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Team America: World Police

Why stop at calling Team America: World Police outrageously, gut-bustingly hilarious? It’s also a ruthlessly clever musical, a punchy political parody and the hottest look ever at naked puppets — the first film, porn included, in which a woody is actually made of wood. Those South Park mischief-makers — director Trey Parker and co-screenwriter Matt Stone — have produced their own Jerry Bruckheimer epic (think Armageddon and Pearl Harbor) using Chiodo brothers string puppets instead of Ben Affleck and Liv Tyler. And for all the frat-boy humor, the film (shot by Matrix master Bill Pope) is a visual knockout, with design and costumes getting as many laughs as the script.p>he sex has been tamped down (no puppet golden shower until the DVD) for the sake of an R rating, but the jokes come hard and fast enough to obliterate the limp ones. The six members of Team America are hellbent on destroying terror, even as they obliviously wipe out world monuments. When one puppet dies in battle, TA boss Spottswoode recruits Gary, a double major in world languages and theater. Even though Spottswoode tests Gary by asking him to suck his dick, Gary gets in touch with his inner hero and leaves his ring role in Broadway’s Lease, a Rent rip-off in which he sings, “Everyone has AIDS/Whites have it and spades do too.” The songs, as in South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut, are get-the-soundtrack-now uproarious, be it a country riff (“Freedom isn’t free/There’s a hefty fuckin’ fee”), a hard-rock anthem (“America — Fuck, Yeah”) or a power ballad (“Pearl Harbor sucked/Just a little bit more than I love you”). Still, it’s North Korean dictator Kim Jong II, the film’s scene-stealing villain, who stops the show with “I’m Ronely.” Parker, who does the voices of Kim and Gary, among others, is a vocal wonder.p>olitical wonks think that Team America outs Parker and Stone as closet righties. Though no mention is made of Bush or Kerry, the film targets a clear and present danger: liberal Hollywood. Janeane Garofalo pisses off the boys for going on TV to parrot what she’s read in the papers. So they turn her into a puppet and blow her head clean off. Sweet. One actor gets his own tribute song (“You Are Worthless, Alec Baldwin”), and Michael Moore, Sean Penn, George Clooney, Tim Robbins and (most ungallantly) Susan Sarandon are royally skewered. But only for the high crime of taking themselves seriously. Parker and Stone are too smart to ever make that mistake. Screw critics who urge them to mature. Does America need these we-won’t-grow-up outlaws to keep sticking it to the system? Fuck, yeah.

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