Trey Parker as Gary Johnston/Joe/Hans Blix/Kim Jong Il/others (voice)
Matt Stone as Chris/others (voice)
Kristen Miller as Lisa (voice)
Masasa as Sarah (voice)
Daran Norris as Spottswoode (voice)
Phil Hendrie as I.N.T.E.L.L.I.G.E.N.C.E. (voice)
Those wacky kids that created South Park go after world leaders, actors and the war on terror in a raucous send-up that once and for all solidifies an old stand-up comedy axiom vulgar puppets equal funny.
Team America is a five person (puppet) wrecking crew charged with keeping the US and the world safe from terrorists with weapons of mass destruction at all costs! When one of the team is felled by a terrorist just as new information is received about the coming of a huge terrorist strike, the team’s ‘Charlie’ – a tough-talking sophisticate named Spottswoode – seeks out a young actor to help foil the terrorists plans. The actor – Gary – must infiltrate the terrorist network and learn the details of their fiendish plan so that the team can stop them. Distracted by the task at hand, the team fails to learn of the true mastermind behind the terrorist activity – and the clueless horde of celebrity ilk that help him – until, perhaps, it is too late!
The songs. Man, the songs. Parker and Stone really know how it put together some funny tunes – as was acknowledged by the system a few years back when ‘Blame Canada’ from the South Park movie was nominated for an Academy Award. The songs in Team America are more along the vein of ‘Now You’re a Man’ from the duo’s less popular porn send-up Orgazmo. The main theme – America, F*#k Yeah! – is a fasted-paced rocker full of swagger. Other tunes – especially Kim Jong Il’s I’m Ronery and Montage – are just a riot.
The puppets. Now, these are very reminiscent of the old Thunderbird marionettes, but with modern twists. Seriously, about 20 minutes in, I forgot I was watching what amounts to a Jerry Bruckheimer puppet show. Their eyes, mouths and hair all function well and it is easy to forget you’re watching foam and string once the characters take over.
The lampoons. There are plenty of references to other films in Team America. From Star Wars to Die Hard and back again nothing is sacred. The real butt of many jokes in Team America center on the celebs themselves, most notably their penchant to get involved in politics – which most are simply unqualified to do. Sean Penn, Tim Robbins, Susan Sarandon, Helen Hunt, Alec Baldwin and others all get skewered by Parker and Stone. Baldwin actually has a pivotal role in the film – though the real Alec Baldwin has no role in the film.
What Didn’t Work:
The over-the-top humor in Team America falls a bit flat, but there are not many instances of this. There is one vomit scene that could have used some editing and the much ballyhooed puppet sex scene, while funny, will probably go on too long for some.
I noticed in the screening audience I saw the film with there were a number of young teenagers with their parents. Note to parents – don’t bring your 13-year old daughter to see Team America unless you either A) have taught them the ways of the world or B) want to teach them the ways of the world on the way out of the theater. This is not a kid’s movie. It is highly profane and fairly explicit even for puppets.
There is plenty I have not said about Team America in this review. I didn’t want to spoil some of the funnier plot points. If you’re looking for some mindless, adult fun, you could do worse that Team America. But if you go, be sure and stay through the credits to hear a song not in the film, but very important if you want to learn more about one of the film’s main characters!