Team America: World Police

Team America: World Police

Pretty much all I have to say is "The South Park guys made a puppet movie" and you know what to expect: ribald humor, razor-sharp sendups of American culture in general and American celebrity culture in particular, and songs.

Copping the "supermarionation" style made famous by the 1960s British TV show Thunderbirds, Trey Parker and Matt Stone's marionettes embody the titular team of freedom fighters, thwarting terrorists around the world no matter the cost - to other nations, that is. Politically incorrect as ever, Parker and Stone pair up North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Il with Hollywood's most notable liberal actors (Alec Baldwin, Tim Robbins, et al) as the film's villains, as Kim prepares to launch terrorist attacks across a world made helpless by their adoration of these self-aggrandizing thespians preaching peace. Leave it to the bickering Team America, a macho group of action movie hero cliches, to dispense not only with the terrorists, but with the movie stars themselves, in particularly gruesome fashion.

Only the dimmest of dimwits won't see the satire behind this film's over-the-top patriotism. Yet the consistently refreshing thing about Parker and Stone's biting comedy has always been their take-no-prisoners approach, where both right and left are skewered, and no envelope is left unpushed. (Team America features a hilariously hardcore puppet sex scene that in no way could ever have been done in a studio film with actual actors.)

On top of all that, the mind-bogglingly detailed miniature set design is legitimately Oscar-worthy, and the costumes and cinematography, small-scale as they are, are top notch. Team America is an utterly strange film, in the best sense of the word, and gives us hope that if a Hollywood studio can produce something this weird, this unique, this funny, and this rude, and get it onto 2,000 American screens, then there is hope for us all.