At the time it came out, I thought Team America was the funniest movie I had ever seen. It galvanized Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s penchant for rude, crude and cathartic satire into the big screen, a realization from Hollywood that these two funny boys from Colorado may have more storytelling potential than just making a cartoon about some kids in a mountain town. It was a swift critique of Bush and his wars in Iraq/Afghanistan, made even more effective through puppets who shit, vomit and piss all over the place.
That was 2004. Watching it now, Team America is still funny but not as resonant. The jokes about terror, “bad intelligence” and policing the world are still funny but deliver a much weaker political punch in the Trump era. The biggest connection to our time is through the film’s primary antagonist, the ever-so-ronely Kim Jong-il. As we buckle for potential war or catastrophic destruction with North Korea, its reassuring to know there are still artists like Parker, Stone and Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, the braindchildren behind the highly controversial The Interview, who are still willing to make comedic, political commentary.
Current world affairs aside, the jokes and skits here are solid. I was eagerly anticipating the “Michael Bay Pearl Harbor” song, the montage where Gary trains to the “montage” music, and the raucous “America, FUCK YEAH!” theme. What struck me even funnier this time is the entire notion of the Film Actors Guild, a group of Hollywood heavyweights who feel that that any world conflict or struggle can’t be solved without their superior, famous wit and their thousand dollar makeup. It’d be interesting to see who Parker and Stone would include in their group now, but if I had to guess, Ryan Gosling would take over the role of mentally disabled puppet from Matt Damon.
It’s a visual delight, a masterwork of action-packed and erotic puppetry that would make Jim Henson jealous and slightly turned on. Even 13 years later, its still worth another watch. You won’t laugh at all of the jokes, but you will still laugh.