With all the hoopla surrounding political films this year, who would have thought that the most powerful political statement would come from the twisted, yet funny, minds of Trey Parker and Matt Stone, creators of South Park? Their latest film, Team America: World Police is a satirical look at US Foreign Policy while poking fun at the liberal media, liberal members of Hollywood, and a certain leader of a country North of South Korea. In fact, the only people that were spared from Parker and Stones biting wit were those lambasted in Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11 which debuted earlier this year.
The premise of the film is just about as insane as you can get, but here it goes. In order to infiltrate a terrorist group operating in possession of WMDs (Weapons of Mass Destruction), a Charlie’s Angels like organization called Team America calls upon the services of an actor to go under disguise and find the WMDs. The group is lead by Spottswoode, who rides around in a mechanical chair while watching the action from Headquarters (this leads to one of the movies funniest jokes). The team finally figures out that North Korea is behind the planned attack on the world, and that countries leader, Kim Jong Il enlists the Film Actors Guild in a trick to destroy Team America.
Along the way, there will be puppet sex, loads of violence, singing, dancing, cocktails, and certain “favors.” The film has been labeled an equal opportunity offender, and those with who are portrayed in the movie may not like the way they come across. The fact that Parker and Stone don’t seem to fall into the camp of either Republicans or Democrats leaves the door wide open for both sides to be torn to shreds.
Taking the full brunt of the comedic lambasting are the members of the Film Actors Guild (whose abbreviation leads to many of the movies jokes). One actor, in particular, is reamed again and again, this actor is Alec Baldwin. Joining him in the Guild are Helen Hunt, Tim Robbins, Susan Sarandon, George Clooney, Samuel L. Jackson, and a host of other celebrities who have been outspoken against the war in Iraq. Most are done away with at the hands of Team America, with Robbins, Michael Moore, and Sean Penn getting the worst demises.
Like Parker and Stone’s previous film, South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut, Team America hosts more than a few musical numbers, which are easily the highlight of the film. I found it curious that the soundtrack won’t be released for another two weeks, but that already comes highly recommended. The Team America theme song, simply titled “America, F**K Yeah!” is one of the funniest things you will hear all year. Most of the songs are performed by Trey Parker (or DVDA if you prefer) and show the comic might that both he and Stone possess. Also, remember that freedom costs about $1.05.
Finally, the center piece of the film was the sex scene between two marionette puppets that are no where near anatomically correct. The scene initially caused the film to receive an NC-17 rating from the MPAA, but after some cuts, an R-rating was finally awarded. Most scenes in films that receive such hype are usually a let down in their final form, but not this one. The two puppets engage in what can only be described as one of the funniest scenes in film all year as they switch positions a number of times and caused the audience to be in tears upon conclusion. Unfortunately, the scene is over much sooner than you would like to be, but the shock and awe of it has you rolling.
The use of marionette puppets may be questioned by some, but moving from cardboard cut-outs and computer animation isn’t that big of a step. Now, if the film looked like garbage, I may have a different story to tell, but the settings and miniatures used are beautiful, to say the least. And if you ever wanted to see a puppet spew 78 gallons of puke and then pass out in it, you needn’t wait any longer.
Team America may very well be the funniest movie of the year. While it lacks the same hard wit that Parker and Stone deliver to public figures on their TV show, it certainly makes up for it in being an original film that spoofs and offends evenly across the board. It’s certainly not for those who are easily offended, but if you enjoy the creator’s previous work, you’ll feel right at home watching puppets blow the brains out of other puppets.