Team America: World Police
"Team America: World Police," the new Trey Parker-Matt Stone film, can be described as a subtle, multilayered, complex illustration of what we may think of as the Nietzschean philosophical construct that there are three and only three types of human being: as it is stated in the film, they are, in order, the dick, the pussy and the asshole. I have searched through my library's copy of "The History of Philosophy" to find the exact source for Messrs Parker and Stone's work, but to date it eludes me. However, I'm working on an analysis of the film's theme song, whose title is "America - Fuck Yeah!" and I can let you know what I come up with.
The film is about, well, Team America, four buff marionettes -- Oh, did I tell you that everybody in the film is a marionette? - who are world police; they travel around the globe searching for terrorists and shooting them, along with anybody else who happens to be in the line of fire. Early on, they manage to destroy the Pyramids and most of Egypt's other treasures. They're directed by a Charlie-like (as in "Charlie's Angels") boss named Mr. Spottswoode, who lives inside Mt. Rushmore's carved heads, which is where the group repairs to between jobs.
Early on we're taken to Times Square to see a performance of the final scene of "Rent" - I mean "Lease," as it is called here - with the cast singing a rousing version of "Everybody's Got AIDS!" The lead singer is Gary Johnston, whom Spottswoode recruits to join Team America because Intelligence - that's a capital I because it's a kind of person - has found out that Kim Jong Il is planning to blow up the world and has to be stopped, and because Gary was a double major in college, in theatre and foreign languages. I hope all you business majors are listening. And so the Team sets off to disrupt the evil Il's plans.
So okay, we've gotten the scatology and the action out of the way; what's left? Well, the movie. And much as I love South Park I have to say "Team America" fails. It chooses to pick on Hollywood left-wingers like Sean Penn, Susan Sarandon, Tim Robbins and Alec Baldwin - and what do the boys have against poor Alec? - remember how they made him and his brothers the victims of Canada's air strike in "South Park: The Movie" - when a better target of this film would have been the real people who invented the concept of America as the world's policeman. And since Parker and Stone do all the voices, and not very well, the dialogue needed to be wittier than it is - more like "South Park" itself. So the evil Il turns out to be just a plot point; he has too little life to stand up against the Team. And if we're to take the film as satire, there's a real question as to just who is the target.
But there are some great moments in the film. There's the song "I miss you the way Michael Bay missed the mark/When he made 'Pearl Harbor,'" and a great sex scene (these are marionettes, remember) between Gary and his lover, in which every possible position is graphically shown on screen; some moments actually had to be cut to avoid giving the film an NC-17 rating. Really. Marionettes.
And that's another problem. The marionettes themselves are just not that witty or interesting-looking. Their faces are frozen in half-grins (only the lower jaws move to indicate speech) when a more inventive approach would have given them personalities and even believability. So enjoy the movie for its lovely moments, but don't expect another "Bigger, Longer and Uncut."