World on a String

Team America is a renegade group of underground police who trot the globe in pursuit of kicking major terrorist ass. The latest recruit is Broadway actor Gary Johnston His mission, if he chooses to accept it, is to go undercover as a dark-skinned and scruffy terrorist. Team leader Spottswoode assures him that he’ll be fine — spying is acting after all. In addition, he’ll be escorted by four men and women, skillfully trained to look cool in an action pic genre. Among them is Lisa, a gorgeous blond, whose fiancée was recently murdered.

The best way to think of Team America is that they are hilariously naïve as the South Park kids. In the opening action sequence, they eliminate the terrorists in Paris but they topple the Eiffel Tower and blow up Louvre in the process. “Everything is bon,” one Team American assures the stunned Parisians. It captures the reckless American gung-ho spirit… that only anti-Americans would wholeheartedly believe.

Trey Parker and Matt Stone, working outside the realm of South Park, populate this movie with marionettes. While some movies flaunt CGI effects and advancement in computer animation, it’s quite refreshing they went in the opposite direction. The marionettes give the movie an apparent charm and its limitation is a breeding ground for creativity. In one scene, it’s jaw-dropping the way these puppets are positioned. It’s not something to read or hear about. It has to be seen. Come to think of it, the notorious scene shouldn’t come as a surprise. A regular guy would do the same thing if he’s given two puppets of different sex.

I pause and marvel at the creative freedom Parker and Stone has. Nevertheless, “Team America” might be too dependent on testosterone. This is a good thing when it blows stuff up and mock Jerry Bruckheimer at the same time. It’s bad when everything is taken as a joke. It’s serious enough to aim at any target. To love this movie is to love the way NRA loves its guns. I don’t know… it’s a mixed bag. Some jokes were deliciously funny and some were in bad taste. In light of what America is going through post 9/11, it’s not a bad idea to have a laugh, but this movie has an indifferent sense of humor. It’s afraid to attach itself on a side. If it’s cheering for something, it champions the universal love towards genitals and human cavities. “Team America” is an impressively juvenile effort but hardly fitting to the pits of our time.

Grade: B