Geek of the Day
Barry the Bachelor
Start your own Cult
I started a new job about a month ago. It's a high-pressure gig, and I found a new way to increase that new employee pressure. We had some kind of company outing planned for two Fridays ago. HR looked at the weather forecast and decided to move the location to Startime Cinema in Roswell. Want uncomfortable pressure? Try going to see Team America: World Police with your new boss and not knowing when it's okay to laugh.
This movie had tons of press before it was released. Some folks were up in arms about the perceived political aims of a film they'd not yet seen. Others are fans of Parker and Stone, who are to Comedy Central what Tarantino is to Miramax. Others were just bored and wanted to see a movie during a company outing. Others, a most vocal group, just wanted to see hot, steamy, barenekkid and uncensored MARIONETTE SEX. Yeah, the rumors are true.
The premise is fairly simple and straightforward as apple pie. Team America is a highly-trained group of G.I. Joe™-like patriots who are tasked with handling America's War On Terror. Things look good for them as they finally manage to corner Osama bin Laden in Paris. The Parisians (and, indeed, the rest of the world) get very angry at them for being willing to sacrifice the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre in order to drag Osama down. One of the team members is gunned down, and he also happened to be the lover (the very fortunate lover, we find out later) of teammate Lisa. Drama ensues.
A new guy is coerced into putting his Broadway talents to use in the world of counterterrorism. Gary Johnston is a magnificent actor, and he's brought on to infiltrate terrorist organizations and help to bring them down. He succeeds. Lisa falls for him. Drama ensues.
North Korea's Kim Jong Il is a busy little gargoyle. He's trading in arms and coordinating terrorist groups in order to maximize destructive results. In order to minimize the chances that Team America might be able to halt his plan to set off WMD's (and I would have gotten away with it, too, if it weren't for those meddling punks!), he has enlisted the aid of Alec Baldwin and the Film Actors Guild (known henceforth as FAG). He and the other members of FAG stir up public opinion against our heroes. Drama ensues.
Did I laugh during this movie? Oh, yeah. As a matter of fact, FUCK YEAH! That's a recurring theme of the movie. When Team America deploys in a short sequence that is reminiscent of every G.I. Joe™ or MASK™ commercial ever aired, the soundtrack boldly declares, "AMERICA: FUCK, YEAH!" It's obnoxious, but try watching the evening news without thinking of those three words for a week afterwards. It doesn't work.
I found that I actually liked the movie, in spite of its obvious political bent. Parker and Stone did a decent job of being even-handed in their destruction of people's closely-held political ideologies. For those on the political right, they showed the "We're in the right, so screw all you guys" mentality that has been, accurately or not, attributed to Republicans. For those on the political left, there's an image of Tim Robbins pouring gas over Team America members, saying something like "You're a threat to peace so you must all be killed." As a member of neither party, I was alternately amused and disgusted by the accuracy in both viewpoints. Plus, I don't care what side of the political aisle you care to call home, nothing spices up a movie like seeing Janeane Garofalo's head getting blown off.
It's a good satire, throwing back into our faces all of the crap that we've come to celebrate through stuff like Top Gun, Iron Eagle, national political conventions, etc. It also rips at the style of those things, coming at us with such over-the-top gusto that even the most disagreeable sort can recognize the parody of something that they hold dear.
I'd like to point your attention to the rare appearance of the King of Satire, Mr. Phil Hendrie. Unfortunately, there's only one of him (that I know of) in this movie. As the supercomputer known as I.N.T.E.L.L.I.G.E.N.C.E., he's blamed for a lot of what goes wrong ("Intelligence tells us that. . . ."). Hendrie's been making a good living by playing on the raw stupidity and gullibility of others for a long time, and his role in this movie just seems to be a perfect fit. On a side note, I can only say that THANK GOD he didn't do Doug Danger as the computer. That would've hurt. Or made the movie. I'm not sure.
The soundtrack rocked. I don't know if it was DVDA, or just Trey Parker, but it got to everybody in the auditorium. Kim Jong Il has a really touching ballad about his loneliness that is a bit askew, since he renders it, "I'm ronery, so ronery, so ronery and sadry arone. . . " Yeah, there's another group ticked off. The theme song of "America: FUCK YEAH!" is actually catchy to the point of having to watch oneself around small children outside of the theater. There's a moving tune about how badly Ben Affleck and Pearl Harbor sucked. Make sure you stick around through the credits, though, to catch the lovely tribute to Alec Baldwin as performed by Kim Jong Il.
Lastly (you know you want it), Hot Marionette Sex. This caught me a little bit off-guard. See, I'd heard an interview with Matt Stone that very morning in which he said that the MPAA was going to slap the movie with an NC-17 rating unless they severely cut out the sex. The scene was supposed to be two minutes long. MPAA told them to cut the time severely, and also pointed out that God said the only two positions that could be portrayed were missionary and her on top. I was a little surprised but the time they hit about the eighth position. Now we know what those guys who were into puppetry were up to while the rest of us were trying to score chicks in high school.
All in all, it's funny. Don't take a date, unless you don't like him/her or trust that you're so good they wouldn't dare leave you. Don't see it with your boss, if possible. If you can, shut off the parts of your brain that will scream out to take offense when your political views are challenged. Just enjoy it and laugh at yourself and your neighbors a little.
I just hope they come out with action figures. . .
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