Now, before you think I’m being profane for profanity’s sake, you should known that particular phrase is a key ingredient to several musical interludes in “Team America: World Police,” the latest offering from “South Park’s” Trey Parker and Matt Stone. In addition to being topical, it’s also the _expression that most readily describes my reaction to the film, which is easily the funniest movie I’ve seen since, well, “South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut.”
Comedy – good comedy, that is – doesn’t shy away from taking shots at unexpected and possibly unpopular targets. The great comedians of yore (Bruce, Pryor, Foxx, Hicks) all knew this, and so do Parker and Stone. Sure, North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il is the evil mastermind, but so, in a way, are Alec Baldwin and Matt Damon. Americans are portrayed as either militaristic death dealers with no regard for collateral damage (Team America itself) or misguided peaceniks who’d rather take the word of just about anyone over the leaders of the own country (the fictional Film Actors Guild). Foreign characters whose languages can’t easily be reproduced (Arabs and Koreans) speak gibberish, and every possible action movie cliché, from Irwin Allen to Bay and Bruckheimer, is turned on its ear (the best of these may be the “Montage” montage). And all with puppets who kill each other and have sex. “Team America” truly has something for everyone.
Revealing too much in a review would really spoil this movie, and writing jokes down never works anyway. The plot, fortunately, doesn’t require much exposition. Team America hunts down terrorists across the globe using their impressive array of vehicles and weaponry (it’s like “Thunderbirds” with Tourette’s), until one of their own falls in battle. Realizing the need to infiltrate the terrorists’ cells, the team recruits stage actor Gary Johnston. Johnston’s job is to bluff his way into a secret terrorist meeting in order to recover missing weapons of mass destruction. Meanwhile, North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il is devising an evil scheme of his own. Along the way, Parker and Stone ridicule everyone from Hans Blix to Michael Moore, and actually make us think a little about appropriate responses to international aggression.
Ha ha, not really. “Team America” isn’t very long on political satire, though that’s definitely at work. When done correctly, satire by itself can be devastating, but it rarely inspires belly laughs. For that, you need some filth, and the filmmakers are only to happy to oblige. The puppet sex scene is here, though apparently not in all of its anatomically incorrect glory (the scat scenes were cut, as well as the one where the man puppet orally pleasures the female puppet, since you asked), and one scene in an alley, following Gary’s attempts to drown his sorrows, had me laughing s hard I thought I’d ruptured myself.
“Team America” is gleefully profane, excessively violent, and refreshingly lewd. I doubt you’ll see a funnier movie this year, unless you’re the kind of person who doesn’t find marionettes getting eaten by sharks or singing about Ben Affleck in “Pearl Harbor” humorous. If that’s the case, I pity both you and your humorless spawn, who will never know the sheer joy that comes from watching a puppet in a fighter jet blowing up the Louvre.