BOOTLEG FILES 219: “Your Studio and You” (1996 promotional film directed by Matt Stone and Trey Parker).
LAST SEEN: Available on several online sites.
AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: None.
REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS: The film was never meant to be seen publicly.
CHANCES OF SEEING A COMMERCIAL DVD RELEASE: Zilch.
In 2001, a curious little film turned up on iFilm. Shot in black-and-white and running about 15 minutes, it offered an amazing all-star cast engaged in a wild and weird riff of 1950s educational movies – all at the expense of the Seagram Company’s acquisition of Universal Studios.
Even more unusual was a subsequent interview on Zap2It.com that revealed who created this oddity: Matt Stone and Trey Parker, the “South Park” fathers. And there was the kicker: this was the first time they saw the film, titled “Your Studio and You,” since its creation in 1996.
Stone and Parker came to make this film thanks to David Zucker, who saw their pre-“South Park” animated short “The Spirit of Christmas.” Zucker gave them the commission to create a promotional film that would be shown to the Universal executives following the studio’s absorption into the Seagram family. A galaxy of Universal-connected stars was brought in to film cameo appearances. But whether through an accident or a deliberate oversight, Zucker failed to mention there was no script for the project. Stone and Parker were forced to improvise their film on the spot.
The result is an amusing, but not hilarious, putdown of life in a new Seagram-run Universal. The new parent company is seen as being eager to beautiful everything related to its new operations – mostly by planting porcelain deer statues at every imaginable location. Employees are rewarded with endless supplies of Seagram Wine Coolers, and nearly everyone in the cast reacts to the new surroundings in a seemingly narcotized-lobotomized vision of robotic happiness.
Throughout the proceedings, a stuffy narrator points out how the new management is getting rid of everything that’s “old and stupid” at Universal. The “old and stupid” remark is repeatedly run against the mechanical shark display at the Universal Studios Tour – with Stephen Spielberg as the tour bus driver attempting to whip up the frenzy of his bored passengers (including Jeffrey Katzenberg in a porkpie hat).
Elsewhere in the film, the Universal family is shown in absurd glee over their new Seagram superiors. Demi Moore comes out as a Donna Reed-style housewife who just baked a ham for her hubby. Traci Lords is a 50s-style starlet driving a convertible to the studio front gates. Angela Lansbury is gleefully painting the Bates mansion on the “Psycho “ set. James Cameron is planting a tree while muttering “sweeten, enhance, beautify.” Shaun Cassidy is mowing a lawn while wearing a suit and tie and drinking a Seagram Wine Cooler. And John Singleton is seen directing a pile of wood on the set of his new film: “Shut Your Honky A*s Mouth, Cracker Boy.”
But that’s just the movie brigade. Universal also stretches into publishing (Robin Cook is seen with his newest novel, which is printed in script format to save time for the inevitable screen version) and music (country star Marty Stuart and a ridiculously well-behaved rapper Heavy D turn up).
But not all is well in this world. Michael J. Fox keeps popping up, asking for endless clarifications on what’s going on around him. And a brutally rude Darren Pfeiffer offers the rocker-rebel in this exchange:
Narrator: Here’s the drummer from the hot new band Goldfinger. Say, young whippersnapper, how would you like to be a part of the Universal/MCA Corporation?
Darrin Pfeiffer: F**k you. Corporation bullshit, corporate w***e. F**k.
Narrator: Ooo! That teen angst sells a lot of records for Universal. Give that man a wine cooler!
Darrin Pfeiffer: [takes a swig, does a spit-take] This is s**t! F**k you!
The film does possess one true laugh-out-loud moment of brilliance involving three men who require subtitling – a Latino, an Arab, and someone else who I am not identifying here (if you get to see the film after reading this, I’ll be spoiling the joke by revealing it).
But beyond that one great joke (which, unwisely, is repeated a few times), “Your Studio and You” never truly soars. Yes, it is pleasant as a mega-star home movie. But the spoof on the educational movie genre wears thin very quickly, and it ultimately becomes variations of the same joke. And when Stone and Parker need to refer to sophomoric puns (Universal City Studios, or UCS, leads to statements of “It’s UCS For Me!”), you know that unpleasant scratching sound is the barrel’s bottom being scraped.
If “Your Studio and You” wasn’t exactly a laugh-riot, at least it got Stone and Parker into Hollywood. You don’t need me to tell you the rest of their story.
As for the film itself, there’s no clear explanation of how it escaped from Universal for the Internet – it was never meant to be seen publicly, which was one reason why so many stars turned up for guest appearances. Even Stone and Parker were unaware of its return, as neither was allowed to have copies of the film out of fear of unauthorized release. But it is out there, and bootlegs of the film can easily be found online, although their visual quality is mostly mediocre.
Fans of Stone and Parker may be disappointed in this film, since its humor is much more subdued than their classic crass output. Nonetheless, “Your Studio and You” was an interesting stepping stone, and their fans may enjoy this rare glimpse of the duo at the start of their careers.
IMPORTANT NOTICE: The unauthorized duplication and distribution of copyright-protected material, either for crass commercial purposes or profit-free s***s and giggles, is not something that the entertainment industry appreciates. On occasion, law enforcement personnel boost their arrest quotas by collaring cheery cinephiles engaged in such activities. So if you are going to copy and distribute bootleg videos and DVDs, a word to the wise: don’t get caught. Oddly, the purchase and ownership of bootleg videos is perfectly legal. Go figure!