TEAM AMERICA: WORLD POLICE
***** (out of 5)
October 15, 2004
Trey Parker as A BUNCH OF PUPPETS
Matt Stone as OTHER PUPPETS
Kristen Miller as LISA
Masasa as SARAH
Daran Norris as SPOTTSWOODE
Phil Hendrie as INTELLIGENCE
Directed by: Trey Parker
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
“Team America: World Police” is one of the ballsiest films to hit American cinema screens this year. But it’s not this way because it pokes fun at blind patriotism. No, it’s because it skewers the sacred cow of political correctness.
I went to college right when political correctness was first sinking its claws into our society. It seems nice at first. We don’t want to offend anyone, right? But over the past fifteen years, it has become the thought police that George Orwell predicted years ago. Before you knew it, kids were getting expelled for calling someone a water buffalo and major studios were reediting movies to remove lines that were offensive to special interest groups.
I respect the hell out of Trey Parker and Matt Stone to not only throw their movie in the face of anyone remotely P.C., but to also have the cajones to go so over the top with the political incorrectness that it is impossible not to laugh. Who else in Hollywood would make a film that has all the Arab terrorists speaking gibberish with the occasional “dirka, dirka” and “jihad, jihad” thrown in?
It bangs the drum for a war cry of “Bring back the fat black maid from Tom & Jerry!” To hell with offending anyone. If you can’t take a joke, that’s your tough crap!
In case you didn’t know from their groundbreaking show “South Park,” nothing is off limits to Parker and Stone. And they unload on everyone with both barrels. In the big picture, “Team America” is a spoof on all the high-octane action flicks that we’ve seen over the years. It’s Jerry Bruckheimer with puppets. They nail the cliches and make you realize things like Michael Bay’s “Pearl Harbor” really did suck.
Some might suggest that this film is a slap in the face to the War on Terror, but it finds equal (if not more) ammunition in the mamsy-pamsy way celebrities use their position of power to spout socialist political agendas. I read in the press kit for this film that Parker claims this will be their last Hollywood movie. And while I hope to see more out of these boys, this might be the case if they ever planned on working with Alec Baldwin, Susan Sarandon, Tim Robbins, Michael Moore, Martin Sheen, Danny Glover, Matt Damon or any of the other celebrities they skewer and roast in this movie.
Be warned if you go to this film: It’s extreme, even for puppets. There’s not just political humor, but gross-out humor and sexually explicit humor. One big news story about “Team America” was that Parker and Stone had to edit down a sex scene to avoid an NC-17 rating. Now, keep in mind that scene was edited, not removed. There’s still plenty of puppet sex – so much, mind you, that I can’t imagine how bad the unedited scene was. (God, I can’t wait for the DVD of this one to hit the streets!)
It’s also exceedingly violent, achieving bloody slapstick jokes that would get the movie banned if they were done on anyone but puppets. Also, the characters in this film are so foul-mouthed that they’ll make Kevin Smith blush, but that’s part of its charm. It’s not hard to throw profanity in a script, but it’s art to make it work. Like “South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut,” “Team America” is filled with profanity – but very well placed profanity (keeping in mind that even low-brow humor needs to be timed correctly).
But even without all the profanity, gross out humor and puppet sex, “Team America” is uniquely clever. It reminds me of the first “Austin Powers” film in that it’s a spoof of an entire genre. Still, you can’t help swallowing the stock plot points and falling in love with the characters. There’s plenty of subtle humor as well, including a clairvoyant team member who can’t even read her own mind and a surfer dude voice for a supercomputer.
On a more serious note, “Team America” offers a scary future – one in which North Korean leader Kim Jong Il is the number one bad guy in the world. Five years ago when “South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut” came out, they had Saddam Hussein as the villain. Back in the late 90s, I couldn’t help but think that Hussein was the least of our worries at the time, then four years later we go to war with Iraq. Parker and Stone have their finger on the pulse of international politics, and I can’t help but think their caricature of Kim Jong Il, while hilarious, is a harbinger for things to come.