Sunday, October 17, 2004

Team America--Fuck, Yawn

Now there's a movie for 14-yr-olds. Just old enough to stop watching Power Rangers and think humping naked puppets, puking, and lots of "fucks" and "shits" is hee-larious. Don't get me wrong, no one has ever accused Matt Stone and Trey Parker's brand of comedy as being any kind of intelligent. But after Cannibal: The Musical, South Park: Bigger, Longer, & Uncut, I'm not so sure those guys can do a feature length movie without a lot of filler. Cannibal: The Musical was their first feature length movie, and that was actually way funnier than I ever expected it to be, but it also drags along and feels a lot longer than its running time. The commentary track might be funnier than the movie, too. Plus, the range of voices they can do is severely limited (watch Cannibal to see the genesis of many South Park characters' voices) and Team America uses so many South Park voices it borders on distracting (Cartman as Kim Jong-Il?).

Now, criticizing these guys is a lot like picking on Special Olympians for not being able to compete in a normal track meet, but I was expecting something new (other than this being a puppet movie, there isn't much of anything in here they haven't done funnier and better in their South Park universe), and I expected it to be pretty funny. I mean, South Park is funny. The South Park movie was funny. This is mostly about as funny as Howard Stern throwing balogne at a stripper (so if that doubles you over in stitches, I guess there's no point in discussing how funny this is w/ me). Sure, there are some chuckles (the puppet sex scene, the "America--FUCK YEAH!" song--at first), but it's like it could have been a really funny short film. As a feature length work, it commits the cardinal sin of shock comedy that's "just meant to provoke people"--it's mostly boring. From the trailer, there seemed like this could be a pretty funny social satire, but I'm beginning to think Trey and Matt aren't up to anything smarter than dick and pussy jokes.

And, in case anyone else was wondering why Michael Moore gets skewered so mercilessly after Matt appeared in Bowling for Columbine, here's the deal:

They reserve their harshest treatment, however, for “Fahrenheit 9/11” filmmaker Michael Moore — but their disdain is as much personal as political.

Stone, who is from Littleton, Colo., agreed to talk about his hometown and the infamous high-school shooting there for Moore’s anti-gun documentary “Bowling for Columbine.”

“We have a very specific beef with Michael Moore,” Stone said. “I did an interview, and he didn’t mischaracterize me or anything I said in the movie. But what he did do was put this cartoon right after me that made it look like we did that cartoon.”

Parker and Stone still harbor hard feelings about that sassy, anti-gun cartoon because they feel it was done in “South Park” style. They believe the proximity to Stone’s interview misled some fans into thinking they had done the cartoon, even though Moore never said they did.

For this slight, Moore’s punishment in “Team America” is extreme: he’s depicted as a gibbering, overweight, hot-dog eating buffoon who straps explosives to his body to blow up the American do-gooders. The puppet was reportedly stuffed with ham when it blew.

I did always wonder why that cartoon looked so South Park-like, but Matt/Trey weren't credited for it anywhere.

Also, their attitude on being informed and voting is just brilliant:

Overall, the movie is just meant to provoke people, regardless of their politics.

“That’s much more interesting than, ’Here’s what we think!”’ Stone said. “We don’t know anything about foreign policy or anything. We don’t know anything about anything.”

“We make cartoons,” Parker added, with mock feebleness.

In a recent Rolling Stone magazine article, Stone mocked hip-hop mogul P. Diddy’s “Vote or Die” registration campaign, saying he didn’t think “uninformed” people should be encouraged to go to the polls.

“My whole thing is I just wish uninformed people would just stay home,” Stone told The Associated Press. “If you don’t know who you’re going to vote for, there’s no shame in not voting.”

Personally, I'd encourage the "uninformed" to save their 8 bucks and spend the movie's 100-minute running time getting informed. Hell, Bush's antics are way funnier than most of this movie anyway.


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