This blog’s loyal follower pointed out that the failure to include hyperlinks to the original review is making this even more unreadable than it would otherwise be. Links to sources being reviewed will be included moving forward, and will be added retroactively to previous entries.
MOVIE IN QUESTION: Cannibal! The Musical, 1996
AUTHOR OF REVIEW BEING REVIEWED: Anita Gates, New York Times
I will start quite bluntly by saying that Gates’ review just didn’t do it for me. Cannibal! The Musical, the deranged brainchild of South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone, is a musical comedy that is every critic’s dream. Its bizarre song lyrics, silly humor and general absurdity gives a reviewer the chance to really shine and come up with a truly entertaining critique, regardless of what he or she thought of Parker’s effort.
It is this fact that made Gates’ review so disappointing. Her work is without doubt the least interesting of anything we’ve looked at so far- even kevdmac had his moments, albeit by accident- and there is really no excuse.
The review begins ominously, as Anita gives potential viewers some very poor advice: “Try to arrive a few minutes late for ‘Cannibal: The Musical.’ That way you'll miss the revolting sight of bloody, amputated body parts, the trademarks of Troma, the filmmakers who gave the world ‘The Toxic Avenger’ and ‘Surf Nazis Must Die!’” First of all, I don’t think anyone appreciates a critic taking a low blow at The Toxic Avenger. Secondly, advising people to skip the hilariously violent beginning of this or any movie seems ridiculous, as this will often be the high point of the film.
On a more positive note, paragraph three accurately describes the film’s potential, noting that it is “amateurish but has flashes of real humor.” Gates has hit on a key point: that while parts of the movie seem to get away from them, the comedic talent of Parker and Stone is still very obvious.
For the rest of her review, Gates bores us to tears with flat, uninspired plot summary: “The men he travels with from Utah to Colorado are not a particularly bright or tough bunch. When they meet a group of trappers, they're horrified to learn that trapping involves killing little animals. When a man gets unruly, he's sentenced to a 20-minute ‘time out’... Along the way, before the cannibalism, they build a snowman, encounter a Confederate cyclops and pursue a horse thief.” Yawn.
An oversight in editing also led to an egregious error: the “time-out” to which people are occasionally sentenced lasts 60 minutes, during which they must sit 20 feet away from the rest of the group. I thought this was the New York Times. Get your facts straight, folks.
At no point does Gates mention the satirical nature of the film, which pokes fun at many aspects of traditional musicals with its cheesy ballads and preposterous lyrics. In the end, she makes a mockery of her review in an attempt to draw on peoples’ familiarity with South Park to get a laugh: “Imagine the film taking place in ‘South Park’ animation. If Cartman were ripping that man's arm off and eating it, it might be cute.”
Would Cartman ripping a man’s arm off and eating it be cute? Yes. Does it have anything to do with anything? Absolutely not. I think Anita missed the boat on this movie. Some might say that a musical comedy about cannibalism doesn’t deserve a top-rate review, but in this blogger’s opinion, anything worth doing is worth doing right. Quite simply, this movie deserved better.
FINAL GRADE OF GATES’ REVIEW: 1 / 4 stars
More to follow.