Lost Roles is a weekly column that takes a particular comedic actor or writer and dives deep into all of their movie and TV projects that came close to happening but didn’t for one reason or another. This week, we turn our attention to Trey Parker and Matt Stone, just in time for the premiere of South Park's 16th season next week.
One of the biggest duos in modern comedy, Trey Parker and Matt Stone have developed and refined a distinct style that emanates from all of their projects. From The Book of Mormon to South Park, That's My Bush! to Team America, Parker and Stone's trademark blend of raunch and social commentary truly differentiates their work from that of their peers.
While comedy fans all know the movies, shows, and Broadway plays that made the duo famous, let's take a look at some of the stuff Trey Parker and Matt Stone worked on that never made it to screens, including their prequel to Dumb & Dumber, an homage to Godzilla movies, and the That's My Bush! feature film spin-off that never came to be.
Dumb and Dumber prequel (in development with Parker/Stone 1997-1999)
During South Park's first season, Trey Parker and Matt Stone were hired to write the script to a prequel to Dumb & Dumber that followed the original film's characters in their high school years. At the time the Farrelly Brothers, who wrote and directed the first film, intended to make a sequel with the original cast, but the studio grew impatient when the project began to take so long and opted to go the prequel route. Parker and Stone were working on their Dumb & Dumber prequel for a couple years but told the press in 2000 that they had been too busy with South Park and the South Park movie that they couldn't completely focus on Dumb & Dumber, so they gave the money they were paid back to the studio. New writers were brought in to pen Dumb & Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd, which disappointed fans and betrayed the original in the way that Parker and Stone were afraid to.
Here's Parker explaining his decision to back out of this one in a 2000 interview with Playboy:
"We'd rather keep it quiet, but we gave the money back. It was another thing we took at the beginning of South Park. And they were really patient with us, but when the South Park movie happened, I felt like, for the first time, I could define what a Trey Parker-Matt Stone thing was. I could say, 'Here's what we're about.' And we felt that doing Dumb & Dumber was a big step-not necessarily backward, but in a different direction, after we had worked so hard to define our style."
As of last year, the Farrelly Brothers are still at work on a Dumb & Dumber sequel with original stars Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels also onboard.
Fuzzies (unproduced, in development 1998)
Trey Parker sold his script to Fuzzies, a live action feature film about a mentally disabled child trying to save his hometown from an invasion of tiny blue fuzzy monsters, to Paramount in 1998, with Hollywood mega-producer Scott Rudin (No Country for Old Men, The Social Network) signed on, as well. Parker had written the script two years prior, before South Park premiered, but his newfound TV success allowed him to sell the project, which was budgeted at $20 million. Parker backed out of making Fuzzies, explaining, "The only way I could do it is if I left South Park…They wanted to do it in January. I said no. They freaked out. They're like, `How can you not want to do a Paramount movie?'"
George W. Bush and the Secret of the Glass Tiger (unproduced, in development 2001)
After Comedy Central axed That's My Bush!, Parker and Stone's live action sitcom about George W. Bush, the duo began working on a spin-off film titled George W. Bush and the Secret of the Glass Tiger. Here's how Matt Stone described the movie's plot:
"We want to make a really [messed up] spoof of basically the Cold War fear movies where the Russians just ate babies and were like super mean and bad all the time — but do it with the Chinese. And George W. Bush has to save the world a la John Woo/Mission: Impossible style."
Stone went on to compare the show's transition to the big screen to how Police Squad!'s failure on TV begat the Naked Gun movies. Bush and the Glass Tiger was abandoned soon after it was announced, possibly because of 9/11. The movie was announced in August of 2001, just a few weeks before the tragedy. Parker and Stone then chose to make Team America their top priority instead.
My All-American (unproduced, in development 2006-2008)
Trey Parker and Matt Stone have cited Team America's exhaustive production as the reason they haven't made any movies since. Balancing a feature with South Park's hectic schedule can't be easy, so it's hard to blame them. Says Trey Parker, "Team America just about killed us. Literally, just about killed us. And we sort of came out of that going, 'All right, let's never make movies again.' But we say that all the time, just about every time we finish a movie. But we kind of thought for a while that what we were sensing ourselves becoming was producers, because when we're killing ourselves on a movie, we would look over and see the producers eating a sandwich, and we'd think, 'Wow, that's what we should be doing.' So we're like, 'Let's go start finding other people's work, and we'll produce stuff and let everyone else do the work.'"
Parker and Stone announced they were developing two new movies in 2006, both written by others. The first one they intended to film was My All-American, a high school comedy scripted by Jeff Roda. My All-American never entered into production as Parker and Stone stayed busy with working on South Park and seem to have completely abandoned the movie.
Giant Monsters Attack Japan! (unproduced, in development 2006-2008)
The other movie Parker and Stone signed on for in 2006 was Giant Monsters Attack Japan!, a PG-rated throwback to '50s Godzilla movies written by J.F. Lawton (Pretty Woman, Under Siege). Trey Parker was planning on directing with Matt Stone producing. Here's the movie's logline:
"Prompted by a corporate transfer, a father and son move to Japan and find that all the fantastic elements of the son’s favorite Japanese movies – Godzilla, giant robots, secret ninja cults, etc. – are a real and borderline mundane aspect of everyday Japanese life."
Production on this one still has yet to begin and it doesn't seem like Parker and Stone, who are occupied with South Park's 16th season and the movie and play versions of The Book of Mormon, are laboring on it as of this writing.
Bradford Evans is really happy he made it through this whole article without once accidentally referring to these guys as "Matt Parker and Trey Stone."