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"Team America: World Police" Movie Review

The "South Park" Guys String Us Along

By

Team America World Police

A scene from "Team America: World Police"

© Paramount Pictures
If this is the edited down version, I can’t wait to see the one that got slapped with an NC-17 rating. “Team America: World Police” is not for the easily offended, anyone who believes terrorism should never be the subject of a joke, people who get freaked out watching plastic actors with their strings visible (most of Hollywood's real plastic actors are pretty good at concealing their strings), any member of the ‘politically correct’ police, people who can’t stand the frequent use of the f-word, and those who can’t handle puppet porn. “Team America” has definitely earned its R rating. This movie may feature cute little marionettes, but it’s absolutely not meant for kids.

No subject is sacred in this Matt Stone/Trey Parker comedy. Famous Hollywood stars get butchered (at least their puppet personas do). The Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, a few pyramids, and the Sphinx bite the dust as Team America hunts down terrorists. So what if there’s a fair amount of innocent puppets cut down in the line of fire? And who cares if some of the greatest treasures on this planet are destroyed? Team America is on a mission to rid the world of terrorism and keep it safe for people/puppets everywhere. The world may hate them, but they don’t care. To steal a phrase, nothing will stand in the way of truth, justice, and the Team America way.

The film begins with our heroes battling it out with terrorists in France. We know they’re terrorists because they are wearing turbans and carrying briefcases. Shooting up the streets and indiscriminately destroying the city, the members of Team America seem to think collateral damage doesn’t matter. In fact, they’re so totally oblivious to all the destruction they’ve caused that Carson decides it’s the perfect moment to propose to Lisa. Lisa, with a look of devotion in her little puppet eyes says yes, just as a dying terrorist pumps Carson full of lead. That’ll teach him to sidestep the romantic candlelight dinner.

Down one team member, their fearless leader Spottswoode recruits the best actor on the planet, Gary Johnston. Gary’s appearing in “Lease: The Musical” in which his show-stopping number is entitled “Everyone Has AIDS,” but it’s his double major of acting and international languages that make Gary the only man who can stop the terrorists from using WMDs. Seriously. In Stone/Parker’s sick and twisted story, an actor will save the planet. That’s almost a more disturbing image than the puppet porn.

Speaking of the puppet porn, I’d like to have listened in as Stone and Parker gave the guys who worked the marionettes’ strings their directions. Even though these are totally sexless puppets, their romp in the bedroom is strangely unnerving. I’m still a little weirded-out from watching it.

Some actors are going to hate this movie (in particular Alec Baldwin, Sean Penn, Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon who are skewered in this comedy along with filmmaker Michael Moore) and anti-war groups should absolutely despise this film. It’s pretty much going to piss off a large part of Hollywood, but Trey Parker and Matt Stone must not really care. After all, “South Park” isn’t exactly celebrity-friendly.

As with “South Park” – both the TV series and the feature film – the songs in “Team America: World Police” are raunchy and often hilarious. There’s a really bizarre song that features lyrics comparing how terrible Michael Bay’s “Pearl Harbor” was and how bad an actor Ben Affleck is to how much Gary misses Lisa. The film’s main villain, Kim Jong II of North Korea, sings a little ditty about how lonely he is, scenes of Gary getting pumped up by visiting American landmarks are backed by a patriotic country/western song, and of course, there’s Gary’s “Everyone Has AIDS” Broadway number. They make you laugh, even while you’re flinching inside for laughing at things that have no right being funny.

The best scenes involve the marionettes fighting. The little puppets go at it in real time but it looks like slow-motion. Watching them duke it out is almost worth the price of admission. There’s also bad action movie dialogue, lots of inside jokes that pay homage to other films, and even a love triangle that rears its ugly head during the middle of a dogfight in the sky between Team America and the terrorists.

“Team America” has moments of sheer brilliance. Unfortunately, those moments are surrounded by scenes that feel like filler material or recycled “South Park” episodes with terrorists in place of the gang's classmates. And this movie is definitely not for everyone. If you’re a “South Park” fan, you’ll probably pay to see this one twice. But gauging how an average, non-Trey Parker/Matt Stone fan will react to this is impossible to predict. I liked it but I have a twisted sense of humor, which is a necessity to sit through this movie.

GRADE: B-/C+

"Team America: World Police" was directed by Trey Parker and is rated R for graphic, crude and sexual humor, violent images and strong language - all involving puppets.

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