And now, my top ten favorites of 2000-2009 starts to get explosive, with
#6. Team America: World Police (2004)
It was a strong decade for comedy, or maybe I just enjoyed comedies more because I needed them so much. (Depressing-ass decade.) But of the dozens and dozens of comedies I saw between 2000 and 2009, there was not a single one funnier than Team America. The uncensored version in particular is a guarantee that if I watch it, I will literally have trouble breathing. That sex scene… The idea that world-class technicians such as Bill Pope (The Matrix, Spider-Man 2, Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World) spent all that time making that scene happen… It’s all simply breath-taking.
How did this movie happen? Who let it happen? Can we find them, and thank them from the bottom of our hearts?
Team America is a classic American action film in the Bruckheimer/Bay tradition, where Broadway megastar Gary Johnson is recruited by a top-secret anti-terrorism unit called “Team America”, who police the world. Throughout his adventures, Gary makes friends, finds love, and learns how to use his amazing acting to save the world. The villain of the movie is Kim Jong-Il, who, if you don’t read the New York Times, is a real person. He’s a flamboyant dictator who rules North Korea. It is not known if he actually owns a piano, or giant panthers.
In answer to my earlier question, how this movie happened is that Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the brilliant anarchic creators of Comedy Central’s South Park, are huge fans of both musical theater and weird old cartoons like Thunderbirds. They’re also some of America’s most astute and sly social critics, and this movie is clearly their response to eight years of George Bush Jr.’s America. How it happened the way it happened is that Matt and Trey had the power to get it made this way. By all accounts, it will never happen this way again. Team America is one big brilliant flash in the sky; in addition to all of the above it’s a tremendous satire of bombastic action films and absurd movie conventions.
The funniest part about Team America is realizing that guys like Michael Bay and Stephen Sommers totally didn’t get the joke – to the point where 2009’s G.I. Joe movie saw an Eiffel Tower scene that completely ripped off Team America’s! There’s nothing better than comedy that has the balls to get right up under the nose of their targets.
This is brilliant satire, and at the same time, as immature and potty-mouthed as it gets. Essential scene: The “Pussies, dicks, and assholes” speech, obviously.
Oh yeah, and if you’re just hearing about this movie for the first time and you follow the link to that speech you will finally find what I have not mentioned so far but which you may already suspect: Yes, the stars of Team America are marionettes.
As many great moments as we were given by Steve Carell, Seth Rogen, Will Ferrell, and all the other terrific comedians to emerge during the decade, those guys were all at a disadvantage, because they weren’t puppets. If Matt Stone & Trey Parker didn’t bother to write a script for Team America and just did a shot-for-shot remake of some piece of shit like Van Helsing or Transformers 2, as long as they shot it with puppets they’d still have topped every other comedy all decade long. Puppets are just that funny.