South Park's Imaginationland is a very ambitious "trilogy" that aired last season. The premise: after seeing a leprechaun (more on that later), the boys are whisked by magic flying machine to Imaginationland, where all the characters created though our imagination live in harmony together. However, Islamic terrorists attack the land and break down the barrier between "good" imaginary characters (Strawberry Shortcake, Luke Skywalker, Ronald McDonald) and evil ones (Freddy Kruger, Frankenstein, Khan from Strar Trek II), which causes our "imaginations to run wild." It is up to boys (mainly Butters, who is left behind during the attack) to save Imaginationland before it is nuked by our government. Oh, and as a side story, Kyle has to perform a rather degrading act on Cartman for losing a bet (Kyle bet there were no such things as leprechauns - and lost).
Amazingly, the storyline effectively parodies Star Wars, Lord of the Rings and Stargate, all virtually at the same time - with references to The Chronicles of Narnia and Saving Private Ryan included as well.
It's also fun seeing trying to see how many imaginary characters you can recognize. Off the top of my head, I recall seeing a Smurf, Cinderella, Count Chocula, Neo from The Matrix, Popeye, the Cavity Creeps ("we-make-holes-in-TEETH!") and Waldo, just to name a few. I'm sure I could watch the DVD again and see others I missed the first time around.
Furthermore, the infamous "Woodland Critter Christmas" characters are back. For those unfamiliar, these seemingly cute critters are from the twisted mind of Cartman, and thus they are truly evil. One of the funniest moments in the story is when Jason from Friday the 13th remarks, "Man. I'd hate to meet the kid who thought those things up!"
Overall, while I enjoyed the episode, I was left thinking there could have been more. In particular, the side story, Cartman's absolute obsession with Kyle paying his part of the best, is pretty much a "one joke" storyline that's not only crude but goes on too long. It becomes a distraction from the more interesting and funnier main story and weakens the story overall.
Furthermore, South Park's consistent willingness to offend comes with the territory but can alter one's overall enjoyment of the story. There will be moments that will offend nearly every viewer, be they disturbing violence and gore, digs at organized religion, or blatant, crude sexual references throughout (then again, this IS South Park).
Would I watch it again?
Yes. It's a funny and creative "trilogy" and fun to try to see how many characters one can identify in Imaginationland. However, it doesn't rank among their best work. After a strong start, it gets too bogged down at times with the Cartman side story, when the possibilities are endless with what they could do in Imaginationland. It will strongly appeal to South Park fans, but might not appeal as much to the casual viewer.
NOTE: The DVD features some quality extras, including a running commentary by creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone and two full-length episodes starring evil characters seen in Imaginationland: "ManBearPig" and the controversial "Woodland Critter Christmas."
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