October 17, 2004

Team America: World Police

Well, we went to see Team America today. I thought it was pretty funny, actually, although I don't usually go for really crude humor and I have never seen one episode of South Park.

The husband and I had at least one disagreement about the plot, wherein something I saw as noise looked like signal to him. But the noise-to-signal issue is fascinating, here, because a lot of the really broad humor was, in my opinion, a way of getting the film made in the first place. I think the puppet gimmick and some of the grosser moments were a device for Parker and Stone to hide behind when they needed to: "hey, it's a movie made with puppets, who have sex with each other. And it skewers the idea of American exceptionalism." Yeah. But not like it skewers terrorists and their enablers on the left.

What's amazing to me is that this film got made at all, because 1) it's fundamentally a pro-America, pro-testosterone piece that discusses the very real intentions of overseas terrorists to kill us (while grossly exaggerating this threat, cartoon-style); and 2) it savages the Hollywood left as thoughtless appeasers who are pro-peace until it's time to take up arms against those who want to stop the world from being blown up.

I don't agree with everything in it, and it isn't what you'd call a "think piece." Its comedy is (deliberately) over-the-top. But the tunes are catchy, and there aren't a lot of places you can go to see a Jeanine Garafalo puppet state that "I read the newspaper every day, and then I spout those opinions as my own." Or to hear a theme song whose chorus is "America—fuck, yeah!"

And there's no argument to be made about what an technical achievement this film is. My understanding is that there's little computer animation in the movie, and that most of the effects are achieved by using elaborate sets of international landmarks. The puppets are amazing to watch, yet Parker and Stone made a point of having the strings show at all times—just so we know they don't take themselves any more seriously than they do the Hollywood establishment (epitomized in the movie by the organization the Film Actors Guild; tasteful, the movie is not).

Frankly, I'd like to see this movie do well, because its point of view is underrepresented in my town. But I can't recommend it in good conscience to anyone who's sensitive about . . . anything. There's not a family value to be found in the film, so go in with your eyes open.

But any movie that threw Sean Penn off to this degree can't be all bad. And isn't. It's clever, it's fun, and it's full of bodily fluids, sex and explosions. Enjoy.

Posted by Attila at October 17, 2004 03:29 PM

I'd forgotten that Garofalo line, lol. A conservative friend was offended because she felt the movie was trashing American soldiers as idiots. I don't think so at all, I felt it was lampooning the chic Eurowussy idea of the awful American wreaking havoc wherever he goes.

Imagine being Sean Penn's secretary: "Um, are you SURE you want to send this letter, Mr Penn? Are you POSITIVE?"

Overall, tho, not nearly as funny as the South Park movie (in which a petulant Satan is Saddam Hussein's gay lover). Watch it & report back

Posted by: jeff at October 18, 2004 03:01 PM

One of the beautiful things about the Penn memo is that there's a sentence in it that doesn't make any sense at all: there's a word missing or something. You'd think that after sending it to Stone and Parker he would have proofread it before sending it to the media the next day.

Posted by: Attila Girl at October 18, 2004 04:49 PM

Ahhh...the first non-critic review I've read of Team America! The husband and I wanted to go see it but wanted a "real person's" view of it first...thanks!

Posted by: Stacy at October 18, 2004 05:15 PM

Vodkapundit also linked a "real person" review of it.

Posted by: Attila Girl at October 18, 2004 10:07 PM

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