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Team America: World Police

movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: Team America: World Police

Starring: Trey Parker, Matt Stone
Director: Trey Parker
Rated: R
RunTime: 105 Minutes
Release Date: October 2004
Genre: Comedy

*Also starring: Elle Russ, Stanley G. Sawicki

Review by Harvey Karten
3 stars out of 4

The New York Times has been accused of having a liberal slant while Fox is hardly considered fair and balanced by its critics. The Washington Post is liberal, the Washington Times conservative. The National is left-liberal, National Review hard right. Finally we have a film that is truly balanced, skewering liberals and conservative equally. If Trey Parker and Matt Stone, in a movie co-written by Pam Brady, believe that Sean Penn, Michael Moore, Alec Baldwin and Helen Hunt are off-the- wall in their views, the directors and writers give an equally distorted view of Muslim terrorists who, the agenda goes, must be wiped out by force. Special mention is accorded to Kim Jong Il, ruler of North Korea, who can't pronounce the letter "L" and has a plan for world conquest.

With an election just two and one-half weeks away, then, the undecideds will have no more idea of how to vote after seeing such balanced reporting than they did before enjoying the romps of egotism set forth by Parker and Stone–whose "South Park" three years back brought us pint-sized, animated youngsters whose soiled mouths gave rise to a hypocritical campaign by their parents, who blamed Canada for all the ills that affect the United States.

Given that "Team America" reserves most of its venom on liberals, though, one might assume that amid all the anarchy–which by the way sends up the styles beloved to action adventure movies in addition to its cramped view of politics–is a right-wing strain. Whether the assumed audience of 16-25 year olds would even get the political implications is arguable, however.

The plot pits North Korea's beloved leader Kim Jong Il against a mighty force called Team America, who takes to the air with missiles, to the road with bikes, all in the service of finding and destroying weapons of mass destruction and, failing that, to do precisely what they've set out to eradicate by blowing up most of the objects and people in their paths. The difference, which Americans note today, is that they blow up civilians intentionally while we do this, unfortunately, by accident.

Spoofing the Broadway musicals, Parker and Stone send up the play "Rent," which they call "Lease," in which the singers pound out a chorus about AIDS, but treating the disease as a fun thing to entertain, though not pander to, an audience of decent- minded people.

Team America is led by Spottswoode, a WASPish type who recruits Gary Johnston, a singer in the musical "Lease," to conduct covert operations in the Middle East. He is chosen not only because he graduated summa cum laude but because he was a double-major in World Languages and Theater, thereby given him, with more than a few dabs of makeup, the ability to imitate a terrorist and fit right into their cells. To get particular favors from his boss, Spottswoode insists that Gary give him oral sex, speaking of wish there is a riotous scene involving hetero sex in the missionary position and just about every other possibility–the kind that led the MPAA at first to certify the movie as NC-17 and later to relent, after some judicial cuts, and let the fellows off with an R. Perhaps the biggest joke in the picture is an unintentional one: the fact that sex between marionettes gives the academy the excuse to put its most dangerous rating on what a couple of puppets choose to do.

Using an aspect of Brechtian alienation effect, Trey and Stone want us to be aware at all times that these are not real people, not even sophisticated anime, but wooden puppets whose strings are on display to the audience at all times. The biggest problem–a major one–with the production is its repetition, the most annoying being Kim Jong Il's regular inability, like, presumably, all Asians, to pronounce the letter "L." Kim complains regularly that he's "ronely" and in the final song conveys to us nearly countless ways to elaborate on that one, un-PC gag.

Copyright © 2004 Harvey Karten

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