It may be a sign of the times that some of the funniest movie moments over the past 12 months have not involved real actors but puppets and computer-generated characters. Think of The Incredibles and Shrek2, or further back, Finding Nemo. The makers of South Park have in my view topped the lot with their string-puppet tour de force Team America, World Police, which is a two-hour assault on decency, family values, sober patriotism and the lefty Hollywood acting fraternity. In short, it is an utterly brilliant film. I cannot recall laughing so much over a film in recent years.
The premise is fairly basic. Team America is an assortment of super heroes and heroines who are as gung-ho as we are expected to imagine the real-life ones to be. They make all kinds of fantastic cockups in their chasing down of terrorists, such as blowing the Louvre art gallery in Paris to smithereens (fuck yeah!) But you sense that their intentions are honourable. They may be - horrors! - a bit lacking in nuance, but by God you are glad that such folk exist.
Then there are the various villains, such as President Kim, the evil North Korean dictator, the various assortment of Islamic terror groups, aided and abetted by a motly assortment of self-important acting boobs like Tim Robbins, the wretched Matt Damon and Susan Sarandon, and of course wretched UN weapons inspector Hans "Brix". They get their comeuppance in the end in satisfyingly brutal fashion.
I am not sure whether this piece of satire will have much effect on the views of the largely youthful audience I sat among the other night. Probably not. But I think the subliminal message of the film is quite effective. It tells us basically that America often makes errors with bad intelligence, but the threats of terror are real; that the nation has its heart in the right place and is willing to expend blood and treasure in defence of liberty around the world, while the bad guys are indeed as bad, and as mad, as portrayed.
by Jon Pearce