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Team America: World Police
An absurd, gut-busting, filthy little fun ride of a puppet movie
by Michael Koch on Oct 14, 2004
Team America: World Police is one vicious, vile, violent, piece of a puppet movie that flips the finger in the face of good taste and courtesy and injects a much-needed dose of humor into these oh-so-contentious, overly sanitary PC times.
Created by South Park bad boys Trey Parker and Matt Stone, who do their best to live up to their reputation as potty-mouthed equal-opportunity beater-uppers, TA takes pot shots at everything and everybody on the left, right, and center, while following the adventures of an army of five true-blue American puppet heroes and heroines on their mission to free the world from terrorists and weapons of mass destruction.
Nothing is sacred in Parker and Stone's deliberately primitive view of the state of political world affairs, least of all the world's most famed tourist attractions, including the Eiffel Tower and the Sphinx, which crumble under Team America's high-tech fire power -- all for the good cause of ridding the world of terrorists no matter what the cost to innocent human lives.
Gathering puppet look-alikes of Tim Robbins, Alec Baldwin, Sean Penn, Susan Sarandon, Martin Sheen, and Matt Damon among others, under the banner of the fictitious Film Actors Guild, otherwise known as F.A.G., and then teaming them up with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Il before slicing, dicing, and blowing them up in the film's Tarantino-inspired bloody finale won't get them brownie points with liberal Hollywood either. Nor will their mock attacks on the war of terrorism earn them an invitation to a White House dinner. But then, Parker and Stone are not in this to be loved and respected, but to challenge, in their own way, widely held beliefs many Americans have about their country and culture and how they influence and distort the way Americans perceive themselves.
To that end, Parker and Stone's twisted puppet-busting slug-fest also takes intermittently inspired stabs at the Bond franchise and at just about every major pathos-laden, jingoistic action epic from Top Gun to Pearl Harbor, with special consideration given to Jerry Bruckheimer/Michael Bay collaborations. At his palatial compound, Kim Jong-Il tells famed U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix, "Hans, Hans, you're breaking my balls!" before feeding him, Dr. No-style, to the sharks. In the air and under water, the Team America members discuss their feelings for each other while taking on the North Korean air force and navy. Inside Mount Rushmore, Michael Moore embarks on a suicide mission to blow up Team America's super computer, I.N.T.E.L.L.I.G.E.N.C.E., with explosives strapped around his unshapely body. And throughout, the dialog, if not foul-mouthed, goes pseudo-deep with such unforgettable instant classic lines as "Maybe feelings are feelings because we can't control them." or "Promise me you'll never die and I'll have sex with you right now" (which leads into the most steamy, graphic sex scene in mainstream puppet movie history, giving new meaning to the term woody).
Songs are, of course, a trademark of Parker and Stone, and TA serves up a smorgasbord of silly jingles and ballads that, while not necessarily music to all ears, pluck all the right strings to resound in no small laughing matter. Kim Jong-Il croons, Elmer Thudd-style and with his over-sized Mr. Maggoo glasses placed squarely on his face, "I'm So Ronery"; one of the Team America members declares his longing for his Top-Gun Kelly McGillis-type love interest, "I miss you just a little bit more than Michael Bay missed the mark in Pearl Harbor"; and every Team America mission is fired up to the heavy-metal vibe of "America, fuck yeah!"
Of course, much of Parker and Stone's bad taste is good fun and not to be taken too seriously. Underneath the mayhem and scatological humor, however, TA raises one very real and troubling question that should have everyone in the current Bush administration and many of their supporters on the alert: What does it feel like to be a true-blue American in a post 9/11 world where most of the rest of the world has just about had it with America's go-it-alone attitude, arrogance, and policies?
Stars: 3 out of 5
by Michael Koch on Oct 14, 2004