I mentioned in my post about Tommy Boy that I would’ve enjoyed it more if it had gone fully absurd more often – THIS is what I’m talking about! I’ve been intrigued by Team America for some time, if only for the marionette animation style, but while I often like South Park in small doses, I found South Park: Bigger & Longer uneven to say the least, and I was afraid Team America would strike me as being too crude. And it definitely has more than a few moments of vulgarity, but it is SO over the top that they largely work (the voluminous vomit scene comes to mind).
The film is a satire largely on America’s tendency to become involved in international peace-keeping, but it has plenty of barbs for the politicos of Hollywood, too, plus Middle Eastern terrorism, and totalitarianism in the form of North Korea. I’m not a particularly political person, so maybe it would be more offensive to someone who cared more about this stuff (especially from a conservative bent), but really, the absurdity level is so high and the satire so broad, it’s hard to take any of it seriously in anything more than most obvious of ways.
I was pretty much on the movie’s side right from the beginning, when a terrorist threat in Paris brings in Team America, who arrive in gaudy red, white and blue helicopters and proceed to destroy the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre in an attempt to stop terrorists from planting a bomb that might’ve, I don’t know, taken out a cafe. The film strikes just the right note between earnestness and ridiculousness. I wasn’t expecting this to be as musical as it is (though I suppose the South Park movie and The Book of Mormon should’ve given me a clue), but there are some pretty hilarious songs here, from a super twangy “Freedom Isn’t Free” (actual cost: $1.05) to the jingoistic main theme “America, Fuck Yeah” to “Everybody Has AIDS,” from the show-within-the-movie LEASE – not to mention an entire excursus on how terrible Michael Bay’s Pearl Harbor was.
There’s a lot of raunchy and vulgar humor, but it works here 90% of the time. The movie never stops to dwell on its jokes, which helps, but keeps hurtling breathlessly toward the next thing. I guess it boils down to, this is my STYLE of humor, and whether I necessarily loved the specific content of each joke (or would repeat it, because often I wouldn’t), most of them made me laugh in the moment, and those moments kept coming every second.
It also probably doesn’t hurt that we’re talking about marionette puppets here – they’re more expressive than I would’ve expected, but they can also be perfectly expressionless, or with very standard expressions (like a generic “shocked” look) which makes all the crazy stuff that happens that much more ridiculous. Plus, I mean – marionette fisticuffs is maybe the most hilarious thing I’ve ever seen.
Stats and stuff…
directed by Trey Parker, written by Trey Parker and Matt Stone
starring Trey Parker, Matt Stone, Kristen Miller, Masasa Mayo, Daran Norris
I’m ranking all my Challenge films on Flickchart (as I do all the films I see), a movie-ranking website that asks you to choose your favorite between two movies until it builds a ranked list of your favorites. Just for fun, I will average out the rankings and keep a running tally of whose recommendations rank the highest. When you add a film to Flickchart, it pits it against films already on your chart to see where it should fall. Here’s how Team America: World Police entered my chart:
Team America: World Police beats Outrage
Team America: World Police beats Duck, Rabbit, Duck
Team America: World Police beats The Stranger
Team America: World Police loses to Certified Copy
Team America: World Police loses to I Killed My Mother
Team America: World Police loses to The Gunfight at the O.K. Corral
Team America: World Police beats The Dot and the Line
Team America: World Police loses to The Maltese Falcon
Team America: World Police loses to Dead of Night
Team America: World Police beats Titanic
Team America: World Police beats The Naked Island
Team America: World Police beats The Innkeepers
Final ranking #414 out of 3590 films on my chart (88%)
It is now my #1 Trey Parker/Matt Stone film, my #11 Action/Comedy, my #2 Political Satire, my #5 Parody/Spoof, my #3 Stop Motion film and my #8 film of 2004.
Team America: World Police was recommended by Ryan Stuckey, a friend from the Flickcharters Group on Facebook. Averaging together this #414 ranking with my #2117 ranking of his other film, Tommy Boy, gives Ryan an average ranking of 1265.
A few quotes…
Carson: You have to live on, find someone else who loves you, find someone else and be happy!
Cast of LEASE: [singing] Everyone has AIDS! AIDS AIDS AIDS AIDS!
Gary: Now I’ve seen everything.
Spottswoode: Have you seen an ant eat its own head?
Spottswoode: Then you HAVEN’T seen everything.
Spottswoode: Right this way, you maverick renegade.
Gary: 9/11 times a hundred? Wow, that would be…
Spottswoode: Yes. 91,100.
Spottswoode: Gary, if for some reason your cover is blown, and the terrorists take you prisoner, well, you’ll probably want to take your own life. Here, you’d better have this.
[hands Gary a hammer]
Terrorist bouncer: Bukala, Mohammad Jihad!
Gary: Bak. Derk-derk-Allah. Derka derka, Mohammed Jihad. Haka sherpa-sherpa. Abaka-la.
Terrorist bouncer: Ahhh! Derka derka derka! [lets him in]
Terrorist: I like you. You have balls. I like balls.
News anchor: Team America has once again pissed off the whole world.
Tim Robbins: Let me explain to you how this works: you see, the corporations finance Team America, and then Team America goes out… and the corporations sit there in their… in their corporation buildings, and… and, and see, they’re all corporation-y… and they make money.
Sean Penn: Last year I went to Iraq. Before Team America showed up, it was a happy place. They had flowery meadows and rainbow skies, and rivers made of chocolate, where the children danced and laughed and played with gumdrop smiles.
Matt Damon: Matt Damon!
Lisa: Promise me you’ll never die.
Gary: You know I can’t promise that.
Lisa: If you did that, I would make love to you right now.
Gary: I promise I’ll never die.
Spottswoode: It appears now that I.N.T.E.L.L.I.G.E.N.C.E was wrong about the Chechnyans being in charge. That was bad I.N.T.E.L.L.I.G.E.N.C.E. Very bad I.N.T.E.L.L.I.G.E.N.C.E.
I.N.T.E.L.L.I.G.E.N.C.E.: I’m sorry.
Hans Blix: Mr. Il, I was supposed to be allowed to inspect your palace today, but your guards won’t let me enter certain areas.
Kim Jong Il: Hans, Hans, Hans! We’ve been frew this a dozen times. I don’t have any weapons of mass destwuction, OK Hans?
Hans Blix: Then let me look around, so I can ease the UN’s collective mind. I’m sorry, but the UN must be firm with you. Let me in, or else.
Kim Jong-Il: Or else what?
Hans Blix: Or else we will be very very angry with you and we will write you a letter to tell you how angry we are.
Gary: The gorillas beat him to death before the zookeepers could gas them all.
Spottswoode: There is no ‘i’ in Team America.
I.N.T.E.L.L.I.G.E.N.C.E.: Yes there is.
Sarah: We’ve lost Intelligence! I repeat, we have no intelligence!
Janeane Garofolo: As actors, it is our responsibility to read the newspapers, and then say what we read on television like it’s our own opinion.
Gary: Don’t worry, fellows, I’ve got my pass right here. [shoots everyone]
Alec Baldwin: This is a peace conference! And if you even try to lay a hand on Kim Jong-Il, this whole audience and I will rise up against you!
Lisa: You’ve got to act fast!
A few more screenshots…