Special Sneak Preview Movie Review!!!
Team America: World Police
Trey Parker and Matt Stone have a very angry side. I got that feeling around the seventh graphic killing of a puppet representing a Noted Hollywood Liberal near the conclusion of the upcoming "Team America", which I caught at one of the many sneak preview screenings being held across the country. It was sort of funny when Michael Moore, mustard staining his chin and shirt, executed a suicide bombing in Team America's secret fortress, deep within Mount Rushmore. It was amusing when Janeane Garofalo got her head shot open, brains splattering around. It got a little boring by the time Helen Hunt was sliced in half with a samurai sword. And by the end of it all, well, I'll concede that I was amused in a wish-fulfillment way. Not my wishes, but in sensing the filmmakers getting their kicks by breaking up those toys, those rich and powerful people that they've now got dangling on their strings. But it's distressing, just a little bit. On the ride home one of the people I saw the film with noted that you usually don't see that sort of nakedness on the screen.
It wouldn't be totally correct to call "Team America" a 'conservative' satire. Some early scenes have the Team blasting apart foreign property and even civilians, followed by some shots of people standing around, looking dazed at the carnage. One of the team members literally sucks the cock of an ultra-rich fellow, to prove his allegence to Protecting Freedom. There's a quick gag about faulty US intelligence (the Team's supercomputer is handily called I.N.T.E.L.L.I.G.E.N.C.E.) and some other assorted bits. I guess it'd be more accurate to say that Parker and Stone (and co-writer Pam Brady, a "South Park" vet) are taking on all of the stupid things they see in today's politics. They just find liberals to be 8,939% stupider than conservatives.
Or perhaps it's just Hollywood Liberals that piss Parker and Stone off. The rage of young conservatives in a money-rich world of Limosine Leftists, of uninformed babbling by the privliged few. But are Parker and Stone any more informed for simply not being 'Hollywood'? I understand that Parker and Stone work their own politics into thier art, their satire, and there's a gap between that and simply blabbing your 'insights' to the cameras. And yet there's still something unsettling to me watching a film that's in large part about telling other performers to shut up simply for talking. Ah, but the filmmakers have already immunized themselves from such criticisms anyway. The show pushes everything so far over the top, it doesn't particularly advocate anything. It's nothing but jabs. Even a climactic speech about finding a middle ground between extremes (the presumed point of it all) seems totally artificial, just another part of the gag. It's the satire as black hole, devouring everything and ejecting nothing.
Right. So if it's all a joke, is it a funny one? Sometimes. The "Team America" team know their stupid action films inside and out, there's no doubt. I'm even tempted to say that the film's constant liberal-bashing is meant to reflect the politics of action films like "Rambo" or "Death Wish", but sights appear to be set more at the (again) Big Hollywood Blockbuster style. There's hyper-cliche romantic subplots (even a triangle), a hot-head rebel member who doesn't play by the rules and doesn't trust the new guy. There's tragedy and dark secrets in everyone's past. Several scenes cite other action films, ranging from a very obvious "Kill Bill" homage to a sequence with Hollywood Stars sneering at prisoners of war that I want to say is inspired by Lionel Chetwynd's "The Hanoi Hilton", but I may be stretching things. And the movie is at its best when the limits of Parker and Stone's all-puppet style rub up against their spoofish ambition. A kung-fu fight consists of nothing but two puppets being slammed together over and over; now that's funny. There's lots of blood and vomit. A porno-style multi-position sex scene (tellingly, the Team has no genitals). And even songs, one of which was transplanted directly from a "South Park" episode (the classic "Montage" number). A truely awesome scene with live-action kittens. And lots and lots of gay humor too (the Evil Rich Liberals belong to the Film Actors Guild, of course), but fortunately anal sex plays a vital role in defeating evil at the end, which makes everything OK, eh?
But by the end, where the arch-baddie exchanges speeches with a Team member about how there's no room for true heroism left in the world, and Danny Glover gets his throat ripped out (those Troma roots are showing Trey!), and all of the nations of the world fall under the crafty spell of wealthy peacefreaks (and they're careful to include England in there... balance), it starts to drag. Maybe if I had that fire in my belly it'd be different. But who can get fired up by non-stop horseplay? Where the serious bits are jokes like the jokes? It's all a lot of nothing that seems totally convinced that it's about something. But maybe they were just busting my balls about that too. Who knows?