Marionettes make a dynamic Team

Oct. 19, 2004, midnight | By Anuja Shah | 15 years, 3 months ago

Be forewarned: Team America: World Police is the brainchild of Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the creators of South Park . For those easily offended by, well, offensive humor, stay away. Suffice it to say, this movie's probably suited to an audience with a taste for a certain breed of funny.

This is not a movie over which you bond with your parents. This is not a sensitive date movie. This is not a movie that helps to foster basic human relationships of any kind because, let's face it, some people just can't muster cheerfulness while watching an all-marionette cast engage in lewd, disturbing and violent acts involving blood, among other bodily fluids.

Then again, that can be funny.

Sound like a waste of brain cells? Well, wonder of wonders, Team also has a plot , and what a plot it is. Centered around the fictional (you mean they're not real?) terrorist-killing, peace-shattering police force known as Team America, the storyline dually follows Gary Johnston (voiced by Trey Parker), a hot-shot Broadway actor. Gary's theatrical talent catches the eye of the Team's recruiter (voiced by Doran Norris), who is eager to have Gary sign on (and he does) as an undercover spy on terrorists. After rocky relationships lead to Gary quitting the Team, Gary must decide whether or not to return. But this time, his ex-teammates' lives are at stake, and it's such a waste to let a cute coworker die. If the boy-gets-girl line doesn't sound so enticing, just try and resist a film subplotted with the maniacal warmongerings of lovably deranged Korean dictator Kim Jong Il (also voiced by Parker).

The movie is made funniest by small stabs at pop culture, as opposed to the (comparatively) milder running jokes of varying subtlety (from blatantly crass to even more blatantly crass). However, the movie is made most notable by the fact that all scenes, save a montage of tourist sites in Washington, D.C., were filmed in miniature city replicas, the handiwork of David Rockwell. Additionally, the marionettes' 1,200 pieces of clothing were crafted meticulously by Karen Patch to fit their small-scale stars. Most importantly, Norman Tempia, a marionette designer, worked with a team of artisans to turn under 100 marionette heads and bodies into a cast of 250, each unique. The marionettes are an amazing and innovative cast for film, and their small statures provide for some goofy shots, including a scene with two black housecats cast as Il's pet panthers.

Sure, the humor's crude and there isn't a minute of footage where something isn't mocked, blown up or shot at. The language is rough, the politics are harsh - and a lot of people are probably looking forward to that. See Team America with an open mind or no mind at all, because what audiences don't get too worked up over, they'll laugh riotously at. And, if nothing else, creators Parker and Stone have proven one thing: when dealing with the hilariously politically incorrect, marionettes really do do it best.

Team America: World Police runs 105 minutes and is rated R for language, simulated violence, lewdness and marionette mayhem.

Tags: print

Anuja Shah. Anuja "Otto" Shah, a Junior in the CAP, -is thoroughly excited to be part of SCO, -enjoys the word "fiasco", -aspires to be monstrously cool, -remains prepared to settle for being vaguely nifty, and -probably owes you money, but has fled the country. More »

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