Saturday, October 16, 2004

In Your Face, Michael Moore!

I just had to go out and see Team America today (it opened last night). No regrets. I laughed out loud until the tears were rolling down my face, and so did everyone else in the theater. It is one of the funniest things I have ever seen on the big screen, and very cathartic, too. The lefties can have their Fahrenheit 911. Fair warning: the movie contains graphic puppet violence, graphic puppet sex, and graphic puppet language. If you don't mind those things, then it's a must-see. The movie sticks it to left-wing celebrities (by name), sticks it to the UN, sticks it to Michael Moore, gores a bunch of "progressive" sacred cows, and shows a lot of affection for the U.S. military. I have a feeling this movie will become a cult favorite among the personnel in the U.S. armed forces. The movie is an outstanding technical achievement, and you really grow to like the puppets a lot more than the characters in typical Hollywood movies. The music in the soundtrack is also one of the big stars of the film.

The movie rocks with a real ass-kickin' and joyous patriotism that's been so sorely lacking in Hollywood these last few [years, decades, generations?].

The creators of this movie are also the ones who created South Park (which I never much got into). They are on record as saying "We might hate conservatives, but we really [effin'] hate liberals." Some of the younger and hipper conservative writers have noticed a growing demographic of "South Park Republicans" over the last few years. I understand the phenomenon a little better after seeing this movie.

Probably many lefties who see the movie will be outraged. The ones who aren't and get some big laughs out of it may well be changed. Hell, I can remember the belly laughs I got out of reading P.J. O'Rourke about 11 years ago being one of the first things to shake me out of the grim leftism I held at the time...


Well, it seems that a few of our liberal movie reviewer friends just aren't getting it. There is a tendency to say that the movie skewers everybody and should offend everyone equally. Well, no. David Edelstein of Slate says (warning: spoilers in this article and the one linked below):

So I was up-up-up for Parker and Stone's Team America: World Police (Paramount). The title alone rocks: It tells you that the movie is a stink bomb lobbed at American arrogance and overweening militarism. That'll piss off the right! And the open letter to Parker and Stone from lefty peacenik Sean Penn decrying their anti-left irreverence at a time of international crisis: That was promising, too. Give 'em points for stirring up bipartisan outrage.

Sorry, there, Edelstein, but it looks like you're one of the 'squares'. The movie is a celebration of America's militarism. The collateral damage that occurs is for the sake of puppet high comedy, not for the sake of a political statement! In fact (minor spoiler) the one major successful terrorist attack in the movie is played for anything but comedy. When the aftermath of the attack was shown, the theater was dead silent. Parker and Stone take the terrorist threat quite seriously. The speech that Gary gives at the end, while crude, expresses a philosophy that is the truth, and is in keeping with the celebration of the American military in the rest of the movie.

Hank Steuver in the Washington Post ends his review with:

Stunned by all the fun, I am almost moved to salute Parker and Stone for their nuanced and careful takedown of American jingoism and the seemingly disastrous foreign policy that Team America stands for.

Only that isn't quite how it played to an audience on Tuesday night, at one of those free-ticket radio station giveaway previews in a packed cineplex in Northwest Washington. The biggest laughs came when "Team America" assaulted any and all concepts of ethnicity, or when the joke was on gays, Michael Moore or a vast left-wing idiocy.

The movie feels like an elaborate inside joke on the very Americans laughing hardest at its easiest gags, oblivious to the sly, allegorical digs at a USA brand of bravado. What I took as a lampoon of Bushworld seemed to be received, in the seats around me, as a triumph of Bushworld. Pollsters and campaign workers, take note: "Team America" will only further confound your election-year data.
Hey, Hank! The inside joke here is on you!

Update: Lee at Right Thinking From the Left Coast has done a blog entry on Team America which fisks Roger Ebert's clueless liberal review of the film.

Update: John Hawkins also has a great review.

Update: Another great review (but full of spoilers!) is here.

1 comment:

Matt said...

I heard one of the creators of Southpark interviewed by Terry Gross of NPR. It was really interesting. He said (paraphrase)"of course the show is violent, and gross. Kids are violent and gross, and the show is about kids. And the adults are hypocritical because even though they are trying to be good and not kill each other that is exactly what they'd like to do." Now here is something amazing and is, to the best of my memory, exactly what he said: "People are born evil and are made better by society". WOW! I was stunned! Terry didn't have a lot to say about that either.