Dude, where’s my puppet?

I finally broke through the blockage in my Netflix queue and watched the two movies that I’ve had for over a month now: Dude, Where’s My Car? and Team America: World Police. Considering the Netflix fees and how long I had them out, I figure they cost me about $12 each.

Which makes me a lot less charitable of them than I probably would be normally. Both were in the “no really, they’re better than they look” category, based on what I’d heard from reviewers and friends. So I had low expectations but was willing to be pleasantly surprised. I wasn’t.

Dude, Where’s My Car? I moved up in the queue because it has Jennifer Garner in it, but she’s no reason to see it, even if you’re not already bored with “Alias.” I’m fine with stoner movies; in fact, I liked Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle and I actually bought Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. But I thought the whole point of stoner movies was to make something that you react to basically like you would to a stoner person — they’re harmless and mildly entertaining normally, and really hilarious if you’re high. Considering that this one wasn’t harmless and mildly entertaining when I saw it, I’m not all that inclined to try it again the second way. I’d been expecting it to be gleefully absurd and dumb, but it was just dumb and kind of sad.

And I say we all start a fund, where we each contribute $1 a month, and all the money goes to Andy Dick. The stipulation is that he can never work again.

Team America was just bullshit. It seems like they’re just not aware they’ve obsoleted themselves. They’re stuck in the same thing that was subversive back when they did the first “South Park” short, even though the rest of us have all moved on. (And we moved on partly because “South Park” is so ubiquitous).

Violently cutting up puppets and making them have sex and make dick jokes just isn’t at all subversive anymore. And Parker and Stone just aren’t all that subversive anymore — they make the big joke about pretentious Hollywood needing to be put in its place, without seeming to realize that they’re pretentious Hollywood now. Yeah, there are plenty of pompous blowhards who have no business sticking their noses and money into politics, but at least they’re saying something. It’s easy just to say nothing more than “you’re stupid!”

The only reason I didn’t completely dismiss it is the same reason I can’t completely dismiss “South Park.” When they drop the BS about being adolescent and edgy and just let themselves get absurd, they’re actually funny. There were occasional bits in Team America that are funny just for the sake of being funny, because the characters are puppets. Like the panther attack that’s actually just a couple of house cats with sound effects. And the special emergency signal Gary has to make when he’s undercover. And any of the fist-fight scenes where it’s just two puppets flailing at each other.

They should just learn to drop the pretense of how they’re not pretentious, and just make something funny. Every once in a while, “South Park” manages to actually have a message that makes sense, and while those aren’t the episodes that sell T-shirts and catch phrases, those are the ones that actually work.