Review: Team America

Nancy Derby

With the greatest philosophy on foreign policy ever, a three-minute puppet sex scene that almost got an NC-17 rating (thank you, MPAA), a soundtrack that would put Toby Keith to shame, and plenty of celebrity cameos, Team America: World Police is exactly what this country needs right now: a movie that realizes the left is as ridiculous, self-righteous, conformist, and misguided as any smirking monkey whose vocabulary doubled recently by learning the words “litmus test.”

You may not be a fan of Matt Stone and Trey Parker’s brand of potty humor, but mixed with on-point political commentary it’s actually funny. Lured to the theater by free tickets (I love my job) and never having been that amused by South Park, I wasn’t expecting much. It takes a few minutes of overzealous American do-gooders blowing up the Louvre, Sphinx, and Eiffel Tower without thinking twice before the audience realizes it’s okay to laugh when all the terrorists say is “durk durk jihad rama-damala.” Classic scenes include a mustard-covered, dynamite-carrying Michael Moore blowing up Mt. Rushmore (possibly not what Moore had in mind when interviewing Parker for Bowling for Columbine, although Moore fans would hope he has the sense to enjoy a good joke at his expense) and Kim Jong Il’s Engrish solo song.

Not to be overlooked, since this is a movie made entirely of puppets and reproductions of Paris, Cairo, North Korea, New York, Washington D.C. and others in one-third scale (a sizing that allowed expendability of sets as most of them were blown to smithereens) is the cast of designers and puppeteers. In trying to “create a unique and unexpected visual language for their film,” Parker and Stone recruited world-renowned architect David Rockwell (designer of Mohegan Sun Casino, Broadways’ Hairspray and Rocky Horror Picture Show), puppet designer Norman Tempia (Labyrinth, Fraggle Rock, Sesame Street), production designer Jim Dultz (Jim Henson Company, What Dreams May Come), cinematographer Bill Pope (Matrix, Spiderman 2), costume designer Karen Patch (The Royal Tenenbaums, Rushmore, The School of Rock), puppet producers Chiodo Brothers (Killer Klowns from Outerspace, Pee Wee’s Big Adventure, Gremlins, Critters 1-4), special effects guy Joe Viskocil (Armageddon, Terminator 1-2, Godzilla, Apollo 13, Interview with a Vampire-he set Tom Cruise on fire, Batman Returns, Ghostbusters, The Empire Strikes Back, and Academy Award winner for his work on Independence Day), and dozens of others to ensure believability in all scenes.

What premise could harbor all this mayhem, humor, and artistry you ask? Well, without giving the entire movie away, Team America, like any good Christians, is trying to save the world from itself. To achieve their goal they recruit Broadway star Gary Johnston who must act his way into the terrorist network and reveal its evil scheme. This task proves too easy until the Film Actor’s Guild (F.A.G) throws a monkey wrench into the whole thing and…well you’ll have to watch the movie for yourself if you want to know anymore.

No satire would be complete without it’s two cents on Hollywood. Unless you’ve been living on a vegan-nudist-socialist-whatever commune for the last four years, you’re at least slightly annoyed with the entertainment elite and their advice to the illiterate masses most desperately seeking their guidance (and by illiterate I of course mean “not earning $14 million per film and therefore pitiful”). If you’ve ever wondered if Matt Damon, Liv Tyler, Samuel L. Jackons, or *gasp* Alec Baldwin, “the greatest actor of all time” (I told you this movie was funny), come across as more or less obnoxious as wooden talking heads held up by strings, as opposed to the flesh and bone variety supported by…silicon and ego, then this movie is for you. “If we are to live in a more peaceful society everyone should drive hybrid electric cars,” Tim Robbins informs America as he and fellow F.A.G.s take over the United Nations.

So, if you are looking for a movie that will awe you with its lowbrow humor/satirical savvy, ingenious creations/destructions, and ample puppet sex, then Team America: World Police is the movie for you. Boy, is this the movie for you.