- South Park: The Streaming Wars Part 2 redeemed the franchise, returning to its roots with biting commentary and clever jokes.
- South Park: Joining the Panderverse tackles both sides of the “woke” culture, cementing the show as a satirical powerhouse.
- South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut remains the best South Park movie, with a memorable story, hilarious comedy, and an Oscar-nominated soundtrack.
The South Park movies have been an exciting way to expand the beloved adult animated series into some bigger and bolder stories. Following its early success and impact on pop culture the show had, the first South Park movie was released in theaters in 1997 with South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut. Despite box office success and even an Oscar nomination, it remained the only South Park movie for some time. Now, two decades later more South Park movies are finally being produced. Since 2021, South Park has been contracted to create two movies each year for six years for the streaming platform Paramount+.
The feature-length specials represent a huge format change since South Park debuted over 20 years ago. Though South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut remains the only theatrical release in the franchise to date, the specials have allowed the show to explore topical ideas in long-form ways, making for some of the funniest material the show has ever made. While some South Park movies are better than others, they all capture the fearless humor and clever storytelling the series has become known for.
6 South Park The Streaming Wars
Released June 1, 2022
Although South Park The Streaming Wars isn’t bad, it simply fails to reach the same level as any other South Park movie. The movie sees Stan and Tolkien set up a boat service to test whether streams across South Park are suitable for supplying water to local residents. The South Park special satirizes the privatization of public goods, climate change, and over-working content creators, continuing the show’s form for taking on current issues. While it does have funny moments, The Streaming Wars suffers from a slow pace and the general absence of the core group of boys being together.
Cartman is usually South Park‘s show-stealer, but his subplot in The Streaming Wars is weak compared to his past exploits. Upset that he’s living in a fast-food stand, Cartman argues with his mom about getting breast implants to attract a rich husband. It’s a joke that wears out quickly and isn’t as clever as Cartman’s previous evil schemes, being a return to the dated low-brow toilet humor of earlier seasons.
Similarly, Randy Marsh’s story is underwhelming, as the movie once again draws from South Park‘s tired Tegridy Farms plot. The Streaming Wars‘ ending and story did continue on after this entry’s sudden ending, but the lack of closure and unanswered questions make it feel incomplete as a standalone movie. Fans of the show will find enough to make it worthwhile, but it pales in comparison to the other South Park movies.
5 South Park The Streaming Wars Part 2
Released On July 13, 2022
South Park immediately redeemed itself in South Park The Streaming Wars Part 2, as the sequel marked the return to the franchise roots. The fact that it’s a sequel to the disappointing first Streaming Wars does mean it is somewhat tied down from true greatness, however, South Park The Streaming Wars Part 2 was a great ending to the franchise’s 2022 releases.
This movie is also where South Park ends the Tegridy Farms plot, which isn’t the only reason for the sequel earning praise. South Park The Streaming Wars Part 2 also expertly makes fun of celebrities who’ve endorsed cryptocurrencies and NFTs, providing the biting commentary mixed with great jokes that long-time viewers have come to expect from the franchise. With the ending of South Park The Streaming Wars Part 2 bringing together Karen Marsh, ManBearPig, and Pi Pi — while resolving Cartman’s breast implant arc – the sequel improves on the weaknesses of the first part of the story.
South Park The Streaming Wars Part 2 and its ending are notable not only for saving the franchise but also for being the movie when South Park dropped trans humor. Indeed, it’s not a perfect movie but it signaled that South Park The Streaming Wars Part 2 was a step in the right direction for any fans worried about the quality control of the new slate of movies.
4 South Park: Joining The Panderverse
Released On October 27, 2023
The latest South Park movie continues to show the franchise’s talent for poking fun at both sides of an issue. Taking aim at the overuse of the multiverse concept in movies like Spider-Man: No Way Home and The Flash, South Park: Joining the Panderverse introduces a universe in which all the main South Park characters are portrayed as racially diverse women. While Cartman finds himself trapped in this world, he fights to return home while discovering that the cause behind all of this is Kathleen Kennedy and the latest “diverse” Disney projects that have been released.
Part of the problem with Joining the Panderverse is exactly what South Park is mocking in that the multiverse is a bit of a tired concept and the movie doesn’t find a lot more interesting to say about it. There is also the subplot involving Randy Marsh and his inability to hire a handyman because no one knows how to do anything anymore that doesn’t mesh with the overall story despite having some funny moments.
However, the fair and clever take-down of both sides of the “woke” culture is effective with the movie pointing out the lack of substance in companies’ having token diversity while also acknowledging simply shutting down everything as being “woke” is equally lazy. In this way, the movie continues to cement South Park as one of the best satirical voices in comedy.
3 South Park: Post Covid
November 25, 2021
South Park: Post Covid is set 40 years in the future and sees a middle-aged Stan Marsh return to South Park, having fallen out with Kyle, Cartman, and his family during the pandemic. Post Covid is cynical and dark, but it is full of classic South Park humor as the reunited friends attempt to figure out how they can go back and stop COVID-19 before it started by investigating the latest death of South Park‘s Kenny, who grew up to be a scientist. The main issue with Post Covid is that it only works as part of a two-part series because of its unresolved threads and cliffhanger ending.
Written and directed by South Park co-creator Trey Parker, Post Covid is full of jokes about the future and political correctness, but its best moments come when the movie pokes fun at the boy’s age. Supporting characters also get a chance to shine, particularly Jimmy Valmer with his sarcastic jokes and Clyde Donovan who is used to poke fun at anti-vaccination activists. The reveal that Cartman grows up to become a happily married father and rabbi pays off years of teasing towards Kyle — although the latter remains hilariously convinced that it is just another elaborate chapter in Kyle and Cartman’s ongoing feud.
2 South Park: Post Covid — The Return of Covid
Released On December 16, 2021
In the sequel to Post Covid, The Return of Covid, Stan and Kyle try to finish Kenny’s research and primary goal: trying to travel back in time to cure COVID-19. Standing in their way though is Cartman, whose underhanded tactics that defined their childhood come back to the surface because, unlike Stan and Kyle, he is happy with how life turned out so doesn’t want the past to change. A brilliant, modern twist on the franchise’s classic formulas, it is a great example of the more involved storytelling these specials allow for.
The Return of Covid has a more optimistic tone than Post Covid, as the boys change the course of their futures by manufacturing “one precedented time” to change the residents of South Park’s reaction to the pandemic. This hopeful spirit is balanced out by the incredibly bleak alternate future of Cartman. Rather than growing up to be a happy family man, Cartman becomes bitter and homeless in the alternate timeline. Some jokes carried over from Post Covid became stale, including Stan’s human Alexa, but The Return of Covid thankfully brings in fresh material as well, like adult Butters growing up to be a prolific NFT salesman.
1 South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut (1999)
Released On June 30, 1999
As successful as the newer movies have been, South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut just outdoes every other South Park movie in terms of story, overall execution, comedy, and even its soundtrack. The first movie sees Stan, Kyle, Cartman, and Kenny constantly cursing after watching the new R-rated movie by the Canadian double act Terrance and Phillip. Disgusted by the boy’s new vocabulary, their parents start a movement to execute Terrance and Phillip, and the United States declares war on Canada.
All the while, in Hell, Kenny tries to stop Satan and Saddam Hussein from conquering the world. Like some older episodes of South Park that haven’t aged well, elements of Bigger, Longer & Uncut don’t work today. The movie is still packed with the chaotic energy that early South Park is loved for, and the decision to make it a musical helped to differentiate it from the TV series.
The landmark South Park movie achieved critical success, with its peak achievement being a nomination for Best Song (“Blame Canada”) at the 2000 Academy Awards. What Bigger, Longer & Uncut benefits from the most compared to later movies is keeping the focus on Stan, Kyle, Cartman, and Kenny. Not every episode needs to star the four boys, but South Park specials should center around them as they’re the reason for the show’s success.
- Release Date:
- Trey Parker, Matt Stone
- Main Genre:
- Comedy, Sitcom
- Beginning in 1997, South Park has become one of the most successful and popular adult animations ever. The five-time Emmy-winning series follows Stan Marsh, Eric Cartman, Kyle Broflovski, and Kenny McCormick, as they find themselves in unbelievable situations in South Park, Colorado, while trying to navigate the world as fourth graders.
- Story By:
- Trey Parker
- Trey Parker
- Comedy Central
- Streaming Service:
- South Park
- Trey Parker
- Trey Parker