Team America: World Police

This movie, the latest product of South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone, is vulgar, juvenile, crude, offensive, and sometimes repulsive. And I loved it.

If gutter language, marionettes engaging in explicit sex acts, ethnic stereotypes, over—the—top violence, and mockery of important world figures such as Alec Baldwin and Kim Jong—il offend you, do not even consider attending a showing of this film. But if you can tolerate adolescent sex humor, and enjoy seeing the envelope not just pushed, but ripped into tiny scraps and then thrown into the air as confetti, then you, too, will be wiping tears of laughter from your eyes, as absurdity compounds absurdity, and anarchic humor reigns supreme.

I can guarantee you that you have never seen another movie remotely like this one. Inspired by the 1960s television series Thunderbirds, an all—marionette adventure series about an emergency response agency, Team America is an exuberant middle finger of ridicule stuck in the eye of those who deride America as the land of the cowboy, Hollywood leftists, AIDS—obsessed New York theatre people, Arab terrorists, and the French. Among others.

The visual look of the film is quite remarkable. Tremendous care went into the design of the sets, some of which, like the Hollywood headquarters of the 'Film Actors Guild' or Times Square, are quite witty, and flash by so fast that the viewer cannot take in all the throwaway jokes. Visual consultant David Rockwell, production designer Jim Dultz, puppet designer Norman Tempia, costume designer Karen Patch, and many other behind—the scenes technical folks, especially cinematographer Bill Pope, have all outdone themselves. Movies have the capacity to transport viewers to an alternate universe, a dream—state where an alternative reality reigns. This film does so in spades.

Many other films are visually quoted, from Star Wars to Kill Bill, and the Oscar award ceremony format is hilariously parodied, as it would be staged in North Korea by Kim Jong—il. Team America also slyly parodies itself, reminding viewers that these are puppet figures, after all, as, for instance, kittens are used in place of panthers when some marionette characters are put in peril in Kim Jong—il's private zoo. 

As with other Parker—Stone productions, there are some outrageously funny songs as well. I cannot even print the title of the film's prideful anthem extolling America, but it is memorable.

I will be very interested in seeing how this film does at the box office. The opening day audience at the suburban Cineplex where I saw laughed enthusiastically, and afterward people could be overheard saying that they would tell their friends to see it.

Despite being played by marionettes, this film is NOT for children. Nor is it for anyone faintly prudish. There were moments when I was uncomfortable. But I went in prepared to grant the creators as much slack as necessary, and the investment in outrage—suppression was more than repaid by a memorably funny and visually compelling experience.

This movie, the latest product of South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone, is vulgar, juvenile, crude, offensive, and sometimes repulsive. And I loved it.

If gutter language, marionettes engaging in explicit sex acts, ethnic stereotypes, over—the—top violence, and mockery of important world figures such as Alec Baldwin and Kim Jong—il offend you, do not even consider attending a showing of this film. But if you can tolerate adolescent sex humor, and enjoy seeing the envelope not just pushed, but ripped into tiny scraps and then thrown into the air as confetti, then you, too, will be wiping tears of laughter from your eyes, as absurdity compounds absurdity, and anarchic humor reigns supreme.

I can guarantee you that you have never seen another movie remotely like this one. Inspired by the 1960s television series Thunderbirds, an all—marionette adventure series about an emergency response agency, Team America is an exuberant middle finger of ridicule stuck in the eye of those who deride America as the land of the cowboy, Hollywood leftists, AIDS—obsessed New York theatre people, Arab terrorists, and the French. Among others.

The visual look of the film is quite remarkable. Tremendous care went into the design of the sets, some of which, like the Hollywood headquarters of the 'Film Actors Guild' or Times Square, are quite witty, and flash by so fast that the viewer cannot take in all the throwaway jokes. Visual consultant David Rockwell, production designer Jim Dultz, puppet designer Norman Tempia, costume designer Karen Patch, and many other behind—the scenes technical folks, especially cinematographer Bill Pope, have all outdone themselves. Movies have the capacity to transport viewers to an alternate universe, a dream—state where an alternative reality reigns. This film does so in spades.

Many other films are visually quoted, from Star Wars to Kill Bill, and the Oscar award ceremony format is hilariously parodied, as it would be staged in North Korea by Kim Jong—il. Team America also slyly parodies itself, reminding viewers that these are puppet figures, after all, as, for instance, kittens are used in place of panthers when some marionette characters are put in peril in Kim Jong—il's private zoo. 

As with other Parker—Stone productions, there are some outrageously funny songs as well. I cannot even print the title of the film's prideful anthem extolling America, but it is memorable.

I will be very interested in seeing how this film does at the box office. The opening day audience at the suburban Cineplex where I saw laughed enthusiastically, and afterward people could be overheard saying that they would tell their friends to see it.

Despite being played by marionettes, this film is NOT for children. Nor is it for anyone faintly prudish. There were moments when I was uncomfortable. But I went in prepared to grant the creators as much slack as necessary, and the investment in outrage—suppression was more than repaid by a memorably funny and visually compelling experience.