Team America: World Police (2004)

Genres - Comedy  |   Sub-Genres - Political Satire, Adventure Comedy  |   Release Date - Oct 15, 2004 (USA)  |   Run Time - 98 min.  |   Countries - Germany , United States   |   MPAA Rating - R
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Review by Josh Ralske

South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut demonstrated that Trey Parker and Matt Stone were capable of making a gut-bustingly funny feature film while trenchantly skewering the hypocritical inanity of American culture. Team America: World Police has a lot of big laughs, but it's not nearly as consistently satisfying or as successfully satirical as the South Park film. The early part of the film, from the 3-D exploding opening credits, offers an amazingly deadpan and witty simulation of a Jerry Bruckheimer action film, performed by marionettes. These puppets are just lifelike enough to be mildly unsettling, and putting them in this context, with spot-on musical cues and camera angles taken from films like Armageddon and Top Gun, is a brilliant concept. The jingoism that these early sequences mock comes directly from the source material, along with the cheesy music, the clich├ęd character types, and the stilted dialogue. Little exaggeration is necessary. This might have sustained a feature film, but, perhaps due to a sophomoric need to offend, Parker and Stone hedge their bets, veering off into gross-out humor and a very funny but conceptually indefensible hardcore puppet sex scene. But the film really goes off the rails in its juvenile liberal-baiting. Parker and Stone reserve most of their venom for politically minded celebrities like Alec Baldwin and Sean Penn, turning them into moronic dupes of Kim Jong-Il, and making filmmaker Michael Moore a deranged suicide bomber. The celebrity group is called the Film Actors Guild, and their endlessly repeated acronym is indicative of the level of humor here. The writing isn't sharp enough to indicate what offends the filmmakers about these actors, so we're left to assume that when it comes to free speech, Parker and Stone are only interested in defending the rights of those who propagate potty humor.