Brian Graden (developer), Trey Parker (creator) |1 more credit »
Trey Parker, Matt Stone, Jennifer Howell
Review by Mary Cox
“White People Renovating Houses”
South Park is one of those cultural cornerstones that people have looked to for commentary on social and political issues over the past two decades. In a return to Season 8’s episode “Goobacks,” Darryl and South Park’s other xenophobic rednecks are rallying over being replaced by automation. This episode has several direct visual references to the recent Charlottesville protests, Tiki Torches and all.
It seems like class is very much going to be the thematic focus of this season. We start with the the anger of middle-class whites, like the Marsh family, upset about damage done to the “white brand” by conservative protesters. However, there’s some clear miscommunication regarding Randy’s take on the motives of the Confederate flag-waving horde who are hurting the “white image.”
In the “come to Jesus” speech Randy gives to Darryl, the tonal focus is more about morals, and less about economics. The implication is that a superficial change in lifestyle, such as that created by a home renovation, is symbolic of a massive shift in the foundation of someone’s beliefs. In other words, you can deal with the problems of conservative white Americans by providing them with the illusion of a bourgeois middle-class lifestyle.
This is highly emblematic of the fundamental cultural divide in the United States, whereas the issue splitting the country into two angry sides isn’t necessarily related to politics, but to class. Even if Darryl’s lifestyle and cultural perspective can be “rehabilitated,” how can the issue of economic displacement caused by automation be resolved?
Coal mining jobs are never coming back, truck driving jobs are on the way to irrelevancy with self-driving cars, and most basic retail and food service positions are on their way out as well. If the jobs AI is replacing are, as Darryl says, “degrading and menial,” and good jobs are exclusively restricted to university graduates, as is asserted by Randy, what options do working-class people like Darryl even have? It will be interesting to see the solutions provided by Matt Stone and Trey Parker over the course of this season.
Film Review: DESPICABLE ME 3 (USA 2017) ***
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Gru meets his long-lost charming, cheerful, and more successful twin brother Dru who wants to team up with him for one last criminal heist.
Directors: Eric Guillon, Kyle Balda
Writers: Cinco Paul, Ken Daurio
Stars: Steve Carell, Kristen Wiig, Trey Parker
Review by Gilbert Seah
There are two attractive ingredients in the DESPICABLE ME animated features. One is the super-villain Gru (Steve Carell) or now ex-super villain Gru now working for the AVL (Anti-Villain League). The other are the adorable mumbling Minions. If one is not entertaining one enough, the other strive to be.
The film opens not with the Minions or Gru but with the story of a new super villain named Balthazar Bratt (voiced by South Park’s co-creator Trey Parker). Bratt was a former child actor who portrayed a young super villain in a popular television series before the show was cancelled as a result of his puberty and his waning popularity. This led to him adopting his former persona to become an actual super villain (complete with 80’s eraser head haircut and fashion). Bratt is out to steal the world’s most expensive diamond, in order to fuel his robot invention to destroy Hollywood as revenge, but along arrive Gru and wife (Kristen Wiig) to stop him.
It is obvious that DESPICABLE ME pays homage to the PINK PANTHER films. For one, Inspector Clouseau was French as is director Coffin and the diamond is unashamedly coloured pink. When the diamond is in show, the music comes on, though not with the famous Henry Mancini tune, but with Michael Jackson’s BAD in this case. As Bratt steals the diamond, he moonwalks Michael Jackson style to the diamond.
The main story of DESPICABLE ME 3 involves Gru and Lucy fired from the AVL owing to their failure in capturing Bratt. The others are subplots – quite a number of them – ties in with this event. One of these are the minions who want Gry to go back being a villain. The Minions also have the talent of showing up anywhere and everywhere during the movie. Kids love this, as observed during the film’s promo screening. The kids would scream out every time (adults beware!) the little darlings appear. The subplots involve Lucy bonding with her three adoptive children. The main one involves Gru meeting up with his newly found brother (also voiced by Carell), a more flamboyant character, thanks to his mother (voiced by no less than Julie Andrews).
But with all the subplots including the main story, the film strugglers to create very funny moments or high points that would make this sequel memorable over the others (including THE MINIONS) or even over the other Illumination Entertainment animation like THE SECRET LIFE OF PETS.
The film appropriate premiered at the Annecy International International Film Festival, director Pierre Coffin being French as such. The film opens this weekend alongside two other comedies THE HOUSE and BABY DRIVER and though will face stiff competition should do well at the box-office this weekend coming off at number 1. It also helps that there are countless Minion fans, both adult and kids around the world that will forgive an average DESPICABLE ME sequel, which is very much what this one is. DESPICABLE 3 is good, predictable, harmless family fun.
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Happy Birthday: Trey Parker
Born: October 19, 1969 in Conifer, Colorado, USA
(On his friendship with partner and collaborator, Matt Stone): “If anything, the friendship becomes greater because you share something special together that you don’t share with your other friends”.
dir. David Zucker
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