Team America : the Cockroaches and the Bees

I saw “Team America: World Police” the other day. Like the directorial duo’s other great musicals, “South Park: The Movie” and “Cannibal, the Musical”, this one works as a crudely popular farce, but is littered with brilliant wit, as if it had been cast off during production and the directors had just never gotten around to cutting it out of the final film.

If you like potty humour and think blowing away or dismembering effigies of popular icons is funny, you’ll laugh throughout this film, and walk home with a month’s worth of pub reminiscences. If you are a refined soul, and miss the pitch-perfect comedies of the silver screen, there will be a dozen moments that make you laugh out loud — if you’re paying attention, and not busy covering your eyes or ears in distress.

Let me start by telling you about the voices. The voices in the film are perfect. Absolutely perfect. Every lilt, every accent, every pause. This goes double for the voices on the soundtrack — no surprise, since the directors are really musical producers born into an age of film.

What real country singer has ever sounded more like a country singer than the one singing “Freedom costs a buch-oh-five“? And the mournful version of “America, Fuck Yeah!” which plays over the final suicide mission was a flawless model of self-mocking reprise. The authors of the last farcical musical to hit the big screen could take a lesson from this film, if they hadn’t written this one as well.

The scenery is breathtaking. And the puppets : their eyes, hair, and features were so painfully good that I thought there would be a separate credit for their coiffeur (…and there was!).

Unfortunately, the music itself is only great; considering the musical talents of the writers, this is a real shame. There isn’t enough of it, and some of the better pieces are short.

Now for the drawbacks… while the puppeteering is genreally extraordinary, actual walking and hand-to-hand combat is painfully bad. I’m sure this was done intentionally, but it isn’t funny and dampens the scenes where it is obvious.

Many of the dumb jokes are carried a bit far; true to form for South Park, but more out of place and painful here.

I regretted seeing the film twice during the first half hour; but every time I began to think it a waste of time, there was a throwaway line or shot that alone made up for the price of admission.  By the time I left, I was hoping for a sequel.

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