Saturday, September 04, 2004

Movies: "Cannibal! The Musical"

People will either love or hate this movie. If you don't like lowbrow humor with occasional blood, steer clear. If you love "bad on purpose" films, and whether you love or loathe musicals, this one is for you.

Trey Parker has taken a true and disgusting story of cannibalism in Colorado in the 1870's... and set it to music! Many potential viewers will shy away from such an odd concept, dismissing it out of hand without seeing the film. This is a shame, as they will be missing one of the best "worst" films ever.

"Cannibal!" has all the good and bad qualities of a musical, wrapped up together in a wonderfully silly, messy package. If you aren't careful, the songs are catchy enough to stay in your head for days. (Just try getting the "Trappers' Song" out of your mind once you've heard it!) The characters tend to start singing for no apparent reason, and most of the songs have a cheerful musical feel... despite their somewhat morbid or offbeat lyrics! In one scene, a recently-dead character even threatens to sing while his companions contemplate whether or not to eat him! There is choreography, in this case executed in a painfully amateurish (yet charming) manner... the "tap dance" in "Let's Build a Snowman" is not to be missed!

The acting and production has a "gee-whiz" feel, and it is very apparent that this movie was lots of fun to make. The costumes and effects, including the fake beards, fake blood/organs and fake frostbite, are hilarious. So is the fake gore in the opening sequence... simply wonderful stuff! The color on the DVD is atrocious, looking like the treatment from a 1950's color western. Through all this, it becomes apparent that Parker has an obvious love of films and of film history, as this movie satirizes many conventions of American musicals made 40-50 years ago.

While I enjoyed Parker's role as the lead character Alferd Packer, I think Matt Stone and Dian Bachar also turn in fine performances in this film. For those of you who have seen "Baseketball" and loved Bachar's role in that movie, he also shines in "Cannibal!". He has a lesser role here, but his talents are used to great advantage. Stone's role here (as a near-total doofus), is delightfully over-the-top at times...

Trey Parker seems to show a certain amount of comic genius in most things he does. This movie is no exception. There is a lot more to Parker than "South Park", and if you love his smart-ass sense of the absurd, you will love "Cannibal! The Musical"!


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