'Bye, Thunderbirds: Bigger, longer, and cut
Two words from one of the songs in Team America: World Police will serve as a review too: "F*** yeah!"
As a fan of Trey Parker and Matt Stone even before South Park, I was predisposed to love their latest movie, but I didn't know I'd love it this much.
A politically incorrect satire that rips both hawks and doves, it's also a libelously scathing attack on Hollywood and its icons that does unspeakable and unimaginable things with and to marionettes.
The principal threat to world peace is North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, but he's aided and abetted by Hollywood's liberal contingent– and this movie's not afraid to name names– all members of the Film Actors Guild. Yes, that's F.A.G. for short.
That doesn't mean the title troop is completely blameless. In the course of protecting the world, they blithely display cultural insensitivity and destroy landmarks. After they knock over the Eiffel Tower and level the Louvre, they tell the French people, "Everything is bon. We stopped the terrorists."
Team America: World Police was inspired, at least in part, by the old Thunderbirds TV series, which is homaged in some incredibly cheesy moments. But most of the puppetry is amazing. The characters, who go where no marionette has gone before, are less wooden than the actors in some live-action films I could name– and some Team America does name. One love song says, "I need you like Ben Affleck needs acting school... Pearl Harbor sucked, and I miss you."
The biggest laughs in the first 15 minutes of the movie involve deaths from terrorism and AIDS. If you make it through that, you can probably handle the rest.
The AIDS reference comes in a song, "Everyone Is Dead from AIDS," from the Broadway musical Lease, which stars Gary Johnston (voiced by Trey Parker). After one performance, he's recruited by Spottswoode to join Team America. With his double major in Theater and World Languages, he's just what they need to infiltrate a terrorist organization.
Both women on the team, Lisa and Sarah, fall for Gary. Chris (voiced by Matt Stone) distrusts him because of a longstanding distrust of actors in general. But Joe, who harbors a crush on Sarah, is everybody's buddy. (And they make fun of Pearl Harbor?)
Team America: World Police was originally rated NC-17 because of a sex scene– yes, between marionettes (you'll never think of a woody the same way again). It's been trimmed for an R but still involves most of the positions in the Kama Sutra. At least they can't call this movie "uncut."
You have to have a serious sense of humor to appreciate Team America: World Police. If you put politics first, whichever side you're on, you should hate it.
This is a movie Michael Moore and George W. Bush could watch together (now there's a picture!) and both despise. In that sense, it's a uniter, not a divider.