Last night I finally saw Team America. (I know it's been out for less than a week, but there was a time when I would have insisted on seeing it on opening night. That was impossible this time).
The review in The Stranger had this criticism of the film:
“It's far too one-sided for its own good. The film is so busy skewering the pomposity of liberals that it almost lets conservatives off the hook, as though the filmmakers took a dare to try to make the most outrageous political satire possible without mentioning a certain name. It's telling that the right's biggest puppet, dear old Dubya, is basically given a pass.”
Reading that before seeing Team America, I was a little worried. I've seen less than perfect South Park episodes. Then again, I've also seen sheer genius. (The Great Expectations episode and the Radiohead episode come to mind).
Well, the movie started and I was laughing from the get-go, whatwith the exploding opening credits followed by another explosion. The songs are, as usual, a strong point (I especially like the ballad “Pearl Harbor Sucks (And I Miss You)”). And then there is the “criticism” of liberal Hollywood. It was then that I realised that some liberals just can't take a goddamned joke. And that's all it was. It IS silly that these celebrities take themselves so seriously. They're fucking actors for christsake! They have the same ideas as any other liberal, yet somehow they feel that just because they are famous, it is up to them to “save the world”. It's true that money talks. But it often feels like it's more of a publicity thing for them than it is social work. Bono is a good example of this.
As for Bushy's absence in the film, I didn't miss him. For one thing, the man practically makes fun of himself. If I need it pointed out to me, Jon Stewart already has that market cornered. It seems to me that Trey and Matt set out to have a good time. They've mentioned before that they only want to make each other laugh. It is clear in interviews that most of the motivation for the jokes are just that “it's funny to see puppets do stuff”. And it is. Especially when puppets fight and explode and die horrible, gruesome deaths. That IS funny. And it's just as funny to see Susan Sarandon splat on the sidewalk as it would be to see Bushy die in a similar fashion.
In short, Team America is a comedy. These are heavy times, so it's nice to see smart that's also light on the social. For the most part, they just wanted to make fun of actors and the silliness of action movies. And I don't mind. I think people expected too much because Bigger, Longer and Uncut was so political. But I honestly don't think they were going for that so much this time. If I want to laugh about politics, I will watch The Daily Show. If I want to laugh about Ben Afleck, I will watch South Park (“You almost make me forget about tacos!”) or Team America. And I'm fine with that order of things.
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