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Team America’ delivers shocks, laughs to audience

By Michael Siebernaler

Pulse Reporter

Grade B-

Offensive or inquisitive? That’s the question you have to ask yourself before you see the latest politically charged comedy from the seemingly fearless team of Trey Parker and Matt Stone.

The title “Team America: World Police” says enough on its own, but the creators of TV’s “South Park” go much farther than anyone could imagine. They successfully combine biting satire with the action movie genre.

This puppeteer movie, inspired by the British cult classic “Thunderbirds,” features memorable songs, decent sets/environments, plenty of great jokes and gags (literally). All of these elements were brought together because of well respected producer, Scott Rudin, Paramont’s venerable mainstay who guided the creation of “Wonder Boys,” “The Hours” and “The Truman Show.” The task of combining ambitious visuals with a cast full of puppets, which is largely successful, fell to cinematographer Bill Pope (“Spider-Man 2”, “The Matrix”) who was born in Bowling Green – Kentucky.

Team America is a team of crime fighters that jet around the world fighting terrorists and other foes. Each member of the team has their own personal hang-up/background as they recklessly defend the planet from all terrorist threats including the main antagonist, North Korea’s Kim Jong Il.

Parker and Stone provided most of the voice work as well as wrote the screenplay with fellow “South Park” writer Pam Brady. The film is full of cheesy lines like “feelings are feelings because we can’t control them” and “believing is all we have” that aims at lampooning some of the lamer conventions of big budget action films.

They make fun of themselves as filmmakers and pay homage to popular films like “Star Wars” as much as they rip into targeted celebrities in the “film actors guild” (yes, there’s endless references to the unfortunate acronym).

You see a lot of surprisingly impressive filming techniques like fadeouts, but it’s not long before Parker and Stone launch into a hilarious “Rocky”-like montage song where they explain how the techniques “show the passing of time” in the verses.

The numerous original songs including a Team America theme song, a sad song disguised as a slam on “Pearl Harbor” and a patriotic song with a “freedom costs a buck o’ five” chorus.

The laughs keep coming through some hilarious sight gags involving panthers, fight sequences, “super secret” hiding spots and a special signal used when in trouble. Other comedic elements get laughs even when repeated throughout the story including one disturbing sex act that appears three times and a drunken philosophy that places people into three crude categories featured in the film’s climax.

The movie is very topical and controversial, mostly because of the content, but still never offers any redeeming values. Still there are enough laughs to allow Parker and Stone to stay in the Hollywood game full of people they idolize and vilify.

Rated R for language, sex references, violence, sexual content, innuendo, crude humor…(you get the idea). The ending credits include a musical montage of all the original songs plus a new one about the “real” origin of Kim Jong Il.

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