A parody of Gerry Anderson marionette shows (Thunderbirds, Joe 90), Jerry Bruckheimer action movies and the ’80s cartoon and toy line M.A.S.K. , Team America: World Police boils all those ingredients down to their essences, starting with the Kenny Logginsesque theme song (Americaaafuck yeah!). Every other line of dialogue deals with various permutations of cocks, pussies, shit and balls, and there’s graphic puppet-on-puppet violence as well. (Bless the Chiodo brothers, creators of Killer Klowns From Outer Space, for the amazing work they do with the marionettes.) The notorious puppet sex scene has been trimmed of scat and male-on-female oral, but everything short of that remains. And this stuff ain’t even the half of it.

The action begins in France. A little boy in a sailor suit singing “Frères Jacques” bumps into an Osama bin Laden look-alike carrying a suitcase nuke. The second this Arab terrorist appears, imitation Middle Eastern chanting fades in on the soundtrack. Then Team America shows up in star-spangled jumpsuits and takes out the bad guys, blowing up most of Paris in the process.

When Team America needs to infiltrate a terrorist group, it recruits Gary (voiced, like 80 percent of the characters in the movie, by Trey Parker), a Broadway actor first seen starring in a musical called Lease, singing a song with the refrain Everyone has AIDS … AIDS, AIDS, AIDS, AIDS, AIDS! Gary, allegedly the world’s greatest actor, will be surgically altered in order to infiltrate a Chechen cell based in Cairo. Ultimately, the trail will lead to North Korean despot Kim Jong-il (Parker again), who gets the film’s one true musical set piece with a number titled “I’m So Ronery.” (That’s lonely spoken with a stereotypical Asian accent.)

In a cinematic era in which so-called parody movies tend to simply stage by-the-numbers re-creations of scenes from familiar movies (David Zucker, Wayans brothers, Shrek: We’re looking at you), Parker gets kudos for remembering that the best parodies are the ones that lampoon clichés you didn’t even realize were clichés. From the hero’s hidden childhood trauma (Gary’s acting once led to the death of a family member in preposterous fashion) to the deadly earnest dialogue (“Sometimes believing is all we have”) and ridiculous top-secret acronyms (the team’s talking computer is called I.N.T.E.L.L.I.G.E.N.C.E.), no Bruckheimer staple is left unscorched. Bruckheimer fave Michael Bay gets singled out for particular scorn in a love song about how awful Pearl Harbor was (I need you like Ben Affleck needs acting school).

As with many episodes of South Park , Parker and collaborator Matt Stone have an amazing knack for finding middle ground on controversial issues. Here, they mock right-wing American machismo but also savage those on the left who take the side of the countries opposing America no matter what, represented onscreen by Alec Baldwin (voice credited to Maurice La Marche, though it was rumored at one point that Baldwin would play himself). The Baldwin parody is dead-on, though the depiction of Michael Moore is reduced to obvious fat jokes. (One wonders if Stone regrets being in Bowling for Columbine.)

Bottom line: It’s hilarious, vicious, offensive, thoroughly profane and a joy to watch. Be sure to sit through the end credits for a bonus song from Kim Jong-il to Alec Baldwin.


Categories: Movies