Sunday, October 17, 2004

Team America

Which ever way you lean politically, your views are poked at in Team America. Whether it's the gung-ho team members who sally forth with their theme music: "America, Fuck Yeah!" or the pouty left-wingers including Hollywoods politically outspoken actors and rabble-rouser/documentarian Michael Moore. But that is only a small part of the films raison d’être. Where Team America really shines is in its deconstruction (for comic effect only!) of the Golan Globus and Jerry Bruckhemier action pictures of the 80s and 90s. For those us raised on these reluctant vigilante pictures (from First Blood to Above the Law to Lethal Weapon to Gone in 60 Seconds), the jokes strike home.
What I was particulary impressed with in this picture is how it never runs out of steam for its 90 minute run-time. The puppet concept does not get old, the satire stays sharp (if lowbrow and crude) through-out and the surprises (or should I say non-surprises, as it follows the reluctant vigilante structure religiously ) keep coming. Even the puppet sex is comically stimulating and as gratuitous as the equivalent scenes of the action genre. One of the best jokes is how wooden the acting and dialogue is, but how it is only a hair off the actual action films. In fact, many of the best jokes are not the quick pay-offs, they are the chuckle-to-yourself kind (the same type that occupy Christopher Guest films) where you see the conventions of the genre (the melodrama of the heros as they blow stuff up takes precedence to the collateral damage, the use of montage shortcuts to pump the adrenaline before the final showdown, the tragic past incident which the characters have to work past before they can come together, etc) on display for comedy not adrenaline purposes.
There are a couple of musical numbers injected into the proceedings which hit good comic notes. The most effective being the theme song, the lease effective was the Pearl Harbour number which is funny, but not as funny as it should have been.
Everyone I was with during the Friday night showing (which was pretty empty considering it was opening night) left smiling and mentioning their favorite parts of the film: A sign that the movie was successful with our crowd. I mention this because the four of them have quite different tastes in films. Not bad for a cursing, vulgar puppet show!


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