A review of “Team America: World Police” by Jeanne Aufmuth

 

Stars: ***

Rating: R (but toeing the line of NC-17) for puppet violence, crude language, and graphic puppet sex

Run Time: 1 hour, 35 minutes

 

 

Marionettes on the war path to put an end to global terrorism?  Only from the fertile minds of South Park’s Trey Parker and Matt Stone, who infuse their graphic comedy with some of the year’s most original and outlandish material.

Team America’s World Police are a group of ragtag heroes with domination on the brain.  Pitted against an Al-Qaeda terrorist group in Paris, the WP shoot to kill, taking out the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre’s beloved Pyramide in the process.  Oops.

The world at large takes an uneasy stance against WP’s tactics, but they fight on undeterred, determined to wipe terrorism from the face of the earth.  Head honcho Mr. Spottswoode (voice of Daran Norris) recruits Gary Johnston (Trey Parker), a top gun actor currently bringing down the house in the Broadway musical “Lease”, to go undercover in Durkadurkastan and expose the malevolent plot-of-the-moment.

Gary is reluctant to undergo the necessary transformation to faux-Middle Eastern terrorist, but his maverick renegade ways (and the shapely curves of persuasive team member Lisa) give him pause.

While designing their ambitious mission the team encounters a number of awkward hurdles, most notably a suspicious alliance between North Korea’s wicked Kim Jong Il (Parker again) and the angry celebrity members of F.A.G. (Film Actor’s Guild) who are joining forces at a Global Peace Conference to allegedly put a stop to the WP’s reckless disregard of engagement propriety by means of unnecessary violence.

The mission goes badly awry, resulting in typical Team America miscues and a large number of civilian casualties.  Back at the base for debriefing and cocktails, wounds are licked and flirtations formed and consummated.  Gary and Lisa get it on in a lusty lascivious puppet show that is worth the price of admission on its own. Positions only a yogi could love!

At the risk of sounding like a cynic, it’s a relief to be offered the opportunity to laugh at terrorism.  Stone and Parker stick it to evil nations with a politically incorrect vengeance, poking fun at foreign languages (“Durka durka sherpa sherpa”), exaggerated appearances, and gross racial stereotypes.  The marionettes themselves are a hoot, their novel appearance made all the more amusing by wink-and-nudge references to their flexile limitations.

The joke wears thin in the third act, replete with repetitious dialogue and plot constraints. Stone and Parker’s implacable positions on contemporary political issues are blithely whitewashed with heavy-handed gore and hardy-har ballads poking fun at Pearl Harbor, Ben Affleck, and the power of love.

Nevertheless a shout out to the bad boys of comedy for a film that’s lewd and crude and brimming with attitude.