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Judy Thorburn's Movie Reviews

Team America: World Police

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Judy Thorburn

Team Americ: World Police

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“TEAM AMERICA – WORLD POLICE” – ‘RIGHT’ ON TARGET

Those bad boy creators of Comedy Central’s cartoon series South Park just love pushing buttons with their wicked sense of humor.   So, if you are a fan of that show, Team America – World Police is right up your alley.  Just make sure your kids stay home when you make this trip to the movies. There is good reason this film has been rated R, although I believe NC-17 would be more appropriate.  Trey Parker and Matt Stone chose to replace their typical cartoon characters with puppets, and I can almost guarantee you have never seen a puppet show like this one.  The stars are actually marionettes and their actions and dubbed dialogue are strictly for the more mature, adult audiences, if you know what I mean.

In Team America – WP, Parker and Stone take a controversial stab at the political climate in the world and, specifically, our nation’s position against global terrorism.  If that subject isn’t touchy enough, just imagine this scenario played out by wooden (literally) characters in a story filled with over the top violence, explosions, blood and guts, foul language, and graphic sex.  That’s right.  No kidding…there are sexually explicit scenes involving naked marionettes. You have to see it to believe it.   As bizarre and outrageous as it is, it is also very hilarious, as is most of the absurdity that goes on in this obvious adventure/political spoof.

In a TV interview with Jay Leno, Parker and Stone best described their new feature film venture as a “Jerry Bruckheimer flick, but with puppets” since their film has all those action packed ingredients you can expect from a Bruckheimer blockbuster with the requisite love triangle. Oh, wait, tri-angle is the wrong word since there is four, not three, characters in love with each other. Anyway, where was I. Oh yes, since nothing is sacred in a Parker/Stone project, no one is safe when it comes to being poked fun at. Everything from Broadway, gays, other movies (Pearl Harbor, The Matrix for example), left leaning actors, conservatives; foreign cultures, etc. are fair game.  That’s what satire is all about. You can choose to be offended or take it with a grain of salt and laugh along. And, it won’t matter where you stand concerning the war on terrorism. The filmmakers take aim at both sides of the issue – attacking the gung ho right who favor kicking ass at whatever the cost, or the liberals who oppose it. Yet, it’s interesting that Bush and Kerry’s name or image never comes up.

The story revolves around a team of global crime fighters called Team America, whose base of operations is deep within the stone faces of Mt. Rushmore. Their mission is to stop terrorism wherever it pops up, even if it means blowing up and destroying major landmarks such as Paris’s Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, or Egypt’s Sphinx and pyramids if they happen to be within target range.  But, when Middle East terrorists are discovered to be carrying around weapons of mass destruction, the elite team of superheros led by their mentor Spottswoode (voiced by Daran Norris, who sounds eerily like the late comedy actor, Phil Hartman), decides to recruit a Broadway actor named Gary Johnston (after finishing his lead role in a very funny spoof on the musical “Rent”, called Lease) to infiltrate the arms dealer’s group and gather information.  Eventually, Gary and his team discover that North Korean dictator Kim Jung Il, is behind the terrorist operation.  And, with the support of the Film Actor’s Guild (F.A.G.) headed by Alec Baldwin and other liberal minded stars, Jung Il plans on employing the WMD’s to create another 911, only 1,000 times more destructive.

Parker and Stone are no doubt comedy geniuses who have come up with a totally different way to parody what they see fit.  While Team America is brilliant in many respects, such as the use of fabulous miniature sets, and great looking wide-eyed marionettes, some of the delivery is way over the top and crosses the line. For example, I could definitely do without the continuous, what seemed like never-ending, puking scene. That was plain disgusting!  How about massacres showing dismemberments, heads cut off, and bodies blown up, with mostly liberals as the victims.

Baldwin and fellow actors, Sean Penn, Susan Sarandon, Martin Sheen, Tim Robbins, Liv Tyler, Ethan Hawke, Janeane Garofolo and Helen Hunt better take a deep breath before seeing this film. And, poor Matt Damon is depicted as an idiot who can only repeat his name. Boy, is he going to be mad as hell!  Do I have to tell you what they do to Michael Moore’s likeness? Just guess!  But, it is all very funny especially since, both Parker and Stone voice most of the characters and don’t sound the least bit like any of them.   I couldn’t help but laugh my head off!  I almost forgot to mention the musical numbers, that is, songs with off the wall lyrics that are a hoot!

Team America is definitely not for the strait laced or closed minded, because it will surely cause lots of reaction no matter what side of the fence you are on. But, that’s exactly the filmmakers’ intention, to which they have highly succeeded.   I must add that as much as I roared with laughter, I began to wonder.  Who are the real puppets in the world and who is really pulling the strings? Here is a metaphor to think about.

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