Team America: World Police

Trey Parker and Matt Stone, those wacky South Park guys are at it again with Team America: World Police. This time, instead of crude animation, they use puppets to get all of their outrageous points across. Team America is an equal opportunity offender that uses puppets to show how dumb some of the arguments on both sides are when taken to the extreme. However, there is one huge difference between Team America, and the duo's last outing, South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut; Team America is not that funny. There definitely is something surreal about watching puppets kill each other, have sex, and curse, but the jokes here descent into vulgarity and coarseness even quicker than they did in South Park, and a lot of the wit is missing. Remember, these are the guys who depicted Saddam Hussein and Satan as gay lovers.

Team America also contains the much-ballyhooed puppet sex scene that garnered it an initial NC-17 from the MPAA, even though the puppets were anatomically incorrect and similar scenes were shown in other movies with real actors. The scene is cut here, but is still riotously funny because it is so bizarre. If anything, this again proves how far out of touch the MPAA is from reality. The rest of Team America is nowhere near as funny. It approaches boring for many stretches, before Parker and Stone (Orgazmo) throw something else at audiences to gasp at. The premise is that Team America protects the world from terrorists. When one of their members die, their leader enlists the help of Gary Johnston, an actor, to complete the team. After all, without an actor to fool the terrorists, Team America would fail.

North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il is devising a plot to take over the world, and only Team America can stop him. However, there is the typical infighting amongst team members, and nobody knows that Kim is the real mastermind. Parker and Stone supply almost all of the voices, and have their puppets do outrageous things like blow up the Eiffel Tower, stab, shoot, and main each other in as many ways as possible, and skewers a host of celebrities including Michael Moore, Matt Damon, and Tim Robbins. Again, there are some extremely amusing songs, but the story remains extremely underdeveloped, even more so than one would expect from these guys (they share screenwriting credit with Pam Brady, South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut). Team America feels like an idea that they did not fully flesh out. Instead, they have a little bit of everything thrown together, hoping that it sticks. Being disgusting just to be disgusting is overdone and dull. They need some thought behind their gross-out antics, or else everything becomes dull, as it does here.

However, watching these puppets is amazing. The level of detail that Parker, Stone, and crew went through to make this movie was incredible. Some scenes have over a dozen moving puppets, and the detail in the sets is painstaking. There are puppets in moving vehicles, the aforementioned puppet sex, dancing, fighting, and drinking. They make no effort to hide the strings, which at some points makes thing even funnier. They make no effort to simulate foreign languages, opting instead for simple phrases repeated over and over. Many of the jokes miss their mark, which is expected given the number that fly across the screen, and many are fairly mean-spirited and juvenile.

Haro Rates It: Okay.
1 hour, 45 minutes, Rated R for graphic, crude and sexual humor, violent images and strong language, all involving puppets

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