Team America: World Police Review

Short info:

Directed by: Trey Parker

Written by: Trey Parker, Matt Stone & Pam Brady

Stars: Trey Parker, Matt Stone, Kristen Miller

Released: 15 October 2004

Genre: Comedy/Action

No spoilers to be found here!

Had a free morning, looked through Netflix to find something of interest and finally stumbled into this thing. I thought, why not, how bad could it be? And boy did I almost literally get blown away. In short, Team America: World Police is an absolute blast and these words will tell you why.

The movie starts out with Broadway actor Gary Johnston getting recruited by the secret counter-terrorist organization Team America: World Police. He and the rest of the team has to save the world from middle-eastern terrorists and North Korea.

And that is basically all I will say about the plot. It doesn’t sound very complicated, it isn’t very complicated, but I think it works, in a word, “gloriously”. The story may at first seem a bit shallow and predictable, and you would be totally correct, but you do need to realize that narrative isn’t this movie’s focus. It is all about comedy, the story’s only purpose is to put our characters in funnier and funnier situations. Don’t go into this movie expecting an incredible plot and you won’t be disappointed.

This movie is made by the makers of South Park, and you can tell. If you do not like the show’s sense of humor, then Team America won’t be anything for you either. But if you do like it, please watch this movie at your earliest convenience. The comedy is out of this world, I did not expect this movie to be as funny as it was. Every single scene, sequence and frame is filled to the brim with comedy gold. Almost all of the jokes hit perfectly, and they just never stop. The movie is a little under 100 minutes, but since you will be laughing so hard you’d think it wasn’t even an hour. It has been a long time since I saw a movie that I could cry from laughing continuously throughout, but this was one of these and I couldn’t be happier for it. If the best part of your comedic movie is it’s comedy, which excels, then you have crafted a very good comedy film.

TEAM AMERICA: WORLD POLICE, Kim Jong II, 2004, (c) Paramount/courtesy Everett Collection
The very bad guy Kim Jong-il

But aside from all the jokes, the movie was pretty creative when it came to it’s visual style. But first a disclaimer, I have never seen Thunderbirds, and know that Team America was partly inspired by it, at least in a visual sense. I will not compare it to Thunderbirds, I will only critique the visuals of the movie I actually watched. With that out of the way, I loved the look of this movie. I have never seen a movie entirely made up of marionette puppets and was a bit skeptical of how they would pull it of. But they do it in style, and this is one of the most visually interesting movies I have seen in quite a while. The idea of the puppets in the first place is very clever, because when you make everything a puppet, everything becomes funnier. I think that the puppets themselves work so well because the creators knew their strengths and weaknesses. The puppets they use are pretty detailed and can do a lot of different kinds of movements. The team use these functions of the puppets for simpler actions (moving limbs and heads and so on) and make it look realistic. But how do you make a fistfight between two puppets look realistic? You don’t, just make some very basic and crude movements and and the jokes basically tells itself. This actual skilled use of the puppets, combined with very over-the-top basic movement in order of comedy creates a wonderful and unique creative style that I can’t recall every having seen.

Another aspect of the movie that can’t go unnoticed is the songs and the accompanying musical numbers. I think I counted about 5-6 of them and I would argue that everyone single one is memorable. Like I mentioned in my The Nightmare Before Christmas review, I like it when a movie incorporates it’s musical numbers in the actual narrative and push the plot forward, and every single song in Team America does this. They are a little different from each other and serve a different aspect of the story, but they are all extremely catchy. I have found myself listening to the songs when doing unrelated tasks, like writing this review. In short, great songs that I will continue to listen to for at least little while longer.

Team America in all their puppet glory

I have been gushing quite a lot about this movie, but I do however have some problems with it. My main issue is with the Team America-team itself. It consists of six people including our main character Gary, and aside from him and maybe one or two other characters, they are all kind of forgettable. I get that the point of the team is to spurt out one-liners and be funny, but I still think you should be able to infuse a bit more character into these puppets. I would then be a bit more engaged when things are going south and get a bit more attached in the rare occasions of drama. The movie doesn’t depend much on character moments and therefore doesn’t suffer very much from some shallow characters. I do however still think that the movie should have built up the team a bit more and make the individual puppets a tad more unique.

I also thought the very end of the movie was a tad disappointing, and without spoiling, almost becoming sequel-bait. Since Matt Stone and Trey Parker have said that they will never ever do a sequel, the finale ends up not being as fulfilling as it easily could have been. A tip is to watch the entirety of the end credits for a little more resolution. The last piece of critique I will give this movie is that I thought it at times was a bit to gory and disgusting, at least for me. I didn’t think it was that funny to see all the graphical content and it feels like the creators added it for pure shock value. I see this as a very minor gripe, since someone very well could like this, but I sure don’t.

Team America: World Police is a forgotten gem of a comedy movie. If you like comedies like South Park or similar, then this movie is an absolute must-watch. From start to finish, it’s an absolute comedy-goldmine and I can’t quite remember when I laughed as hard, long and much as with this movie (maybe Hot Fuzz). The story is very simple, but as a vessel to tell a lot of jokes, it works well enough. The characters aren’t all that memorable and are mainly used to say funny things, but that is really the only major gripe with the movie. The songs are catchy and fun to listen to, the visual style is really unique and the writing is good enough to include on the voyager missions. If you want a movie to entertain you over the moon for little under two hours, look no further than Team America: World Police.



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