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Film review: Team America: World Police

Chris, Sarah, Lisa and Joe are marionettes in "Team America: World Police," by the creators of "South Park."
Chris, Sarah, Lisa and Joe are marionettes in "Team America: World Police," by the creators of "South Park."
Melinda Sue Gordon, Paramount Pictures

"Team America: World Police" just might be the funniest political satire/pop-culture parody film done entirely with puppets. Of course, it doesn't have much competition for that crown.

And it isn't as consistently, laugh-out-loud funny as we might have hoped. As with all of the works done by "South Park" creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the film is extremely hit-and-miss. There are a lot of dead spots in this one.

As you might expect, it's also extremely R-rated, with content that really pushes the envelope, especially in terms of violence and sex — as ridiculous as it sounds to use those terms in conjunction with marionettes. To say this film isn't for all tastes is putting it mildly.

The title refers to a not-so-secret team of patriotic freedom fighters whose not-so-secret base is located in Mount Rushmore. From there, they take on terrorist threats around the world. (The joke is, the team members often destroy the cities they are trying to protect.)

However, the team has recently suffered the loss of one of its members. So their leader, Spottswoode (Daran Norris), drafts a Broadway star, Gary Johnston (Parker, playing one of several characters), to join their ranks. They're hoping he can use his acting skills to impersonate a Middle Eastern terrorist and stop a faction from using their weapons of mass destruction. What they don't know is that the terrorists are being funded and led by North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il (Parker again).

As always, Parker and Stone use the material to take potshots at anyone and everything, from politically motivated celebrities like Alec Baldwin and Martin Sheen to the "Star Wars" and James Bond movies to the whole concept of the War on Terror.

The best of the gags are the musical parodies, which are done in varying styles, including a country-western ballad and a song parodying the bombastic musical hits from Jerry Bruckheimer's even more bombastic blockbusters.

"Team America: World Police" is rated R for crude jokes about and references to sexual and bodily functions, action violence (shootings, animal attack, hand-to-hand combat, torture and explosive mayhem), frequent use of strong sexual profanity, fairly graphic gore, simulated sex and other sexual contact (done for laughs) and brief nudity (anatomically correct puppets). Running time: 98 minutes.