Let's be clear: I laughed my ass off at Team America: World Police. But in some ways, I think Trey Parker and Matt Stone were being more pointedly offensive than usual — with liberal peaceniks as their target.
The reason I say that is because other than North Korean dictator Kim Jung Il, the only actual identifiable people making an appearance in the movie are actual actors like Alec Baldwin (also a target in South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut), Sean Penn, Tim Robbins, Susan Sarandon, Janeane Garafalao and so on.
Oh, and Michael Moore, director of Fahrenheit 9/11, also makes an appearance as a gluttonous suicide bomber.
(Addendum: Here is the background on that, from an Associated Press story carried on CTV.ca:
Stone, who is from Littleton, Colo., agreed to talk about his hometown and the infamous high-school shooting there for Moore's anti-gun documentary Bowling for Columbine.
“We have a very specific beef with Michael Moore,'' Stone said. “I did an interview, and he didn't mischaracterize me or anything I said in the movie. But what he did do was put this cartoon right after me that made it look like we did that cartoon.''
Parker and Stone still harbour hard feelings about that sassy, anti-gun cartoon because they feel it was done in South Park style. They believe the proximity to Stone's interview misled some fans into thinking they had done the cartoon, even though Moore never said they did.
For this slight, Moore's punishment in Team America is extreme: he's depicted as a gibbering, overweight, hot-dog eating buffoon who straps explosives to his body to blow up the American do-gooders. The puppet was reportedly stuffed with ham when it blew.)
The actors are all stupid peaceniks and are all involved with the Film Actors Guild (FAG for short). Geddit?
It certainly fits in with the Republican worldview at this juncture in history, doncha think? U.S. President George W. Bush has been saying on the stump that “Hollywood values” aren't American values.
How is it that Dubya (or a Dubya-like character) escapes even a mimimal appearance in a just-released satire involving American power as a theme is strange to me.
(Addendum: also from the Associated Press story linked to above:
Parker and Stone had puppets made of President George W. Bush and Senator John Kerry, but ultimately cut both characters from the movie, saying they didn't want it to be blatantly political.
“For us, it's a way to think about all the emotions behind the politics,'' Stone said. “It's not so much, `Here's what we should do. …' Gary (one of the main puppet characters – Bill D.) is supposed to (represent) all the emotions that we've felt over the past couple years (about America's role in the world.) Are you proud? Are you ashamed? It's probably a combination of both.'')
Not that U.S. excesses aren't mocked.
The first scenes are of some stereotypical Arab Muslim terrorists in Paris.
Team America springs into action and stop the terrorist attack! — and destroy the Eiffel Tower while shooting an RPG at a terrorist (“damn, I missed!”), the Arc de Triomphe and the Louvre in the process.
A similar operation in Cairo leaves the Pyramids and the Sphinx mangled.
At one point in the film, Gary Johnston — an actor brought into the team who then quits, thinking his acting was part of the reason for a (Hollywood-driven) backlash against Team America after the Cairo job – when he hears a soliloquy about the differences between pussies, dicks and assholes.
The basic theme, if I may summarize, is pussies may not like dicks because they occasionally get f**ked by them, but dicks can also f**k assholes.
So yeah, America is kind of a dick, but don't forget, there are a lot of assholes out there like Kim who need a good f**king.
And remember: “A pussy is only an inch-and-a-half from an asshole.”
Actually, on GOPUSA.com (bringing the conservative message to America), there is the following: Communist dictator hopes for Kerry Presidential Win.
Art imitates life.
Other than that
Take the political message I read out of it, and it's a pretty damned entertaining movie.
It sends up 'Rent' and virtually every big-budget Hollywood action flick ever made.
Check out the way Lisa, the blond bombshell on the team, flicks the hair out of her eyes after blowing away a terrorist, but not before telling him: “Hey terrorist: Terrorize this.
The high-testosterone theme song (Team America/F**k you!/Comin' to save/The mother-f**kin' world, yeah!) also sticks in your head the way the classic ditty from the South Park movie did.
There's just tons of comic detail in this flick.
It's probably best to see it twice: Once for the high-level view and the second (if you wish) for the inside jokes.
Team America made me laugh, but to the extent that Parker and Stone seem to be trying to make a political statement with plausible deniability, it also left me a bit sour.
Penn and the movie
Sean Pean seems to be particulary pissed about the way he was portrayed in the movie.
The Drudge Report posted an Oct. 6 note he sent to the filmmakers.
I do mind when anybody who doesn't have a child, doesn't have a child at war, or isn't or won't be in harm's way themselves, is encouraging that there's "no shame in not voting" "if you don't know what you're talking about" (Mr. Stone) without mentioning the shame of not knowing what your talking about, and encouraging people to know. You guys are talented young guys but alas, primarily young guys. It's all well to joke about me or whomever you choose. Not so well, to encourage irresponsibility that will ultimately lead to the disembowelment, mutilation, exploitation, and death of innocent people throughout the world. The vote matters to them. No one's ignorance, indcluding a couple of hip cross-dressers, is an excuse.
All best, and a sincere f**k you,
It was also apparently sent to the Los Angeles Times.
Here is Matt Stone's response in a TV Guide story entitled South Park Men vs. Sean Penn:
“I know that most of the actors that we use in [Team America's fictitious] Film Actors Guild are going to think it is funny,” Stone says, “because, ultimately, it is. It is so absurd and stupid; it is just fun. Except for Sean Penn, [who] is so humorless that he can't even have fun with that.”
“We wrote this movie before the Iraq war started,” Parker points out. “When we were doing another draft on the script, the Iraq war was just starting to escalate. For, like, two months, you'd turn in to a news channel like CNN to find out what was going on, and it would be like, 'Things are heating up in Iraq. Here for commentary is Sean Penn.' And it was Sean Penn telling you what was going on in Iraq!
“It was ridiculous. It was funny to us, and we [decided to] put that in the movie because that's hysterical.”
Actually, what I thought was hysterical and eminently mockable was some of the breathlessly cheerleaderish embedded war coverage at the outset of the invasion (CNN's Walter Rodgers, come on down!).
But somehow, that didn't manage to twig Stone's and Parker's satiric imagination.
And to my mind, if the media is portraying Sean Penn as an Iraq expert, rather than as a high-profile person who went to Iraq and reported on his observations, then it is the media that should get its peepee whacked.
Penn was concerned with the human cost of the war. Iraqbodycount.net, at the time of this writing, puts the civilian Iraqi death toll (i.e. collateral damage) at between 13,278 and 15,357. That's not a laughing matter.