For this month’s next review for Genre Grandeur – Movie Musicals, here’s a review of Team America: World Police (2004) by Robb of Red Bezzle Brand
Thanks again to Audrey of 1001 Movies and Beyond for choosing this month’s genre.
Next month’s Genre has been chosen by Ghezal of Ghezal Plus Movies and she has chosen the genre of Film Noir Movies.
Please get me your submissions by the 25th of July by sending them to NoirGhezal@movierob.net
Try to think out of the box! Great choice Ghezal!
Let’s see what Robb thought of this movie:
I’ve never been a fan of musicals. There’s just something about the thought of people spontaneously bursting into song which makes it impossible for me to suspend my disbelief. As a result, I can only stomach musicals which don’t take themselves too seriously; something of which you could never accuse Team America: World Police (2004).
The fourth movie from South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone sees a crack anti-terrorist team recruit a Broadway actor to help avert the nefarious Kim Jong Il’s use of weapons of mass destruction. The film doesn’t stray far from the formula that resulted in children telling their parents to ‘suck their chocolate salty balls’ throughout the late 1990’s, but Team America piles the political satire on top of the gross-out humour. And that’s one reason that this film is more than the sum of its doll parts.
Released just three years after 9/11 and amidst controversy surrounding American foreign policy, Stone and Parker pour salt in the wounds of the land of hope and glory’s ego. But then it shows puppet porn. We get the team flattening the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe and the Louvre in a bid to avert a terrorist attack, but then get a near two-minute long vomiting scene. You get the picture.
Musically, Broadway star Gary’s biggest number is the Rent-inspired ‘Everyone has Aids’. Sardonic in its subject and musically accomplished, its gospel backing vocals (‘He died of Aiiiiiids’) and the ‘Born to Run’-esque denouement outweigh any childish tittering. Kim Jong Il’s ‘I’m so ronery’ similarly raises a laugh beyond the dropping of the ‘L’s, and ‘America! Fuck Yeah’ is belted out in our house almost on the daily. It’s that anthemic. The only musical misstep is Gary’s theme, ‘What would you do?’, a mocking Country music number to backdrop his procrastination of joining the team.
Tune-age aside, the puppets are the real stars of the show. The fight between martial artist Chris and a turbaned terrorist is all tangled puppet strings and franticly swinging limbs, whilst love interest Lisa looks uncannily real in her post coital scene. Oh yeah, the puppet porn. It does go for the lowest common denominator but to be honest, we all did the same with our Han Solo and Princess Leia figures, right? Right?
Undoubtedly though, the world that is created is impressively detailed and lovingly crafted but ultimately let down when the humour misses the mark, such as with ‘The Film Actor’s Guild’ acronym. That’s not big or clever, it’s just shit. That being said, Team America does cleverly toy with the genre conventions of everything from Westerns to Spy movies to the Supermarionation of Thunderbirds and Joe 90. And these are the most fun parts. Seeing the Team America jet fly into the open mouth of Mount Rushmore’s George Washington is inspired whilst witnessing the UN Inspector Hans Blix puppet decapitated by a real shark would make Dr Evil announce his retirement. And cats being used as lions? Genius.
What rating would I give it? I’d go for three ‘Fuck Yeahs’ out of five.
Red Bezzle Brand