Written by Pam Brady, Trey Parker, Matt Stone
Directed by Trey Parker
Running Time: 1:37
for graphic, crude & sexual humor
violent images & strong language;
all involving puppets.
Summing up Team America: World Police is easy enough... just look at the rating, realize it's from the guys that make South Park, and pay close attention to that last line: "all involving puppets." If this movie doesn't make you laugh, you have no humor in your soul.
A group of well trained Americans patrol the world looking for terrorists. When one of their own dies, they recruit a new actor named Gary to infiltrate a terrorist organization to figure out when the next big attack will be. The action takes you from Paris to Cairo to the Panama Canal to Mount Rushmore before they find out that North Korean leader Kim Jong Il is behind the madness. Can Team America come to the rescue before Il destroys the world? Will Alec Baldwin help Team America or has he joined the terrorists himself? And what does it look like when two marionettes have sex?
It's hard not to laugh when watching Team America: World Police. The movie is a complete send up of 80s Bruckheimer action films, while at the same time a serious social/political satire. The best thing is that the movie doesn't take sides; it skewers both the left and the right equally. Whatever side of the political aisle you're on, you'll find something that you'll enjoy. I got the impression that Trey Parker and Matt Stone wanted to make a movie where they could take shots at everyone in Hollywood, but realized that they couldn't do it in a live-action setting, and they had already done traditional animation, so they figured, let's go the puppet route. That way, we can do whatever we want, say whatever we want, and people will laugh because it's a puppet doing it. Whether it's a take off of the musical Rent, called Lease, where the main song includes the lyrics 'Everyone has AIDS', or riffing on 80s hair metal theme songs with a song called 'America F*** Yeah', Parker and Stone completely take the action genre to another level.
It's strange to write about this like it's a real movie, because they're all puppets. You can see the strings, and they have a hard time walking, but it works because it's so well written, and the puppets can do some impressive things. The eyes for instance are very creepy because they look extremely authentic. The locations are all amazingly done, even if they smush all of the iconic Parisian landmarks into one small area (all the easier to destroy I suppose.) And while they puppets have a hard time walking, they can do everything else fairly well. This includes the infamous sex scene, which reportedly got the movie an NC-17 rating before it was re-cut close to 20 times. And boy do these puppets go at it. That one scene will having you rolling in the aisles.
The story was your standard action fare, with a group of well groomed white Americans chasing after terrorists all over the world. But the way they went about doing it was a shot at the Bush administration and current climate of going into a country, completely destroying it without regard for the citizens, and believing the world owes us a thank you. Right now we're doing that in the Middle East, but Parker and Stone take it a step further and ask, what if we did it in France? What if in this hunt for terrorists, we went into Paris and brought down the Eiffel Tower and then expected the French to appreciate our efforts? At the same time, a large plot element involves showing up actors and how important they feel their opinion is. With Alec Baldwin playing the leader of the Film Actors Guild (or F.A.G. as the movie lovingly refers to the group), they feel like their opinions should override those of others, so Alec, along with Sean Penn, Tim Robbins, Susan Sarandon and others, decide to team up with Kim Jong Il and host a summit of world leaders. Not realizing that Il wants them all in the same place so he can destroy all of their countries at the same time. Actors are people just like you and me, and their opinions, while certainly valid, should in no way be more important than anyone else's. Just because they have a larger stage does not give them any power and while I might agree with some of them, sometimes I wish they'd just shut up, and I think that's the point Parker and Stone are trying to make.
The movie wasn't all fun and laughs. As in most movies, there were some down times where it got boring and sappy, but for the most part, it was funny. But I imagine that a lot of people aren't going to like this kind of humor, so I warn people that if you're looking for just a fun, non-threatening time at the movies, you might want to pass on this one. There more were than a few instances where people could easily be offended. Political correctness isn't in the dictionary of Parker and Stone, which is to be expected from the guys that bring you South Park. But easily the best parts of the movie were the musical sequences. Whether it was the aforementioned "America F*** Yeah" (both in rock and love song versions) or the hilarious montage song appropriately called "Montage" or my favorite, Kim Jong Il singing "Lonely" the one thing Parker and Stone have proved over and over again is they can write songs that fit right in with the film and make a point. In fact, as soon as it comes out, I'm getting the soundtrack for myself, because it's easily the best soundtrack I've heard in years.
THE BOTTOM LINE
So overall, I thought Team America: World Police was a pretty funny film with a lot of strong comedy and political skewering. It's not a film for everyone, but it's worth a look.