From the Speaks-For-Itself, Don't-It? Dept.: My last thought regarding the failure of Team America: World Police, to which I've probably already devoted too much time and space in "Cheer and Loafing in El Sobrante" (January 5, 2005), comes by way of Wednesday's Internet Movie Database "News" column:
"Matt Stone has finally explained why Matt Damon's puppet in recent marionette movie Team America: World Police looks 'retarded' - it was accidental. Stone, who made the satirical film with his South Park partner Trey Parker, was surprised when Damon's puppet came out of the oven looking nothing like they were expecting him to. He says, 'When we looked at the plans for his head he looked good, but when we came out of the oven he just looked retarded. I think it was well thought out. Honestly, I think Matt Damon is one of the better actors around. I think he's a pretty great actor. He's pretty talented. And for no real reason, he is retarded in this movie.'"
So now observations about the movie's wit and political savvy being half-baked can be taken literally, I guess. The movie feels like the work of people who came up with a terrific concept and then got overwhelmed by the practical difficulties in bringing it to the screen. But that suspicion only holds water if you assume the script was written on the fly, in the midst of all the technical wrangling and headaches about which Parker and Stone have complained publicly and often. What I'm left with, then, is to assume that they approached the whole movie with the kind of "whatever" attitude the Damon puppet anecdote implies (To what is Parker referring when he says "I think it was well thought out"?). That might explain the doughy, scattershot effectiveness of the humor, as well as the slacker's disdain for methodology that might inspire them to come up with a point of view about Matt Damon (or anything else in the movie) dictated by anything other than the temperature of their puppet master's kiln.
Good-bye, Team America! May your journey to the sewage processing plant, and then to the sea, be a swift one!