Starring: Trey Parker, Matt Stone, Toddy Walters, Dian Bachar, Jon Hegel and Brad Gordon
Run Time: 1 hr. 35 mins
Plot Synopsis: Alfred Packer was a mountain guide and sole survivor of a party of pioneers that got lost in the mountains in winter. Accused and convicted of murdering and eating his travelling companions, he was to be executed by hanging. The movie begins at his trial, where he pleads his innocence to an unsympathetic audience. Only reporter Polly Pry will listen to his story, which is then related to the viewers in the form of flashbacks. As Packer and his gold-prospecting clients make their way through the forests and mountains, they encounter bemused Japanese Indians, an unimpressed group of mountain men and the brutal Rocky Mountain winter, all of which inspire the travellers to break out into song and dance.
Surely everyone has heard of South Park, and a good number of you know the names of the show’s creators, Trey Parker and Matt Stone. Recently, Trey and Matt have become just as well known for their movies as they have for South Park. Their recent hits, South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut and Team America: World Police, have further cemented their legacy as brilliantly funny guys. Sadly, most people know nothing about some of Trey and Matt’s previous works. The two have actually worked together on some really funny comedies that never got exposure to mainstream audiences. In many ways, these projects are funnier than anything the two have done on South Park, or in the previously mentioned movies. If you didn’t know anything about those projects, I suggest you start looking into it! Check Trey or Matt’s IMDB page for further information on them. I wanted to share with all of you my favorite of their projects, Cannibal! The Musical. What follows here is my review of one of the funniest (and most bizarre) comedies I have ever seen.
Cannibal! The Musical is the hilarious musical interpretation of the real life events that took place in/around Colorado territory before it had officially applied for statehood. Yes, this is a musical comedy about cannibalism. At times, this film is just as gross as the subject matter would imply. But it’s saving grace is that everything is done with a touch of humor, even the gross parts. Cannibal is very much a classic example of Trey and Matt’s style and sense of humor. If you listen carefully, you can hear the use of voices that are currently used in South Park. The jokes can be quite dark at times, while other times they are just plain silly. The jokes are also very witty, much in the same way that South Park is. Trey and Matt are clearly very intelligent guys. While many would just classify their work as just foul mouthed trash, those who really watch can see the social sarcasm. There is a wide range of humor displayed in this film, but before you are to continue with this review, you must ask yourself one simple question. Are you okay with some blood and gore in your comedy? Don’t let the question fool you, the film is not a non-stop blood fest. But many people may be turned away by the sequences depicting the deaths and subsequent cannibalism. It does not last long, and only in two parts of the film (opening sequence and toward the end of the film) Remember that I did say it is done with humor, and it very much is. You wouldn’t think that you could find yourself laughing about a person eating another person, but when you watch Cannibal, you just can’t help yourself.
Alfred Packer, the cannibal in question, is depicted in the opening sequence as a ravenous monster. It is very funny. Trey Parker plays Packer, and his facial expressions in the opening scenes are key. They seperate this character from other film cannibals like Hannibal Lector. He is not a dark, evil looking character, but more so a spoof of one. They make the subject matter laughable by going way over the top on everything. The acting, the songs, the gore, it’s all over the top. Some may argue that the acting in this film is poor, but I disagree. I believe it is intentional. It makes the characters charming. It makes the character memorable! This movie is all about the characters. Each one is unique; each one is a running joke in and of itself. There is the happy-go-lucky team of Mormon miners, the angry and sarcastic butcher’s son, the dim-witted know it all, the diminutive horny pervert, the Japanese “Native Americans”, the dirty French fur traders, and then there is Packer.
The actual story begins depicting Packer as a care free kind of guy, riding the love of his life (his horse) through Utah territory singing about how beautiful life is. When he stops to greet a friend, he gets caught up in a rally to convince miners to travel to Colorado territory in search of gold. Packer is chosen as the guide, and from this point on, his life becomes a downward spiral. Each event twisting this peaceful man into something completely different. He begins the trek to Colorado territory as a timid and reluctant guide, whose only care in the world is his beloved horse. Of all the characters in this movie, Alfred Packer is the funniest and most complex of them all. Even though Packer is on trial for his “acts of cannibalism,” he is a tragic figure. There is a feeling that there may be more to him and his story. Were it not for this, I believe most people would just turn this off before even giving the film a chance.
The best parts of this film have to be the musical numbers. Cannibal! The Musical features the most bizarre songs you’ve ever heard. Once you hear them, you will never forget them. The songs themselves very much mirror the progression of the main character in the film. As Packer begins the film very happy and serene, so does the first musical number begin very peacefully. The further you go into the story (thus the further you go into Packers dive into darkness) the darker the songs seem to get. Still, each one is hilarious. They are not songs you could sing to yourself whilst walking down the street (unless you want people to stare at you or point and yell ‘Crazy Person!’) But they are songs that will forever be burned into your memory immediately after you first hear them. They are silly, stupid, and laugh out loud hilarious.
This movie will change the way you think about South Park, about Trey and Matt, about musicals, and about comedy. It is not something you will soon forget. You don’t want to miss this hilarious and twisted tale of cannibalism. The film would be classified as an ‘indie’ release, and it may be hard for you to find a DVD copy. If you ever see it, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND that you pick it up and give it a watch. Cannibal! The Musical can be called many things. It could easily be called the funniest movie about cannibalism ever made. It could be called the funniest musical ever made. It could be called one of the most under-rated comedies of all time! I call it a classic. This is one of my personal favorites. Cannibal! The Musical does not fail in any way, shape, or form.