Except perhaps for The Passion of the Christ, I can’t think of a film I’ve seen that is more deserving of its “R” rating than Team America: World Police which I saw Friday night while the rest of the family is out of town.
There is plenty in this movie to offend everyone and I strongly encourage those who are offended by, well, everything you can imagine that’s offensive (and some creatively offensive stuff you haven’t imagined yet), to skip it. However, for those who process the world as I do — a little off-key and out-of-focus, then the absurdity of the film results in one of the most ironic celebrations of uniquely American freedom of expression I’ve ever witnessed. (I’ll get back that in a minute.)
Update (11 years later): Watch the movie thanks to YouTube:
Again, before you interpret what I’m saying as encouragement for you to see the film, let me repeat once more that it is filled with sophomoric goof-ball stupidity (probably only enjoyed by Three Stooges and South Park fans) and content guaranteed to offend you and anyone else who is straight or gay or of any ethnic background or gender. It wallows in vulgarity, crudeness and violence and sex (involving puppets).
You will likely hate it and wonder why I had anything positive to say about it. But I do, and not because it is rumored to be “anti-Michael-Moore.” Indeed, there’s been lots of pre-release build-up that right-wingers will love the movie because it mocks Michael Moore, Alec Baldwin and the whole pretentious Hollywood leftist cartel.
And while the movie does those things (to put it mildly), there is no way the right-wingers I know will love a film skewering American foreign policy as one characterized by a doctrine of blow-up first, ask questions later (nor, for that matter, will they be receptive to a running joke about multiples of 911). This is not a film that will please the anti-Michael-Moore crowd despite the graphicallly pleasant way the marionette version of Moore, a suicide bomber, is blown to smithereens (and this is one of the less-puppet-violent scenes in the film).
At its core, the movie is less a political polemic than it is a chomping satire of Hollywood action films — of boilerplate plot lines, cinematic devices, big-time genre directors, musical scores and, in hilarious fashion — the use of montages to communicate in a couple of minutes how the central character is transformed from inexperienced into expert.
There are so many baseball-bat-to-the-head slams at Hollywood cliches, it is impossible to keep up with them. A wonderful example of the depth of the filmakers’ Shermanesque approach to torching Hollywood is a song that compares how much the singer loves someone to how bad the film Pearl Harbor was. And, if you sit through the entire ending credits, you’ll be treated to a short ditty called, “You’re Useless, Alec Baldwin.”
Members of the Film Actors Guild (FAGs) are portrayed as unwitting puppets (metaphorically and literally) of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il who is one of the funniest characters in the movie.
The Nashville crowd I saw the movie with were especially moved (to tears of laughter) by the parody of a Toby Keith pro-America, kick the rest of the world in the butt, anthem, the title of which is, well, Cheneyesque.
Again, while I encourage you to skip seeing it if you’re the least put-off by, say, the longest vomit-scene in movie history, this film is a celebration of a brand of artistic freedom that is uniquely American and, frankly, hard to understand by others. I say this because it is a big-studio, big-time production that is clearly intended to be hugely profitable by pandering to those who like to drink crudeness at a firehose, where profit motivations far outweigh the chances that all involved with the movie will likely have a death-sentence issued on them by some fundamentalist cleric somewhere.
As this film is viewed around the world, the international audiences will both laugh “at” the stereotypically American xenophobe, portrayed as trigger-happy cowboys who will blow up the Louvre in order to kill four terrorists. Still those international viewers will be unconsciously (or perhaps knowlingly) confronted by the extraordinary fountain of creative freedom that allows such work to be produced and released in the U.S.
(However, come to think of it, it could be produced other places, which reminds me of a joke Ronald Reagan used to love to tell [second paragraph from bottom].)