Eye For Film >> Movies >> Team America: World Police (2004) Film Review
Team America: World Police
Reviewed by: Symon Parsons
The Free World is in peril. Evil terrorists, who hate decency, democracy and liberty, are planning a devastating attack. Only America can save the day.
No, it's not a speech by George W. Bush, but feels very much like Trey Parker and Matt Stone's response to one. Yes, the South Park creators are at it again, only this time amateurish cartoon characters have been replaced by amateurish marionettes, as Parker and Stone mix the Gerry Anderson supermarionation style of puppetry with their own brand of humour.
Team America: World Police presents the world exactly as gun-totin', Bible-bashin', right wing Middle America sees it; a world full of sinister characters from countries with names such as Dirkadirkastan, that know only two words, "Mohammed" and "Jihad"; a world in which anyone who opposes the war on terror is a) a homosexual, b) an actor or c) both; a world in which only force, as applied by the heroic Team America, is the answer.
With a Top Gun plot and a soundtrack to match, you can't accuse this satire of subtlety. Nothing is above ridicule. North Korea's Kim Jong Il is a Bond-style villain, who sounds suspicouswy wike Elmer Fudd. The film opens with a song about Aids and the Team America theme is an Eighties-style power rock song, entitled America! F**K YEAH!
However, in many ways the film is more of a lampoon of Hollywood than current US policy. One song explains how Rocky-style movie montages work, as a puppet transforms himself into the Ultimate Soldier. Another song - this time a ballad - contains the lyric, "Pearl Harbor sucked almost as much as I miss you. Politically active Hollywood is pitilessly lampooned - a puppet Alec Baldwin heads the Film Actors Guild (FAG). Michael Moore is a hot-dog-waving terrorist and Susan Sarandon a machine-gun wielding socialist, screaming, "You will die a peasant's death!" It's a clever idea. For about 10 minutes.
Unfortunately, satirical movies require the odd joke and you could boil eggs in the gaps between laughs in Team America. As in South Park, the writers prefer to go for easy shock-value humour instead of genuine wit and while this might work in a 20-minute cartoon, it soon become tiresome in a 98-minute movie. It's amusing for a while to see Thunderbirds-style puppets vomit, swear and have sex, but it soon wears thin. It appears that Parker and Stone are too in love with the concept to move on.
As for the audience, I wonder at whom it is aimed? Those who might be shocked and offended by the political message will stay away. For the rest, the targets are so obvious and attacked so crudely that the film lacks any real bite. It may appeal to movie and animation geeks, who will spot all the in-jokes and snicker nerdily to themselves, but I suspect the rest of us will start checking our watches when it keeps on making the same point over and flipping over.
File this one under Nice Idea, Shame About The Script, although I have to applaud any film that includes a scene of Sean Penn being eaten by kittens. (Don't ask).Reviewed on: 16 Jan 2005