The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Team America: World Police

I had waited with huge expectations for this political satire from the "South Park" boys, Parker and Stone. What I'd like to report is that they are still mad geniuses, even if "America" is more uneven, less a startling positive surprise than the "South Park" film. Not as consistently funny, the songs aren't as good, and there are longer "draggy" periods. That said, let me add that it is also a quite remarkable feat. The creation of a marrionette action-adventure world (brought to us by the Chiodo brothers, who, I believe, were responsible for "Killer Klowns From Outer Space" is virtually unprecedented.
The art direction is impeccable, and the metaphors work savagely well--actors as puppets, the Left taking advice from mindless screen stars, the Right watching all of the destruction as if it were a video game or children's action show. I would suspect that Stone and Parker lean Right on issues of social security, Left on issues of personal freedom. This makes for a decent balance, and is not the problem.
If there is a problem, it probably comes from the fact that the sheer logistics of making this movie were overwhelmingly harder than the "South Park" effort. No one has done anything like this for decades...maybe EVER (I never saw that "Thunderbirds" film), and the conceit works beautifully, and must have been nightmarish. Possibly as a result, some creative aspects suffer. But I can't say that without adding that the entire effort is a staggeringly creative performance by two guys at the top of their game. With all of its flaws, I'm still giving it a strong "B." It's a hoot.


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