Team America World Police: I’m Just Saying It’s a Classic

Not since Hitchcock experimented with high concept limitation films such as Rear Window and Rope has a film explored its central idea with such clarity and effectiveness. Spoofing action film clichés using marionettes grants South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone they framework to construct a visual masterpiece unlike any other.

While the attention to detail makes every scene a catalogue of brilliant obsessive minutia, it is the subtle choices made within the range of possibilities that make key details telling examples of genius. They find the right, funny way to present action marionettes at every turn.

It should seem that animators used to simple caricatures resembling construction paper cut-out would want the most basic puppets for their concept. Using high tech emotive faces was a strange, risky choice, but damned if it doesn’t work. The cruder marionettes would be hilarious in a five minute segment, but over two hours, the puppets need to be able to act. Or at least blink.

Reusing the “Montage” song from the ski lodge episode shows the film-maker’s trust of their audience. They must know that fans of the show would recognize the song and be able to accept what might be seen as a failure of the imagination. The truth is that the song “Montage,” about how learning is presented in Hollywood movies, is simply the ultimate description and evisceration of this movie cliché. They’ll use it again because it’s perfect.

Just as the clumsy motions of string guided actors made of wood enhances the silliness of Team America, so too the discrepancy between the purported messages of the movie and the end result creates an intellectual wobble that is transporting and perhaps narcotic. Making fun of pompous liberal actors in an action spoof is so misguided and stupid that the more meticulous the work put into every frame, the more ludicrous the movie gets. And why is Samuel Jackson there? What did he ever do? Is it just that he had to be in every movie made for a stretch of years and this would be no exception?

Well, upon rereading what I’ve just written (okay, I scanned it) I’m reminded of every complaint I’ve ever heard about criticism taking the joy out of the enjoyable, so I feel as though I’ve done my job. I’m only saying, it’s a classic. To remind you of why you enjoy Team America, let me just say, the cats.

–Dan Kilian
—————————————– Matt Watches The Watchmen
—————————————– Three Variations on a Joke


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