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TEAM AMERICA: WORLD POLICE
Unrated Special Edition

Review by Michael Jacobson

Voices:  Trey Parker, Matt Stone, Kristen Miller, Masasa, Daran Norris
Director:  Trey Parker
Audio:  Dolby Digital 5.1
Video:  Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1
Studio:  Paramount
Features:  See Review
Length:  98 Minutes
Release Date:  May 17, 2005

"Promise me you'll never die."

"You know I can't promise that."

"If you did that, I would make love to you right now."

"I will NEVER DIE."

Film ***1/2

Team America: World Police was, for me, the hands-down funniest film of 2004...so much so, that I couldn't wait for the DVD to come out, just so I could replay my favorite parts over and over again.  And my favorite parts pretty much constitute the entire movie.

From South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone, Team America is a breath of fresh air for those of us who have been feeling suffocated by runaway political correctness.  This movie is outrageous, offensive, insensitive to a tee...and gut-bustingly funny.

For starters, the film uses actual stringed marionettes in an age of computer generated effects.  The technological step backwards will remind some audiences of the great Gerry Anderson shows of the 60s like Thunderbirds.  Others may be scratching their heads and wondering what the hell that decision was all about.

It deals with a super-secret organization known as Team America, who stands as the only force between terrorism and the free world.  With their superior firepower and cache of kiss-off lines, they come to the world's rescue time and time again.  Of course, sometimes they're a little too gung-ho and go overboard with the violence...the opening scene has them rescuing Paris from terrorists who wield weapons of mass destruction, but they end up blowing half the city away in order to save it. 

And seeing France getting blown to hell isn't even the funniest part of the film...it's just getting started.  Knowing they need someone to disguise themselves as a Middle Eastern terrorist in order to infiltrate the jihadist organizations and find out where the WMDs are coming from, Team America recruits Gary, a Broadway actor with a double major in theatre and world languages...what a lucky coinky-dink!

So Gary joins the plucky team leader Joe, the bitter martial arts expert Chris, the sweet empath Sarah, the beautiful psychologist Lisa, and the debonair man behind it all Spottswoode, in an effort to save the day.  But the terrorist organization goes even deeper than they suspected...all the way to North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, as well as to Alec Baldwin, Sean Penn, Tim Robbins and other members of the Film Actors Guild (use the acronym), whose professions of peace mask the fact that they're aiding  those who would destroy America and all she stands for!

The picture will make you laugh in multiple ways.  For one, the action sequences are frequently violent and over the top, like you'd see in a Michael Bay film.  Another is the graphic nature of a key sex scene involving puppets, and if you pick up this unrated version, be prepared to be rocked back in your seat by it! 

The song score is one of the funniest ever, from the rip-roaring theme song "America...F**k Yeah!", to the country twanged "Freedom Isn't Free", while "Montage" illustrates a...well, a montage.  Two of the most tickling tunes occur during touching moments, including Kim Jong Il pining "I'm So Ronery", and the breakup song "Pearl Harbor Sucked And I Miss You."

Apart from the action, sex and music, you'll get to see our heroes take on some of Hollywood's most outspoken activists in a hilarious climactic battle.  Come on, now...I don't care which side of the political spectrum you're on, you've always wanted to see Janeane Garofalo take one right between the eyes.  It's damned therapeutic.

Frankly, so is the whole movie.  Nothing is as cathartic as howling like an idiot at the kind of things society tells you not to laugh at, and Team America lets you do that from start to finish.  It will offend the easily offended and cut a swath through the overly sensitive...but if you're not one of those people, you'll probably laugh even harder thinking about how shocked and outraged they'll be when they see what you see!

BONUS TRIVIA:  Radio talk show host Phil Hendrie is the voice of Team America's computer.

Video ****

"Your acting skills have faded with age, Miss Sarandon..."

...but there's nothing faded about this gorgeous anamorphic transfer from Paramount.  It's so well detailed, you can see the strings!...kind of the point, really.  Colors are rich and vibrant and leap off the screen, and images are clean, clear and crisp throughout without any noticeable grain, compression, or other flaws to mar the experience. 

Audio ****

"You can't be serious."

"Oh, I AM serious.  Look...this is my serious face."

Seriously, the 5.1 audio is kicking from start to finish, with tons of bombastic action scenes and all kinds of great rock music exploding from the speakers.  Dynamic range is potent, and the rear stage and subwoofers keep you in the middle of the battles.  Razor sharp and clean...it doesn't get much better than this.

Features ***

"Team America has once again pissed off the entire world..."

The extras include an introduction by Trey and Matt, six production featurettes, a couple of early puppet tests, 10 deleted scenes, animated storyboards, two trailers and some additional Paramount previews.  I wish Trey and Matt had offered a commentary track, but maybe Kim Jong Il foiled them in their efforts.

Summary:

F**k yeah...Team America: World Police is a laugh riot from start to finish and from top to bottom.  These puppets kick butt, make love and wage war so well, you may never want human actors again.

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