BASEketball: Matt Stone & Trey Parker’s obscure non-South Park flick deserves some love

At the beginning of their rise to fame, South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker starred in an obscure (but funny) movie called BASEketball.

Last Updated on May 24, 2024

What exactly is BASEketball anyway? If you’re a child of a certain era, you know exactly what it is. If not, well, let me explain. In the late nineties, the hottest comic duo was no doubt Trey Parker and Matt Stone. Together, they had charted a unique path to stardom. Two University Of Colorado grads, the two had their beginnings in the early nineties when they made a micro-budget indie called Cannibal: The Musical, which, despite failing to get into the Sundance Film Festival, became kind of a calling card for them. It got them a unique job directing a corporate film about Universal Pictures for Seagrams, who were acquiring the company, thanks to the patronage of David Zucker, one of the directors behind The Naked Gun, Top Secret and Airplane, who was a fan of their movie. They parlayed their success into a low-budget comedy called Orgazmo, which starred Parker as a pornographic superhero, which was a hit at TIFF and was acquired for a million dollars by October Films, who were not able to release it widely when it got slapped with an NC-17.

Around this time, they produced a short film called The Spirit of Christmas, which introduced the world to the South Park gang and happened to come along in the early days of the internet, meaning it was one of the first shorts to go viral. Indeed, I remember taking hours to download one of the earliest versions of Quicktime and watching the highly pixelated short over and over. It led to them getting a deal to produce a little show you might have heard of, and the rest is history.

The only time Matt & Trey didn’t write their material

Yet, there’s a forgotten chapter in the saga of Matt and Trey. Between South Park’s early success and their big-screen hit, South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut, which gave them legit critical respectability, the pair starred in a movie for their old patron David Zucker – BASEketball. It remains the only project the two have ever acted in that they didn’t write, direct or produce themselves, and it was a major box office flop that’s become unfairly obscure over the years. But, if you grew up in the late nineties and liked South Park, chances are you saw it when it hit video – and probably more than once. You see, once upon a time, we had a place called video stores, where people would come in, rent these things called video tapes, watch them, and then return them the next day. Or, well, that was the hope of anyone, as having worked at a video store, this movie, along with Half Baked and Mallrats, was one of the most MIA titles ever, as the stoners who rented it often forgot to return it, or couldn’t find it when we called them to ask where it was. 

So what’s the deal with BASEketball, and what does the title even mean? Well, obviously, it’s about a sport that’s a mix of baseball and basketball, albeit with a liberal amount of humiliation worked in and very little physical prowess needed. It was actually a game Zucker himself invented and played with his friends and that he once tried to turn into a TV series. Indeed, a BASEketball pilot starring Chris Rock exists, but it’s never surfaced

It was originally designed as a Chris Farley comedy before Zucker got the idea to cast his young proteges in the leads. Indeed, Orgazmo was becoming a cult hit, and South Park got Matt and Trey on magazine covers, giving them a pretty hefty dose of fame. Neither man had any illusions about it lasting, so they took on the film thinking South Park would be cancelled by the time they started filming. Twenty-six years later, it’s still on the air. As such, they filmed this movie during the day and made new South Park episodes at night, and indeed Matt and Trey never starred in a live-action movie again. However, punishing schedules would become a mainstay for the duo, with them making movies like Team America and a Broadway play, The Book of Mormon, while still producing their show. Both would be major hits, which this was not.

A late nineties, VHS cult hit

So, as opposed to their more ambitious work on their own, BASEketball was never intended to be much more than a standard racy comedy, but it’s worth saying that the film is pretty funny. Many of the jokes fall flat, but Matt and Trey do a great job delivering the insults and one-liners they use to psych out players, with their friend Dian Bashar playing the butt of many of their jokes, Squeak. A movie like BASEketball is likely too rude ever to get made now, but all the most inappropriate jokes from the movie still make me laugh. Matt and Trey have an innocence about them, but it’s worth noting that whenever they’re not onscreen, the movie isn’t all that funny. Luckily, they’re on-screen a lot. Another appealing thing about the film is that it co-starred two of the biggest sex symbols of the nineties, and no, I’m not talking about Robert Vaughn and Ernest Borgnine. Jenny McCarthy and Yasmine Bleeth co-star and look incredible, with McCarthy a rising star on MTV (and in Playboy) at the time, and Bleeth being in the middle of her run on Baywatch. And yeah, old pros Vaughn and Borgnine class it up a bit, but I’m not sure whose idea it was to have Borgnine do a striptease to Right Said Fred’s “I’m Too Sexy.” That scene could have maybe gone to McCarthy, right? Anyone?

baseketball film

Reviews for BASEketball were pretty poor, but if you were a teen at the time and rented the tape, you probably dug it as much as I did. Considering how popular a title it’s been for Universal, you’d think it would have gotten a big re-release with extras at some point, but I suppose it’s a movie Matt and Trey want to leave in the rearview mirror, as one can’t say they’re aren’t keeping busy, that’s for sure. But, if you want some lewd and crude laughs, give it a watch

Originally published at https://www.joblo.com/baseketball-matt-parker-trey-stones-obscure-non-south-park-flick-is-a-lot-of-fun/

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