“You had me at ‘dicks f-ck assholes.'”.

Thunderbirds-style marionettes kicks ass in a Jerry Bruckheimer-style action movie that blends dead-perfect parody and social satire with sophomoric gags. The opening proffers a better reason for why certain people dislike the West, beyond the official rhetoric of they hate us because we’re free. The behaviour of bandwagon-jumping celebrities also comes under attack, while gratuitous movie scene parodies and Easter Eggs fill the screen.

Cast, Crew, and Other Info:

Director: Trey Parker
Writers: Trey Parker, Matt Stone, Pam Brady

Full credits here

Premise:

Kim Jong Il organizes terrorists in an evil, civilization-destroying plot. Only Team America can stop him– if they don’t destroy the world themselves in the process.

High Points:

1. The musical score, which skewers a number of genres. These songs can almost be taken seriously, and that is the point. I suspect any number of soldiers may choose to ignore the parodic implications and play “America, Fuck, Yeah!” on their headsets.

2. Puppet sex.

3. The final, crowd-turning speech. It’s simplistic (obviously), but pointed and funny enough that it works.

Low Point:

It’s not so much a single point as the accumulative effect of things which, individually, are (often)funny.

They’ve stuffed a dead-perfect parody with sophomoric jokes, Yeah, yeah, the puppets swear like troopers. Yeah, Asian accents sound funny to western ears so, like, it’s funny when Kim Jong Il sings, “I’m so ronery.” Sure, lots of people remain uncomfortable around homosexuality, so references to it might be funny, especially in the context of Action Movie-style male bonding. Yeah, they’re using puppet celebrities as villains with complete disregard for the real-life celebrities’ feelings.

These aspects of the film wear really thin after awhile. Parker, Stone, and Brady don’t seem to understand when a joke stops being funny.

The Scores:

Originality: 3/6 Parody, like adaptation, always suffers in the originality department. And Parker and Stone really aren’t doing anything they haven’t done on South Park, except with puppets and greater license. At the same time, they certainly find inventive ways to use those puppets.

Effects: 6/6. How do you assess the effects? They’re perfectly cheesey– and that is the point.

Story: 4/6: With a little tweaking, this could actually be a Bruckenheimer action movie, a fact which makes the story all the more amusing.

Acting: 4/6: Deliberately over-the-top.

Production: 6/6 The settings are amazing. The filmmakers have recreated the world, as a stereotypical American might perceive it, and loaded it with gags.

Emotional Response: 4/6 You’ll be offended or amused (perhaps both), and both count as valid emotional reactions. The film cannot maintain the levels of its first half-hour, however, and, as I discuss in my “Additional Comments,” I don’t know that either emotional response will be terribly lasting.

Overall: 4/6.

In total, Team America: World Police receives 31/42.

Additional Comments

The movie attempts to offend everyone, with weapon-toting peace-loving celebrities, a description of a rape by the cast of Cats, and middle eastern terrorists who say things like, “Baklava Jihad Mohammed!” Throughout, in fact, we see the world as a particularly xenophobic American might.

South Park, I feel, has long crossed the line between parodying certain cultural attitudes and participating in them. This film flirts with that same line in regards to race and culture. Does it cross it? I’m not sure, but the question remains especially important given that, regardless of rating, any number of very young people will see this film, and some will entirely miss the point.

To develop another point, raised earlier; they’ve wedded a dead-perfect parody which works on a number of levels to a series of sophomoric shock-value gags. These wear thin after the first half-hour, and the film never lives up to its opening sequence. I laughed frequently, but I doubt World Police would hold up to repeated viewings for me. At the same time, repeated viewings are required to catch all of the sight gags.