Team America: World Police


Rated R , for graphic crude and sexual behavior, violent images and strong language — all involving puppets

What more do you need to know? “Team America: World Police” might be the most oddball concoction to ever grace thousands of movie screens. Who knew Jerry Bruckheimer flicks, marionettes and the War on Terror could combine into such a great film?

There are no words to describe the feeling of watching all the clichés and stereotypes of the last 20 years’ action blockbusters being performed by puppets on strings, and the way all this mirrors the current American foreign policy and the threats the world faces makes for an incredible mix of relevance and utter absurdity.

You got to give it to Trey Parker, he knows how to blend genres to hilarious effect. From the song-and-dance gore of Cannibal: the Musical to the Mormon super-hero porn stars of Orgazmo by the way of 8 seasons and counting of “South Park”. Parker and long-time collaborator Matt Stone have brilliantly juggled sharp satire and lowbrow humor.

Team America is an elite unit of super-agents based in the core of Mount Rushmore who go around the world to blow up terrorists. Oh, they might destroy a chunk of the world themselves while trying to keep it safe, but “freedom isn’t free”! The team consists of Joe, “the all-star quarterback from the University of Nebraska, a natural born leader”, Lisa, “a top Princeton psychology major who specializes in how terrorists think”, Chris, “the top martial arts expert Detroit has to offer” and Sarah, the “top empath from Berkeley’s school for the clairvoyant”. Early into the movie, Team America’s man-with-the-plan Spottswoode recruits a new agent, Broadway star Gary Johnston. His acting abilities will be needed in order to infiltrate terrorist ranks and find out what they plan for their next big attack, which is being described as “9/11 times a thousand!”

The film follows the structure and tone of movies like Top Gun and Armageddon to the letter. It’s in the characters (the maverick new guy, the old pro who doesn’t trust him, etc.), the cheesy romantic subplots (including hardcore puppet sex!), the ridiculously over the top action sequences… Even the camera moves and the pompous score are straight out of the Michael Bay school of bombast.

While the movie often just plays action movie clichés straight and that’s funny enough (especially with all the characters being puppets!), it also features all the things that made South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut such outrageous fun: endlessly foul-mouthed dialogue, catchy musical numbers and shameless celebrity bashing. I don’t share Parker and Stone’s frustration with Michael Moore and Hollywood stars who express their politics, but you have to laugh when you see puppets with the likenesses of Alec Baldwin, Sean Penn or Susan Sarandon being blown to pieces!

“Team America: World Police” is the most embarrassingly entertaining movie I’ve seen all year. I already enjoy big dumb action flicks in all their ludicrous glory, so to have their “America! Fuck Yeah!” subtext taken to the extreme is priceless.