Gary’s life as a pampered Broadway star takes a turn when his talents come to the attention of Spottswoode, the suave and gutsy brains behind Team America World Police, an elite anti-terrorist organization. The group consists of Lisa, the blonde bomb-shell, Chris, the corn fed hick from Kansas, Sarah, the empathic Pan Asian beauty, and Joe, the foul mouthed tough guy. Gary’s acting abilities are apparently just what the group needs to infiltrate the terrorist ranks and halt the evil use of weapons of mass destruction. TAWP soon discover however that it is not a simple loose band of no goodniks determined to wipe out the occasional city, but the leader of the Axis of Evil, who may not be what he seems.
As noted by Matt Stone in 'Entertainment Weekly,' he and Trey Parker, the creators of 'South Park', originally decided to do a movie with marionettes so they could “…f&$k up some puppets.” When their hopes of doing “The Day After Tomorrow” were dashed - the deal had already been inked for a live action version (the wisdom of which remains to be seen - the duo decided to come up with their own script.
For Stone and Parker, there are no sacred cows and everyone is fair game: whether conservative, liberal, madman (if Kim Il Sung sees this film he just may decided to flex his nuclear might) or actor (“guest appearances” include Sean Penn, Alec Baldwin, Susan Sarandon, and many others voiced by the diabolical duo). They also borrow from the headlines and blockbusters, mixing the two indiscriminately.
In spite of the somewhat limited nature of the medium – it’s no easy task getting puppets to do one’s bidding and look good doing it (the fight sequences are hysterical) - the puppets manage to display more emotion than many a Hollywood star. This is due in large part to the skill of the puppeteers, the lifelike facial features and some truly amazing animatronics that allow them to accurately mimic dialogue.
While not on par with the witty tracks in 'South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut,' there are a number of hilarious songs to liven up the film (the soundtrack is now available in stores) including my favorites “America, F@$k ya!” and “Montage.” And TAWP is most definitely not for kids – it is rife with coarse language, lifelike violence, political incorrectness and sexual situations. Yes, you read that correctly, we’re talking Ken and Barbie do the Kama Sutra, which almost resulted in the film getting an NC-17 rating (apparently the anatomical correctness of the puppets had to be “corrected.”)
The verdict on TAWP? The story is engaging, the sets - ranging from Egypt to Paris - are surprisingly realistic, you get to see lots of things blow up real good (you know there is some Michael Bay influence in this beauty) and the puppetry is top notch (how often do you get to say that in a review?). The coup de grace is the non-stop going-for-jugular humor that had me laughing so hard I wasn’t sure if I was going to throw up or pee myself (luckily I did neither). And apparently I was not alone - I spoke with jaded reviewers who looked like they had just come off a crying jag. If you’re looking for an antidote to the saccharin fare polluting the movie screens, this is your film.