A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that the show South Park is not intended for younger viewers. The satire involved requires some perspective on kids' parts. Despite the cartoon format and the youth of the main characters, the issues and humor in each episode are geared toward more mature audiences who won't be tempted to imitate anything they hear on the show. Characters curse frequently, although the extreme language is bleeped. Graphic insults and discussions that take place are also not appropriate for younger viewers. There is not much on-screen violence, but there are some creepy scenes where a young character spearheads an anti-Semitic agenda. The social issues, centering on ethnic intolerance and hate mongering, are also not suggested for younger viewers.
What's the story?
SOUTH PARK: THE PASSION OF THE JEW deals with the small town of South Park's reaction to Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ. On one side is Cartman, who sees the film as a call to arms to wage war against the Jews. On the other, is Kyle who embraces his Jewish faith and launches a protest against Cartman's proposed regime. Meanwhile, Stan and Kenny, unsatisfied with the film, set off to L.A. to get refunds in person from Gibson. They arrive to find Gibson a certifiable lunatic. A shocked Stan and Kenny hightail it home (with Gibson not far behind), in time to find the town split into warring factions -- one led by Cartman and his brown-shirted minions, the other, led by Kyle and his mother's seemingly on-call protest posse. Will they learn to put aside their differences, learn religious tolerance, and get their money back?
Is it any good?
South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker hit the mark here, taking to task the media feeding frenzy that came before, during, and after the release of Passion of the Christ. The Passion of the Jew is emblematic of South Park, in that it takes current controversial issues, places them in absurd situations, still managing to skewer both sides while providing insightful commentary. In this case, it's religious zeal and political correctness that are brought into question. Although at times lowbrow, Passion effectively addresses the hype surrounding this event and ones similar. It may be one of their best episodes to date -- which is saying a lot for a show that's been on for more than 10 years.
The DVD includes two bonus episodes, Christian Rock Hard and Red Hot Catholic Love that fall along similar thematic lines. Parents should know that The Passion of the Jew is not intended for young viewers. They may want to consider holding a discussion with their children to clarify issues being addressed on the show.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the show's comment on the potential influence of the media. In this case Cartman adopting an anti-Semitic attitude after viewing Passion of the Christ. Do people look to movies to help them make decisions and form opinions? Families might also want to discuss the show's attitude toward serious issues. Are the show's creators making good points or just being silly? Do the lessons of the show apply to itself?