I’ve watched Team America: World Police three times within the past month (the first of which was a new-to-me viewing), and I’ve enjoyed it a little bit more each time. Evident from their eclectic body of work which also includes the television show South Park, its subsequent film, and the hit musical The Book of Mormon, it isn’t hard to see the penchant Trey Parker and Matt Stone have for rich, biting satire. From what I have seen so far, Team America: World Police, though just as silly as anything else from their body of work, may just be their most effective.
The pros of this film are numerous. It really is one of the smartest political satires to come around in years, and this is because of Parker & Stone’s tendencies toward exaggerating nearly every element of what they are trying to parody. Here, it is the turbulent “War on Terror” era that is the backbone for all that unfolds. Yet it doesn’t take the radical left approach that may be expected; both liberals and conservatives become the butt of the joke here, as well as political figures, famous actors, and documentary filmmaker Michael Moore. American nationalism, as much as international powers, are made fun of here, as our so-called heros destroy everything in their paths in an attempt to save the world. It’s more multi-layered than one could expect from the creators of South Park – yet it’ll also give fans of their work the satisfaction of a successful implementation of their style.
Through their films, The Book of Mormon, and even some episodes of South Park, it is clear that the comedic team really love musicals and do them rather well, this film being no exception. Here, Trey Parker alone takes the reins at writing and performing every piece of the repertoire, and does so magnificently. Of course, the exceptionally catchy “America, Fuck Yeah” is an obvious standout, though the pseudo-gung-ho “Freedom Isn’t Free” and Kim Jong Il’s ballad “I’m So Ronery” also guarantee quite a few chuckles from me. The fact that the film wasn’t nominated for a single Oscar, especially for its music, absolutely pains me (though I doubt the Academy would feel comfortable honoring a film in which Alec Baldwin is shot multiple times with a machine gun).
I’m leaving out one of the most obviously remarkable aspects of this film, so I’ll mention it now: puppet animation. Holy shit. I will never not be absolutely astounded by how much detail is placed into every little frame; not just with the puppets, but with the backgrounds, buildings, and miniature monuments also composed for the film. Even settings that are only recorded for about a minute or two have the most intricate details placed in them. Outside of certain stop-motion animations, I have seen nothing else of this physical attention to detail, and it’s really gotta be seen to be believed.
There are certain things I’m not particularly fond of; generally speaking, I don’t care enough for the individual characters to not roll my eyes over the whole love story. Then again, without this love story, we wouldn’t have the greatest sex scene in the history of cinema. Generally speaking, this film is so over-the-top, boundary-crushing, and gut-bustingly hilarious, it’s hard not to love at least a little bit. Though I desperately need to give South Park: Bigger, Longer, & Uncut a rewatch, this is surely my favorite film of Parker & Stone thus far. I’m so glad they have done bigger and better things since then, and I am forever eagerly anticipating what the future holds for this wonderful team of comedians.