Three Monkeys Online

A Curious, Alternative Magazine

Team America: World Police

Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s last cinematic outing, South Park: Bigger Longer & Uncut, was a feature-length adaptation of the popular animated series and an unlikely candidate for best satire of 1999, targeting as it did America’s right-wing moral majority who blame the media and entertainment industry for all of America’s ills. Parker and Stone go for the jugular again in Team America, a pastiche of Gerry Anderson’s Thunderbirds series; although you never saw Anderson’s puppets act out a variety of sexual positions as they do in this hilarious take on America’s hunt for weapons of mass destruction.

Some critics have been surprised and alarmed at this film, suggesting that Parker and Stone are expressing something of a conservative streak. The film’s heroes are all-American super-patriots fighting (mainly Islamic) terrorism and the enemy is Hollywood’s liberal elite: the lefty-liberal, anti-war cabal of Sean Penn, Tim Robbins, Susan Sarandon, George Clooney et al, members of the Film Actors’ Guild (or FAG); led by 'the worlds’ greatest actor’, Alec Baldwin, who become unwitting puppets (if you will) of Kim Jong-Il. The North Korean dictator is portrayed as a megalomaniacal Bond villain, albeit one with the voice of South Park’s Eric Cartman doing a particularly bad East Asian accent.

By lampooning the liberal anti-war faction and celebrating the war against terror, aren’t Parker and Stone placing themselves in the pro-war Bush camp? No, once again this is an acutely observed satire on how America sees itself – heroically protecting the world from Islamic terrorists whilst beset by anti-American Hollywood commies. America’s obsession with itself is a dominant theme – each foreign city is introduced with a subtitle detailing its distance from America. Our gung-ho heroes often destroy historic landmarks like the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower and the Egyptian pyramids in pursuit of their dark-skinned foes with merely a murmur of 'Damn, I missed’.

It’s also a send-up of the Hollywood action film, with not a cliché spared: the square-jawed, blue-eyed hero, the love triangle, the cheesy one-liners, the power-rock theme tune; it even has montage (there is a brilliant musical number called 'Montage’ – “Show a lot of things happening at once to remind everyone what’s going on! Even Rocky had a montage!”).

This being a film from the creators of South Park, there is something here to offend everyone – politically correct this film most certainly is not, but I’d be surprised if I see a funnier film this year. The rated-R box on the US poster warns: “Graphic, crude & sexual humour, violent images & strong language: all involving puppets”. Now if that doesn’t make you want to see this film, I don’t know what will.

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