Friday, 28 February 2014

Team America: World Police (2004)

The films title says it all really, a sharp satirical play on the fact that the rest of the globe kinda thinks the US wants to police the world. Business as usual for the South Park creators as they present this biting mockery of a comedy that does one of two things...homage the use of marionettes whilst also taking the piss, and literately taking the piss out of American foreign policy.

The whole film is a complete send up of your bog standard action flick porn, all the obligatory cliches and stereotypes packed into a smart satire of American politics that naturally revolves around the Middle East. Its all very straight forward, a team of super anti-terrorist soldiers (ala Tom Cruise in 'Mission: Impossible') do battle with terrorist threats on a daily basis. During one mission they get captured and must be rescued by the newbie of the team who is unsure of himself, that's virtually it.

The first thing that is so funny about this film is the fact its all been created with puppets, yes puppets, just like Thunderbirds. Puppet action heroes doing everything your regular cookie cutter Hollywood action flick does. The film has the visual style of a cool kids show combined with a kids toy line. All the main vehicles of Team America are slick hi-tech super awesome looking power models emblazoned with a red white and blue paint job to nail the Stars n Stripes motif home. The team are decked out in natty SWAT-like uniforms with shades headsets and of course lots of big guns, whilst their base is a typical Bond-esque setup within Mount Rushmore with lots of flashy tech stuff, a big intelligent talking computer and their very own Nick Fury/Professor X type leader. All the bad guys look exactly as you would expect from a satirizing angle of Middle Eastern terrorists, lots of facial hair and rags. Oh and you can see the strings attached to the puppets too further enhancing the laughs.

Despite the film looking like a toy merchandise wet dream it is of course a full on adult adventure. This is the amazingly amusing thing about it all, its children's puppets swearing, having rampant sex and being killed in gruesome ways. Just as South Park is funny because its a naughty cartoon this works on the same level. The violence and visual obscenities are created at a puppet level so its never really shocking because its all being done with puppets and its simply more acceptable. A puppet being blown apart or eaten alive by sharks doesn't really shock because we all know its a children's toy, had it been live action it would be pretty horrific.

The other main funny bone tickler is the quite brutal mockery of famous stars, Middle Eastern folk, world leaders and of course the action genre. In between all the hyper action flick mockery various real actors get ripped on pretty well along with the Screen Actors Guild which has been hilariously renamed the Film Actors Guild. I loved the ultra liberal portrayal of this celebrity group, the way they are all made out to be enemies of Team America because they want peace and unity with the Middle East. They blame Team America for unnecessary killings, destruction, racism etc...and are blind to Kim Jong-il's plans...oh and the fact almost all of them get killed horribly. Talking of Kim Jong, what a way to go down in movie history! via Trey Parker's gut busting rendition (piss taking) in that completely racist voice he does so well, fantastic!

It is completely brilliant how Team America go into missions destroying anything and everything in their path to take down one or two terrorists. The way they blow up half of Cairo and its ancient treasures, Paris with its landmarks and are completely oblivious to the ruin because in the end they got their intended targets, so its all good. Collateral damage at its finest Hooray!!!

Even though the film can't escape its South Park routes, because its all Trey and Stone, that doesn't hinder it. Yeah all the voices are familiar, the satire isn't exactly new, 'Derkaderkastan' or the term 'Derka' has popped up in various South Park episodes I believe as speech for Africans and Middle Eastern folk, all foreign people simply speak the same kind of gibberish much like they do in certain South Park episodes, there are the odd risque musical numbers etc...At the same time there are some really edgy moments that seem truly un-PC but its so funny. When Gary infiltrates the terrorist headquarters at the start the puppet has a simple bath towel on his head! then inside the terrorist bar its all made out like the Mos Eisley cantina from 'A New Hope', simple but totally effective.

This film is so darn accurate in its analysis of US foreign policies and left wing activism I'm amazed it managed to surface. It virtually mocks everything about America and it all holds up to this day, I imagine it must make some Americans cringe. Next to that the action genre is an easy target but its still skewed perfectly here, right down to the last cheesy cliche. Funny thing is the film also looks terrific and really is a genuine homage to the use of marionettes. Everything looks so rich in detail its actually a shame the content will inevitably upset many in Hollywood, meaning the craftsman involved probably won't get the recognition they deserve, that's irony for you.