Sunday, 16 December 2012

Team America: World Police (2004)

“9/11 x 100?”

“Yes. 91,100!”

This is, essentially, exactly like an episode of South Park, only longer, more cinematic, with different characters and with puppets instead of animation. As my girlfriend pointed out, you can even recognise the voices. It’s clever, though: Matt Stone and Trey Parker have essentially taken the standard Hollywood plot (Protagonist is really good at something. Protagonist suffers personal crisis and loses mojo. Protagonist gets mojo back and saves the day.) and South Parked it up.

The opening scene is well clever: a bit of rubbish puppetry is slowly revealed to be puppetry within the film. The actual puppets are deliberately made to look as Gerry Anderson as possibly, right down to the strings,the lack of genitals and the way they walk. Every possible drop of humour is wrung out of this, from the puppet sex scene (just look at all those positions!) to the fight scenes. Specially the fight scenes. The puppet kung fu just killed me.

Obviously this film can’t avoid being deeply political, considering what it’s about, but there doesn’t seem to be any particular ideological subtext being pushed here, just equal opportunity piss taking. Gung-ho right-wing All-American chauvinism gets well and truly skewered, but so do left-wing Hollywood celebrities who think that being able to act gives them some sort of political role. I realise that the absence of any obvious political viewpoint usually indicates a passive sort of conservatism, but I’m a Guardian reader and I love this film.

I appreciated the Mos Eisley touches to the tavern (although of course a bunch of teetotal Islamic fundamentalists would probably not go anywhere near such a place),but then I’m a geek. I love the songs, particularly “Montage”, which completely skewers any number of Hollywood movies, and, of course, “Pearl Harbor Sucks, and I Miss You”, which is so, so true. But the film is dominated by the real life Bond villain that was the late Kim Jong l, who, bizarrely, was a massive film buff and probably saw this movie. Oh, to have been a fly on the wall…

Personally,I love this movie. Whether or not you do will depend on whether or not you like South Park.

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