Originally I had went to see Team America a week before it opened, thinking "Great, now I can form a review without any of the inevitable peer pressure of other Critics words!". Well, it has now been almost a month since I saw the film (thanx to my ADD, I got distracted with other projects), and still no review - and there is no way I can form an objective viewpoint now. But that is great too, because now I can address not only the film itself, but also the issues that it has brought up in the media. See, my mental problems have helped me for once.
Writing this on Election Day (and a damned important one too) is rather apropos, considering the subject matter of America's World Police mentality and the jingoistic politics of modern America. Trey Parker (along with partner Matt Stone) - those juvenile frat boys that brought us the surprisingly hilarious South Park - here tackle the supposed "War on Terror" that Baby Bush and his cronies jam down our throats (and up our asses) on a regular basis. Although tackle may not be the right word - more like make fun of in a sidestepping CNN kind of way.
Many Critics have interpreted Team America in many different ways - some call it an out and out attack on the Left - some say it is an attack on the Right - and some say it is just really funny, and we should leave the Politics at home! Well guess what - They are all right (now look, I've thrown yet another version into the fire).
Parker & Stone, who lent their talents to Michael Moore's Bowling for Columbine, are certainly no Right-wingers - but at first sight, their new film seems as if they are. Their skewering of Left-leaning Hollywood and such celebrities as Alec Baldwin, Susan Sarandon and Sean Penn, looks as if they are propagandists for the Republican Party (although to be fair, these two have always had a vile distast for any of the Baldwin brothers - they murdered their cartoon equivelants in their first film). But if you watch the film, you will see that what they are truly making fun of, is the way America thinks of itself as Judge, Jury and Executioner for the world. The film opens with our Team America (a gang of anti-terrorism operatives) destroying most of Paris in order to kill three terrorists - Would it surprise anyone if America really did that - oh yeah, America already did do that (just ask an Iraqi or a Palestinian or a Serb or a Nicaraguan or so on and so on).
With songs (did I forget to mention this is a Musical?) like, "America - Fuck Yeah!" and the faux-country ballad "Freedom isn't Free", even though Parker & Stone are mocking these things, it still seems to ring true for the red, white & blue. Songs that are meant as jokes are instead being taken as pro-USA anthems. The audience that saw the film with me were cheering when Paris was destroyed and when Sean Penn and Danny Glover were eaten by panthers (played by two domestic black cats). Meanwhile though, other songs, like "Pearl Harbor Sucked" (with lines like 'I love you as much as the movie Pearl Harbor sucked' and 'I need you as much as Ben Affleck needs acting lessons') and "Montage" (attacking Hollywood's need to throw a montage into every big budget blockbuster) take their attacks toward the other source of mockery in the film - the big-budget Jerry Bruckheimer movies that lord over the cineplexes every summer.
Instead of making a mockery out of the pro-war menatility of America, Parker & Stone have managed to create a jingoistic piece of propaganda, full of racism (making fun of how an Arab or Asian speaks is NOT humourous) and homophobia (which may just be some latency coming from the South Park camp) - the only problem is that it is really funny (at least about half the time) and the use of the marionettes (did I also forget to mention that this was an all-puppet movie?), and their lack of realistic movement (which Parker & Stone take advantage of in a comic way) just adds to the comedy. Unfortunately, even if their aim was off of their intended targets (and I'm not fully convinced it was), the South Park boys have made a movie that was whole-heartedly endorsed by FoxNews - and how could anyone live with that?! [11/02/04]