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Team America: World Police (2004)
Director: Trey Parker

review by Shiraz Rahim

With the American presidential elections in the near future, Team America: World Police has been steadily gaining momentum as a film of conservative propaganda aimed as a response to the popular, liberal works of Michael Moore (Fahrenheit 9/11 being the most recent). As such, it comes as no surprise that the film would contain messages supporting the actions of President Bush. In my opinion, and contrary to many critiques I've read on the film, Team America takes a healthy stance in between both the Democratic and Republican views on foreign and domestic affairs to support one major point: American troops are in the right in their handling of foreign nations. Despite my views against many of the political arguments presented in Team America, I'll try to make this article as unbiased as possible.

The film begins with a look at Osama bin Laden as he walks casually down the streets of Paris. Soon after, several helicopters come flying in bearing the name 'Team America' on their sides. A huge battle ensues, leaving bin Laden's henchmen brutally murdered, a member of Team America, Carson, mortally wounded, and the city of Paris in complete ruin. Following this entanglement, the team recruits Gary Johnston, a rising pop actor played by producer Trey Parker, to go undercover and act like a Middle Eastern man to infiltrate the headquarters of the terrorists. He succeeds and manages to discover a bit about the true plot to attack the world. The team's investigation leads them to North Korea, where they learn that the fascist dictator Kim Jong Il has a plan to destroy the world and has recruited Hollywood's top liberal actors, ranging from Alec Baldwin to Susan Sarandon to Liv Tyler, to keep the leaders of the world busy at a global peace conference while he carries out his plan for global destruction. All the while, a love affair begins between Gary and Lisa, another member of the team played by Kristen Miller, which involves a headed conflict since Sarah, the other woman on the team, also has a crush on Gary. To make matters even worse, Gary struggles with his own conscience, realising that he must save the world but also does not want to abandon his promising career and have the thought of potentially failing on his mind.

Although not entirely supporting Republican actions in terms of foreign affairs by displaying the destruction of several world cities caused by American military actions, the film does not entirely support Democratic points either. This fact is most clearly seen by the film's strategic choice to name the group of liberal Hollywood actors the Film Actors Guild (referred to always by its acronym FAG) as well as by the brutally violent deaths of each of these actors at the end of the film (not to mention Michael Moore being a key villain in the film). Instead, the film displays the fact that, although the American military and Bush's plans are bad, terrorists are much, much worse, and thus our foreign actions are justified and necessary.

This political argument is what muddies up the film's potentially great plot and humour since it takes away from the pure comedy that the film contains. Aside from Kim Jong Il's hilarious accent and musical number I'm So Ronery, the film has several theme songs, jokes, and images that serve to make the movie so much more interesting and entertaining. The film also contains several references to popular movies and events that I found very cleverly utilised and very comical, most notably a few allusions to Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill Vol.1. In my opinion, making political statements in movies manages to make the film much more controversial and takes away from the enjoyment an otherwise hilarious movie would provide. If not for this political argument, Team America could potentially be one of the best movies of the year. Whenever I wasn't thinking about the arguments supporting the American military that were presented in the film or the horrible portrayal of Middle Easterners, I was engrossed in the film and laughing out loud, something I haven't done in a movie theatre for a long time. Needless to say, the movie has some highlights, and the creators of South Park have presented a great piece of comedy I'm sure they can be proud of. I suppose the most important thing while watching the movie is to not pay attention to the subliminal messages littered throughout the film and simply enjoy the movie as a comedy, leaving the real thinking for after you've left the theatre (unless, of course, you support the messages of the film).

All in all, I would recommend seeing Team America simply for the comical factor and the amount of enjoyment it can provide. Whether you're a Bush-hater, Bush-supporter, or completely indifferent, Team America, with its dancing marionettes, toy army helicopters, and small cats portrayed as giant tigers, is a film that will leave you laughing for days.
Team America

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