On reflection, one of the coolest outcomes of this weekend was the relative box office failure of “Team America: World Police.” Would it have been sweet if the R-rated puppet action movie was the #1 film in America? Sure. But I’m imagining how Trey Parker and Matt Stone are bitching and whining about how “Shark Tale” owned their asses, and that’s even better.
Oh yeah, the movie is more or less a masterpiece. Few critics have really nailed why. Obviously, it’s the best parody of the Jerry Bruckheimer formula movie you’ll ever see. You’ve got the hero with a terrible secret, the guy on the team who hates him because of a terrible secret, the hero losing his nerve in a dive bar … it’s scary how well Parker and Stone mimicked that. And everyone is doing a good job underscoring how funny the dick and vomit jokes are. And the songs.
But as a socio-political treatise, the movie is just brilliant. Early on, Gary is swept into the organization by Spotswood, the Team America honcho. He gives him the usual Bruckheimer-y pep talk, and it’s Weekly Standard boilerplate. “There are people who want to kill you because you represent everything they hate: Freedom. These people are called terrorists.” The Team America theme song unapologetically announces the right of Americans to invade everything: “Freedom is the only way!” Even before the “dicks fuck assholes” theme crops up, it’s obvious that Parker and Stone think America’s current foreign policy is inflammatory and stupid. It should be obvious that the celebrities, who critics feel got rough treatment, are not judged half as harshly. Watching them blow up and calling Michael Moore “a giant socialist weasel” are another side of the argument – people who automatically assume America and corporations are evil are fuckwits.