Team America: World Police comes billed with all the usual controversy surround nearly anything done by Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the crafty creators of the hit show South Park. From cuts being made to the film involving excessive puppet sex to maintain a R rating to intense allegations that the film mocks the current War on Terrorism, we the public have received quite the pre-release blitz about this movie. Perhaps that is why Paramount decided to release the film on a sneak preview basis six days early in about 800 theaters nationwide.
I will say right now that Team America: World Police is one of the funniest films of the year, and perhaps one of the funniest films I have ever seen. Perhaps it is the state of the world right now that would influence such a film, or perhaps it is that the humor is so “wrong” in so many different ways. Or maybe it was just those darn marionette puppets. Or maybe it was just everything.
Brad is a popular musical actor, with his current project, Lease (a take on rent *rimshot*), garnering him the attention most actors dream for. He sees it as a step in the right direction for his career, but Team America sees him as the perfect man to go undercover in the Middle East and perform a recon mission to assist in the gathering of information about possible terrorist threats.
You see, Team America protects the world from terrorists – no matter what it takes. They’ll kill civilians and destroy landmarks all in the name of defeating terrorists, as is demonstrated in the film’s opening sequence.
The basic premise of the film involves Kim Jong Il’s plan to stage a peace conference to get world leaders and celebrities (more on that later) in one place, then use his advanced terror system to destroy cities worldwide. Team America to the rescue!
The plot is simply a placeholder for jokes that will offend basically anyone. Stabs are taken at Americans, Europeans, African Americans, South Americans, Koreans, gays, and basically everyone else on planet Earth. A scene involving Il and Hans Blix is particularly hilarious.
As we all know by now, Team America: World Police was filmed entirely with marionette puppets with very visible strings, which adds to the comedic effect. Everyone involved did a fantastic job with these, and the facial expressions really are incredible. Even the amateur viewer will pick up on the obvious mistakes made, but left in the film by Parker and Stone. Great stuff.
What hasn’t been made as public as the terrorism talk is the true inspiration for the movie: Jerry Bruckheimer and Michael Bay films. You know the ones…Pearl Harbor, Armageddon, Top Gun, etc. The action unfolds in virtually the same manner, with mass chaos one instant and a tender love moment the next. The action scenes are suitably over the top.
Now onto the celebrities, which is truly what makes Team America: World Police click. Virtually everyday we hear about a celebrity mouthing off to cameras about the state of the United States and parts of the world. Personally, they annoy the hell out of me, and Parker and Stone concocted some of the funniest material I have seen in a long time based on these celebrities. From Janeane Garofalo to Tim Robbins to Alec Baldwin, no one goes unscathed. The climactic scene involving Team America and the celebrities is one for the books, and literally had me doubled over.
The voicings are equally entertaining, with Kim Jong Il given the funniest likeness. He sounds eerily like Eric Cartman from South Park, and I have a good feeling that was intentional. Stereotypes are used to the fullest extent, and even these voicings could offend some. I love it!
Team America: World Police is the kind of movie where you go in knowing what to expect, but, like many episodes of South Park, the movie finds clever angles with which to work. Parker and Stone do not let down. The only spots where the film didn’t pick up huge laughs were when it got serious in a realistic way, but this did not happen often. When it did, however, I found myself thinking…until the next laugh.
One last thing I should note is that nowhere in the film does it mention George W. Bush, John Kerry, or any other U.S. political leader. The film is a parody of the current state of the world, and there are equal slams on the left, right, and everything in between.
I cannot recommend Team America: World Police enough. Surprises are in store, as well as literally laughs a minute. This is the perfect film to lighten the mood, at least temporarily, before one of the most important elections of all time.
Studio: Paramount Pictures
Length: 98 Minutes
Rating: R for graphic, crude & sexual humor, violent images & strong language; all involving puppets.
Theatrical Release: October 15, 2004
Directed by: Trey Parker
Written by: Trey Parker & Matt Stone & Pam Brady.
Cast: Trey Parker, Matt Stone, Paul Louis, Kristen Miller, Dian Bachar, Josiah D. Lee