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"Team America: World Police"

Directed by Trey Parker.
Written by Trey Parker, Matt Stone and Pam Brady.
Starring the voices of Trey Parker, Matt Stone, Kristen Davis and Darren Norris.
Release Year:  2004

Review Date:  10/16/04


In the biggest surprise of the year, "Team America: World Police" is the only film I've seen in 2004 that features near-non-stop laughter and some of the wrongest comedy to ever hit the screen.  I almost feel wrong saying this to you, but please--see this movie right now, because you will love it...despite the fact that may be morally opposed to almost everything happening onscreen.

An action-comedy that seems to be based on another similar U.K. property called "Thunderbirds" (made into a live-action film here in the States over the summer), "Team America" might be a great parody of "Thunderbirds" but since I've never seen it, I just assumed that we would have a satire of action-comedies on our hands...and that's where "Team America" really shines.  Team America, a group of five heroes led by the mysterious Spottswoode (voice of Darren Norris), combats terrorists around the world uses brains, brawn and telepathy to take out baddies wherever trouble arises.  After a mission in Paris leaves one team member dead, Spottswoode needs to recruit a replacement, so he goes after the nation's greatest stage actor, Gary Johnston (director/co-writer Trey Parker), to infiltrate the Mohammad Jihad terrorist organization to take out a host of WMD's (weapons of mass destruction) stockpiled by an Asian honcho named Kim Jong Il (also voiced by Parker).

The plot alone of "Team America" would have been funny as a live-action film, but as a marionette action-comedy this shit is unbelievably hilarious.  You wouldn't think that watching dolls on strings (strings that are not attempted to even be covered up by CGI) shooting at other dolls on strings would be this funny...and then, in the intro, people are getting lit up by gunfire and you almost can't stop laughing at watching the Team America dolls dance around with their various machine guns in hand spouting off lines like "Eat this!" or "Terrorize this!" the whole while.  The way this thing is set up, watching them do all sorts of things is just funnier because the marionettes are obviously not able to really fistfight, or really kiss, or dance, or really show any kind of emotion...even when Gary--while "undercover" in his Middle Eastern garb soon after being recruited--is trying to give his teammates "the signal" when he is trying to abort by waving his hands wildly in the back of a moving jeep, I could not stop laughing.

The creation of "South Park" guys Parker and Matt Stone, "Team America" is not a film I was overly excited for prior to release.  I'm not a "South Park" fan, and I did not really like "South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut" either.  But even in the "South Park" feature film, I had to admit--the songs were sometimes brilliant, and here in "Team America", the score might be the best thing about the movie.  Using cheesy action theme music during the action sequences and lyrical numbers to bridge the acts, you will love the music if you saw a ton of action films in the 80s and 90s like I did, if anything because songs like "America...Fuck Yeah" and "Montage" really do capture the essence of...well, you'll see.  Even a rant on films by Michael Bay seems funnier in song; who would have thought that a critique of the acting in "Pearl Harbor" would have been so funny?

All this, and the film is just so wrong, lines like "Oh Gary, I'm not going to fuck your mouth, so get in the car already!" shouldn't have been allowed, but whammo, there they are.  The racism is rampant in "Team America"; when a Korean pilot is shot down, his last words are "Ping Pong!  Ping Pong!!!"; and a scene featuring the destruction of Panama Canal shows us a steel drummer dancing on the Canal at 7:15 in the morning just before he's unceremoniously drowned...and, his donkey and three roosters go right along with him.  Kim Jong Il's stereotyped Engrish won't win over any fans, either...hell, the title for his song is "I'm So Ronery", a play on "lonely" that somehow is funny AND wrong at the same time.

And, don't even get me started on the sex scene, or the treatment of homosexuals, or the fact that all the Middle Easterners in "Team America" only seem able to say "mohammad", "jihad", or "dergery dergery."  And, plenty of other famous people get dragged through the mud here, even Helen Hunt, who is voiced by a man in this film.

Which brings this full circle--if you can come into "Team America" knowing that the chances that you will be offended by it are near 100%, then you will actually have a great time watching this film.  Not for the sensitive!

Rating:  Opening Weekend


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09