It’s been a long time since a comedy had me fearing for the seat I was sitting on, but watching a rabid assortment of soap-jawed marionettes solemnly swear, spew, and besmirch the civilised world under the bomb(t)astic rubrick of the Bush administration’s ‘war on terror’, I really got the willies. I understand this ranks me as a reactionary running-dog and impressionable delinquent – but at least I kept the chair clean.
The missing – and debatably sarcastic – link between Washington’s special-ops ideal and Gerry Anderson’s prelapsarian Thunderbirds, Team America are a cracked terrorist-fighting task force whose defiance of WMD-toting mullahs tends to leave the likes of Paris and the Pyramids wasted anyway. Trey Parker and his ‘South Park’ accomplice Matt Stone sift through this ostensible contradiction in the accompanying rock anthem ‘America: Fuck Yeah!’
More candid than the sniggering schoolboy politics is Parker’s justifiable pride in how his painstaking (and often painstakingly crude) puppetry shows up the human performers in live-action Jerry Bruckheimer-style jingoist extravaganzas, as elaborated in the serenade ‘I Miss You (And ‘Pearl Harbor’ Sucked)’. Team America recruit a Broadway heartthrob to infiltrate the evil-doers, and discover a fifth column of hand-wringing Hollywood liberals in league with North Korea’s crazed leader Kim Jong II.
Better sustained than the ‘South Park’ movie, ‘Team America’ delivers both spot-on movie deconstruction and gleeful destruction. It also teaches that there are different levels of piss-taking. The film might send up American war-mongers’ cartoonish world-view – a world of ‘dicks, pussies and assholes’ – but the joke’s still on the pussies.