most original films I have ever seen, and I've got to give them props for that. Despite also being hit with negative critical reviews, the movie has actually evolved into much more of a cult classic than Baseketball and still has a legion of loyal fans who love its insane premise and comedy, myself included.

But this is not the end of Parker and Stone's weird cinematic journey. We are now brought to their first feature length film, the black comedy western: Cannibal! The Musical.

It is literally impossible to find an HD copy of Cannibal! The Musical. It's an incredibly low budget film that Parker and Stone worked on while studying at CU Boulder. Released in 1993, the film is loosely based on the prospector, Alfred Packer who confessed to committing cannibalism in 1874 after a failed expedition through the San Juan Mountains of Colorado. Packer is played by Trey Parker while Matt Stone stars as fellow prospector, James Humphrey. Think of it as the Donner Party musical. Needless to say, the film was extremely low budget but that also adds to its charm, it has been adapted into several stage productions including Off-Broadway.

Cannibal! The Musical is probably the most personal of Parker and Stone's work. It's proof of just how much they can do with a pen, paper, and next to no budget. At the time, the legendary comedic duo were just kids in college with big dreams, it's a testament to their talent and it's hard not to get inspired by a story like that. The first iteration of the film came from a college assignment where Parker and Stone had to make a three minute long trailer and was partially inspired by Parker's resentment for his ex-fiancée, Liane, after finding out she cheated on him not long before their wedding. This was the inspiration for the disloyal horse in the film being named, Liane, who initially started as Packer's closest companion. See what I mean by personal?

Like the title suggests, the film is a musical, containing songs like "Let's Build a Snowman," "When I was On Top of You" and the thrice reprised: "Schpadoinkle." Like all of Parker and Stone's work, its strength comes from its refusal to be taken seriously. I mean, all of the Native Americans in the film are played by Japanese people. Out of all the films that have been discussed so far, Cannibal! The Musical has by far the largest following and is the most deserving of the title: "cult classic."

In the 31 years since Cannibal! The Musical, Trey Parker and Matt Stone have starred in various other films, created a Tony-winning musical, and produced over three hundred episodes of South Park, one of the most successful shows in history. By examining these films, seeing where they got started, and how they slowly evolved into arguably the most successful comedy duo in Hollywood, I have gained a real, deep appreciation for their hard work and persistence. Going from two random guys from rural Colorado to the icons they are now, it's hard not to get inspired. It's proof that success is bound to come to those who are passionate and sure of what they want to do in life, and as a current college film student, that's just what I needed to see.

Thanks for reading, I hope you have a Schpadoinkle day!

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