Team America: World Police

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Puppet Porn

Oct 31, 2004 (Updated Oct 31, 2004)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:imaginative, and sometimes very funny, particularly the sex scene involving puppets and the big speech

Cons:lame premise, extreme language, misguided ideas about what makes for a good comedy, puppet fellatio

The Bottom Line: Not for everyone. Skews toward older teens and twenty-somethings. Extremely crude. Uneven.


I saw Team America: World Police the day it came out. It has taken me this long to come to terms with that experience.

Team America is an experience as polarizing, and flawed, as a Bush policy meeting. It's as funny as watching Kerry try to hypnotize an audience. It's also as pornographic as any film in recent memory.

Matt Stone and Trey Parker, of South Park fame, had what might well be described as a brain f@rt, a dubious epiphany that the world was ready for an action spoof starring 22-inch puppets.

In this, they were grossly mistaken.

Puppets, by themselves, are not nearly as funny as Stone and Parker imagined they'd be. Unlike the crude in-your-face cut-out cartoon characters of South Park, these puppets are state-of-the-art, with a range of facial expression that would make Walt Disney blow his brains out - especially when comparing them to the Country Bear Jamboree.

Ironically, the Country Bear Jamboree would have been funnier - not their lame a-- jokes and Hallmark dialogue - but the very crudeness of their sixties-era Chuck E. Cheese animatronics. In the world of puppet expression, Country Bear and Chuck E. Cheese are closer to South Park than Team America.

And that is what drains this project of much of its energy.

What is supposed to be a high spoof of the action genre is only half a step below it in realism. Kim Il Jong's "I'm so ronery" aside, the range of these puppets is actually equal to or better than that of any action star I've ever seen - from Sylvester Stallone, to Bruce Willis, to Vin Diesel.

To make up for the lack of comic momentum, Team America throws in raunch, the rawer the better. Almost always, that's what puts the edge in what is otherwise a toothless journey. The funniest scenes in this film are not the parodies of puppets acting like action heroes, but the raw sewage that comes flying out of their animatronic mouths.

My two favorite scenes were the puppet sex scene (advanced puppet porn) and the great speech at the end, where America's role (why the world loves and hates us) was explained by means of a metaphor involving humankind's three most famous genitalia.

Those two scenes will burn in my memory long after I've forgotten the plot, which involves the recruitment of an actor to play the part of a terrorist, so that he can infiltrate the world of terrorists who threaten America. In the process, every action cliche gets skewered, but to little effect. Action cliches, exposed as such, are not very funny - nor are puppet spoofs. What's funny is the audacity of these puppets, whose vocabulary would make a sailor blush.

Team America's best moments are funny, if you'll at least accept the fact that a scene can be funny even if the film's overall premise is a mistake. Unfortunately, the dynamics of this film are such that it's highest highs are balanced by some of the lowest lows - which includes a recruitment test involving fellatio.

In a kind of in-your-face way, Team America is very funny - or at least has moments that are arguably such. It is also a raunchy production whose thrills must be followed up with a trip to the confessional and a long, hot shower.


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