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Team America: World Police

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Team America: World Police

Team America: World Police
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Trey Parker
Produced by Scott Rudin
Trey Parker
Matt Stone
Written by Trey Parker
Matt Stone
Pam Brady
Starring Trey Parker
Matt Stone
Kristen Miller
Daran Norris
Phil Hendrie
Music by Harry Gregson-Williams
Marc Shaiman
Cinematography Bill Pope
Edited by Thomas M. Vogt
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release dates
  • October 14, 2004 (2004-10-14) (Denver)
  • October 15, 2004 (2004-10-15)
Running time
99 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $32 million[2]
Box office $52.1 million[2]

Team America: World Police is a 2004 American satirical action comedy film written by Trey Parker, Matt Stone, and Pam Brady and directed by Parker, all of whom are also known for the popular animated television series South Park. The film is a satire of big-budget action films and their associated clichés and stereotypes, with particular humorous emphasis on the global implications of the politics of the United States. The film's title is derived from domestic and international political criticisms that the foreign policy of the United States frequently and unilaterally tries to "police the world." The film features a cast composed of supermarionettes. Team America focuses on a fictional team of political paramilitary policemen known as "Team America: World Police", who attempt to save the world from a violent terrorist plot led by Kim Jong-il.

The use of marionettes instead of actors in an action film is a reference to Thunderbirds, a popular 1960s British television show, although Stone and Parker were not fans of that show. The duo worked on the script with former South Park writer Pam Brady for nearly two years. The film had a troubled time in production, with various problems regarding the marionettes, as well as the scheduling extremes of having the film come out in time. In addition, the filmmakers fought with the Motion Picture Association of America, who returned the film over nine times with an NC-17 rating. The film was recut by a few seconds and rated R.

The film was released in the United States on October 15, 2004 and received generally positive reviews. Team America grossed over $52 million worldwide. The film was released on DVD in the United States on May 17, 2005, available in both R-rated and unrated versions.


  • Plot 1
  • Cast 2
  • Production 3
    • Development 3.1
    • Writing 3.2
    • Filming 3.3
    • Editing 3.4
    • Music 3.5
  • Individuals parodied 4
  • Reception 5
    • Box office 5.1
    • Filmmakers' response 5.2
  • Legacy 6
  • See also 7
  • References 8
  • External links 9


Team America: World Police, a paramilitary anti-terrorism force, has a home base located inside Mount Rushmore. The team comprises Lisa, a psychologist; Carson, her love interest; Sarah, an alleged psychic; Joe, a jock who is in love with Sarah; and Chris, a martial arts expert who harbors a deep mistrust of actors. The team is led by Spottswoode and a supercomputer named I.N.T.E.L.L.I.G.E.N.C.E.. Having tracked down a group of terrorists in Paris, France, the team inadvertently destroys the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe and the Louvre during a huge gun battle, causing more destruction than the terrorists could have ever dreamed of. The team, however, regard this as a success. Carson proposes to Lisa, but a surviving terrorist guns him down. As a replacement, Spottswoode recruits Gary Johnston, a Broadway actor with college majors in Theater and World Languages. Unbeknownst to the team, North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il is supplying international terrorists with weapons of mass destruction.

Using his acting skills, Gary successfully infiltrates a terrorist group in Susan Sarandon, Ethan Hawke, Helen Hunt, Martin Sheen, Danny Glover, Sean Penn and Tim Robbins. As the team relaxes following their victory, Gary tells Lisa about his childhood: his acting talent caused his brother to be killed by gorillas. While the two express their feelings and have sex, a group of terrorists blow up the Panama Canal as retaliation for what had happened to Cairo.

The Film Actors Guild again blames Team America over the incident regarding the Panama Canal. Gary, realizing that his acting talents have once again resulted in tragedy, abandons the others. The original members depart for Derkaderkastan, but are captured by terrorists, which include the North Korean government. Filmmaker Michael Moore vengefully infiltrates the team's Mount Rushmore base and suicide bombs the area. In North Korea, Kim Jong-il hosts a peace ceremony, inviting the Film Actors Guild and all the world's political leaders. Using the ceremony as a mere distraction, Kim Jong-il plans to detonate a series of bombs throughout the world, reducing every nation to a Third World country. During a depressed state as an alcoholic, Gary finds himself reminded of his responsibility by a speech from a drunken drifter. Upon returning to Mount Rushmore, he finds the area in ruins, though Spottswoode and I.N.T.E.L.L.I.G.E.N.C.E. have survived.

After regaining Spottswoode's trust by giving him a blowjob and undergoing a one-day training course, Gary is sent to North Korea, where he uses his acting skills to free the other members. The team then engages in a violent battle with the Film Actors Guild in which most of the actors are brutally killed. After Gary uses his acting skills to save Chris's life, Chris finally confesses to Gary that he mistrusts actors because when he was 19 years old, he was raped by the cast of the musical Cats. The team then confronts Kim Jong-il. Gary goes on stage and convinces the world's leaders to unite by using the drifter's emotional speech. Kim Jong-il kills Alec Baldwin with an assault rifle, and then is kicked over a balcony by Lisa. He is impaled on a Pickelhaube and is revealed to be an alien cockroach from the planet Gyron. The cockroach then departs in a miniature spaceship, promising to return. As Gary and Lisa begin a relationship, the team reunites, preparing to combat all of the world's remaining terrorists.


The film also features a man dressed as a giant statue of Kim Il-sung, two live cats, two nurse sharks, and a cockroach, with the difference in size with the marionettes played for humorous effect.

A poster of The Barbi Twins was featured on the billboard in Times Square, making the Twins the only non-marionettes in the film.



Two adult males sitting in chairs; the male at the right is speaking into a handheld microphone
Creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone were exhausted with production on Team America and its scheduling extremes.

After the "hassle" of producing their last film, South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut, Parker and Stone vowed never to create another movie.[3] The film's earliest origins involve Parker and Stone watching Gerry Anderson's Thunderbirds on television while bored. When the duo saw the series, they recalled seeing it on television but were not fans. Parker found that the series was unable to hold his interest as a child because "the dialogue was so expository and slow, and it took itself really seriously."[4] The duo inquired about the rights to the series and found Universal Studios was doing a Thunderbirds film directed by Jonathan Frakes. "We said, 'What? Jonathan Frakes is directing puppets?' and then we found out it was a live-action version, and we were disappointed," said Parker.[3]

The two then read in the trades that The Day After Tomorrow had been sold to Fox due to a one-line pitch regarding global warming, which Parker and Stone found hilarious and "insane." Parker recalled Stone running up to him during work at South Park holding the paper, who sat down and read the synopsis regarding "sudden global warming attacking the earth." The two were in tears from laughing.[5] The two got a copy of the script, and soon realized that The Day After Tomorrow was the "greatest puppet script ever written".[6] Originally intending to do a shot-for-shot puppet parody of The Day After Tomorrow, Parker and Stone were advised by their lawyers that there could be possible legal repercussions.[7] The spoof would have been called The Day After the Day After Tomorrow, and been released a day later than The Day After Tomorrow.[5] News broke of the duo signing on to create the film on October 17, 2002, with Stone revealing that it would be a homage to Anderson.[8] The news was confirmed in June 2003, with Variety quoting Stone as saying "What we wanted was to do a send-up of these super important huge action movies that Jerry Bruckheimer makes."[9]


When the duo pitched Team America to Paramount Pictures, the studio believed the film would not be a financial success. The two pitched the film to their producer Scott Rudin first, who immediately "got" and understood the project, and eventually convinced Paramount to give the project the green light. Studio executives were initially unenthusiastic about the project, but were won over when they saw the dailies being shown.[4] The studio was in favor of the film's lack of political correctness, but were confused by the use of puppets. The executives explained that they could not make profit from an R-rated puppet feature, and Parker countered that they had said the same thing regarding an R-rated animated musical (in reference to South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut).[6] Parker, Stone, and longtime writing partner Pam Brady spent nearly two years perfecting the Team America script. For influences, they studied scores of popular action and disaster films, such as Alien, Top Gun, and S.W.A.T.[10] The duo watched Pearl Harbor to get the nuances of the puppets just right when they were staring at each other, and also used Ben Affleck as a model.[6] To help shape the film's archetypal heroes (from the true believer to the reluctant hero to the guy who sells out his friends for greater glory), they read the books of Joseph Campbell. "On one level, it's a big send-up," Brady said. "But on another, it's about foreign policy."[10] The first draft of the script was turned in well before the Iraq War.[6] The film takes aim at various celebrities, many of whom came out in opposition to the Iraq War in 2003. Brady explained that the film's treatment of celebrities was derived from her annoyance at the screen time given to celebrities in the beginning of the Iraq War, in lieu of foreign policy experts.[10]


The film's central concept was easier to conceive than to execute.[10] Team America was produced using a crew of about 200 people, which sometimes required four people at a time to manipulate a marionette. The duo were forced to constantly rewrite the film during production due to the limited nature of the puppets. The 270 puppet characters were created by the Chiodo Brothers, who previously designed puppets for films such as Elf and Dinosaur. The costumers of the crew were responsible for making sure the over 1,000 costumes remained in cohesive order and were realistic. Production began on May 23, 2004.[3] The project was interrupted multiple times early on in production.[6] As soon as filming began, Parker and Stone labored to find the right comic tone; the original script for the film contained many more jokes. After shooting the very first scene, the two realized the jokes were not working, and that the humor instead came from the marionettes.[11] "Puppets doing jokes is not funny," Stone found. "But when you see puppets doing melodrama, spitting up blood and talking about how they were raped as children, that's funny."[10] Filming was done by three units shooting different parts at the same time. Occasionally, the producers had up to five cameras set up to capture the scene.[4]

The film was mainly based on the 1982 cult classic action film Megaforce, of which Parker and Stone had been fans. Many ideas had been copied such as the flying motorcycle sequence. The film was painstakingly made realistic, which led to various shots being re-done throughout the process due to Parker and Stone's obsession with detail and craftsmanship. For example, a tiny Team America-scale Uzi cost $1,000 to construct, and Kim Jong-il's eyeglasses were made with hand-ground prescription lenses.[10] Although the filmmakers hired three dozen top-notch marionette operators, simple performances from the marionettes were nearly impossible, with a simple shot such as a character drinking might take a half-day to complete successfully.[10] Both Parker and Stone agreed during production of Team America that it was "the hardest thing [they'd] ever done." Rather than rely on computer-generated special effects added in post-production, the filmmakers vied to capture every stunt live on film.[10] Parker likened each shot to a complicated math problem.[12]

The late September 2004 deadline for the film's completion[4][10] took a toll on both filmmakers, as did various difficulties in working with puppets, with Stone, who described the film as "the worst time of [my] life," resorting to coffee to work 20-hour days, and sleeping pills and coffee to go to bed.[13] The film was barely completed in time for its October 15 release date. At a press junket in Los Angeles on October 5, journalists were only shown a 20-minute reel of highlights because there was no finished print.[14] Many of the film's producers, besides Parker and Stone, had not even seen the entire film with the sound mix until the premiere.[11]


"It's a back-and-forth with the board. They said it can't be as many positions, so we cut out a couple of them. We love the golden shower, but I guess they said no to that. But I just love that they have to watch it. Seriously, can you imagine getting a videotape with just a close-up of a puppet asshole, and you have to watch it?"

Trey Parker on the clashes between him and Stone and the MPAA[12]

Even before the scene's submission to the Motion Picture Association of America, Parker planned to "have fun" pushing the limits by throwing in the graphic sex scene.[3] The duo knew the racy film would be met with some opposition, but were outraged when the film came back with their harshest rating, NC-17. The original cut's minute and a half sex scene with Gary and Lisa was cut down to 50 seconds. The original scene also featured the two puppets urinating and defecating on one another.[12] The entire joke was based on what children do humorously with dolls such as Ken and Barbie. At least nine edits of the puppet love scene were shown to the MPAA before the board accepted that it had been toned down enough to qualify for an R rating.[15] Parker contrasted the MPAA's reluctance for the sex scene to their acceptance of the violence: "Meanwhile, we're taking other puppets and, you know, blowing their heads off, they're covered with blood and stuff, and the MPAA didn't have a word to say about that."[16] In addition to the sex scene, the MPAA were also upset with a puppet being eaten alive by sharks.[17] The duo faced a similar conflict with their previous film, South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut, in 1999.[18]


Main theme of the 2004 film Team America: World Police.

Problems playing this file? See .
Team America: World Police
Soundtrack album by Various artists
Released 2004
Recorded Various
Genre Soundtrack
Length 47:00
Label RCA/Arista
Producer Trey Parker, Matt Stone, Scott Rudin (exec.), Scott Aversano (exec.), Anne Garefino (exec.)

Marc Shaiman was originally hired to compose the original score and help Parker compose the film's songs. He helped compose "Everyone Has AIDS" and "Derka Derk (Terrorist Theme)". He submitted a score, but the studio rejected it and fired Shaiman, hiring Harry Gregson-Williams as a last-minute replacement (Parker had instructed Shaiman to score the film as if it were a typical action film, which they agreed would make it funnier, while the studio felt the score should play up the comedy). However, Shaiman still conducted the orchestra in the film's scoring sessions and Gregson-Williams stuck to the traditional action film score concept.

The film's songs include:

Individuals parodied

Famous people depicted as puppets, and lampooned, in the film include Liv Tyler, Martin Sheen, Susan Sarandon, Janeane Garofalo, Matt Damon, Samuel L. Jackson, Danny Glover, Ethan Hawke, Kim Jong-il, Tony Blair, Queen Elizabeth II, Peter Jennings and Hans Blix. With the exception of Jennings, Tony Blair and Queen Elizabeth (and Sheen, whose death is not shown despite being involved in the F.A.G. vs. Team America battle), all are killed in dramatic and extremely violent ways.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-il was parodied in the film, and the DPRK asked the Czech Republic to ban it.[19]

Reactions from those parodied were mixed; Baldwin found the project "so funny",[20] and expressed interest in lending his voice to his character.[21] In a 2008 video interview with Time, Baldwin related how

External links

  • Moriarty Visits Matt & Trey On The Team America Set! - set report from
  • Team America: World Police - synopsis, clips and images from
  • (October 2004). Play: South Park's Puppet Regime. Wired 12.10. Retrieved October 6, 2004.
  • BBC Interview with Matt Stone
  • Team America - Guy In Bar Philosophy by composer M.Regtien
  2. ^ a b c "Team America: World Police (2004)".  
  3. ^ a b c d "Team America"Trey and Matt String Together . Zap2It. August 23, 2004. Retrieved June 12, 2011. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f "Puppetry of the Meanest". In Focus. October 4, 2004. Retrieved June 12, 2011. 
  5. ^ a b  
  6. ^ a b c d e "Interview: Matt Stone/Trey Parker". Mediasharx. October 13, 2005. Retrieved June 12, 2014. 
  7. ^ a b Bowles, Scott (October 11, 2004). strings, yank a few chains"Team"Parker, Stone pull .  
  8. ^ Roger Friedman (October 17, 2002). Creators Pull the Strings"South Park".  
  9. ^ Patrick Sauriol (June 25, 2003). "' Team AmericaCreators PrepareSouth Park '". (source:  
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i Guys At End Of Rope"South Park"Film Has . Los Angeles Times. September 18, 2005. Retrieved June 12, 2011. 
  11. ^ a b Heather Havrilesky (October 12, 2004). "Puppet masters". Salon. Retrieved June 12, 2011. 
  12. ^ a b c "Puppetmasters".  
  13. ^ "' was 'lowest pointTeam America"Stone says .  
  14. ^ Roger Friedman (October 5, 2004). : Sex, Puppets & Controversy"Team America".  
  15. ^ Puppets"Team America"R Sex for . E!. October 8, 2004. Retrieved June 12, 2011. 
  16. ^ "Hollywood's new puppetmasters".  
  17. ^ Stars Upset Over Puppet Sex Censorship"South Park". ContactMusic. October 7, 2004. Retrieved June 12, 2011. 
  18. ^ Bernard Weinraub (June 29, 1999). "South Park"Loosening a Strict Film Rating for .  
  19. ^ a b Team America' unsettles Team Kim in Pyongyang"'". Retrieved November 20, 2010. 
  20. ^ a b "Alec Baldwin on Tracy Morgan and Kim Jong-Il". Live 10 Questions Event. TIME Magazine Official YouTube Channel. Retrieved June 17, 2011. 
  21. ^ "Team America speaks!". MovieWeb. October 12, 2004. Retrieved July 7, 2010. 
  22. ^ "Letter by Sean Penn". DrudgeReport Archives. October 8, 2004. Retrieved September 14, 2009. 
  23. ^ "Clooney Supports Team America Duo". January 31, 2006. ...the Hollywood big-hitters all insist they would have been offended to be left out of the film. 
  24. ^ "North Korean leader loves Hennessey, Bond movies", CNN, Janunary 8, 2003
  25. ^ "‘Team America’ takes on moviegoers".  
  26. ^ "Team America: World Police". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved March 11, 2012.
  27. ^ Team America: World Police Reviews, Ratings, Credits, and More. Metacritic. Retrieved March 11, 2012.
  28. ^ [2] YouTube Interview by Sky Movies. Retrieved 18 May 2014.
  29. ^ Hassan, Genevieve (October 7, 2008). "Talking Shop: Gerry Anderson".  
  30. ^ Miller, John (February 23, 2009). "The Best Conservative Movies".  
  31. ^ Winter, Bill. "Trey Parker - Libertarian". Advocates for Self-Government. Retrieved December 13, 2008. When asked to describe his politics, Parker said he was "a registered Libertarian." 
  32. ^ "Interview with Matt Stone". BBC. 
  33. ^ "Puppet Masters - Interview with Matt Stone and Trey Parker". Salon. 
  34. ^ Rusty Humphries (17 December 2014). "Sony needs ‘Team America: World Police’". Washington Times. 
  35. ^ Russ Burlingame (18 December 2014). "The Interview To Be Replaced By Team America: World Police At Alamo Drafthouse". 
  36. ^ David Lieberman (18 December 2014). Showings, Theaters Say"Team America"Paramount Cancels . Deadline Hollywood. 
  37. ^ "Paramount pulls screenings of 'Team America: World Police,' theaters say." Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 19 December 2014.
  38. ^ ."The Interview screenings canceled in wake of controversy over Team America: World Police" The Times-Picayune ( Retrieved 19 December 2014.
  39. ^ David Weigel (18 December 2014). "'"First 'The Interview,' Now Theaters Cancel Protest Screenings of 'Team America. Bloomberg Politics. 
  40. ^ "Cave! ‘Team America’ Screenings To Replace ‘The Interview’ Pulled By Paramount". The Inquisitor. 18 December 2014. 
  41. ^
  42. ^ Paul Bond (April 20, 2015). The Interview' Sequel: Inside the Frightening Battle Raging on the North Korean Border"'".  


See also

Snippets of the film mocking Kim Jong-il are reportedly set to be included, alongside copies of The Interview, in helium-filled balloons launched by North Korean defectors into their home country in an effort to inspire education on the Western world's views on it.[42]

In the aftermath of the December 2014 terrorism threats by Guardians of Peace on showings of the film The Interview, which resulted in Sony Pictures pulling the film from release,[34] several theatres, including Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Austin, Texas, protested the loss by scheduling free showings of Team America: World Police.[35] However, Paramount pulled distribution of Team America from theaters, including those in Cleveland, Atlanta, and New Orleans.[36][37][38] This action is seen by President Barack Obama as an attack on freedom of speech by Hollywood studios,[39] and others as an act of pure cowardice.[40] In the aftermath, sales of the film on Amazon skyrocketed until copies were sold out in December 2014.[41]


Because that's the thing that we realized when we were making the movie. It was always the hardest thing. We wanted to deal with this emotion of being hated as an American. That was the thing that was intriguing to us, and having Gary [the main character] deal with that emotion. And so, him becoming ashamed to be a part of Team America and being ashamed of himself, he comes to realize that, just as he got his brother killed by gorillas — he didn't kill his brother; he wasn't a dick, he wasn't an asshole — so too does America have this role in the world as a dick. Cops are dicks, you fucking hate cops, but you need 'em.

In another interview, Parker and Stone further clarified the end of the film which seems to justify the role of the United States as the "World Police."[33]

In an interview with

Filmmakers' response

Team America earned $12,120,358 in its opening U.S. weekend, ranking number three behind Shark Tale and Friday Night Lights. The film eventually grossed a total of $52,107,422, with $32,886,074 in U.S. domestic receipts and $18,221,348 in international proceeds.[2]

Box office

The film suffered oppositional criticism prior to release. In August, Internet news aggregator Matt Drudge blasted Paramount and the filmmakers for trying to "mock the terror war." A week later, the conservative group Move America Forward criticized the film, saying it was "inconceivable" that filmmakers would have spoofed the Nazis during World War II.[7] In reality, many films mocking the Nazis were produced during the war, including Charlie Chaplin's The Great Dictator, which was nominated for five Academy Awards. Before Team America was released, statements were released by a "senior Bush administration official" condemning the film. Upon receiving the news, the duo called and found it was instead a "junior staffer," causing Stone to quip "What is it – junior or senior? What are we talking about here? Who knows? It might have been the janitor." The two eventually decided it was free publicity, with which they were fine.[4] Some media outlets interpreted the film's release on October 15 to be in theaters before the November elections. In reality, the release date had nothing to do with the elections; in fact, the film was intended to be released earlier, but production fell behind.[4]

National Review Online has named the film #24 in its list of "The Best Conservative Movies". Brian C. Anderson wrote, "the film's utter disgust with air-headed, left-wing celebrity activism remains unmatched in popular culture."[30] However, political and social commentator Andrew Sullivan considers the film brilliant in its skewering of both the left and right's approach on terrorism. Sullivan (a fan of Stone and Parker's other work, as well) popularized the term "South Park Republican" to describe himself and other like-minded fiscal conservatives/social libertarians. Parker himself is a registered Libertarian.[31]

Thunderbirds creator Gerry Anderson was supposed to have met Parker before production, but they cancelled the meeting, acknowledging he would not like the film's expletives. Anderson saw the completed film and felt "there are good, fun parts [in the film] but the language wasn't to my liking."[29]

Based on 194 reviews, the film received a 77% "certified fresh" rating at review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, with the consensus stating, "Team America will either offend you or leave you in stitches. It'll probably do both."[26] The film also holds a rating of 64 out of 100 at Metacritic, based on 38 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[27] It is one of Quentin Tarantino's top 20 films since 1992.[28]


A deleted scene also shows Meryl Streep and Ben Affleck (who is portrayed with a real-life hand replacing his head).

We have a very specific beef with Michael Moore. . . . I did an interview, and he didn't mischaracterize me or anything I said in Bowling for Columbine. But what he did do was put this cartoon [titled A Brief History of the United States of America, written by Moore, animated and directed by Harold Moss] right after me that made it look like we did that cartoon.[25]

Moore is depicted as a fat, hot dog-eating glutton who partakes in suicide bombing and is referred to as a "giant socialist weasel" by I.N.T.E.L.L.I.G.E.N.C.E. Stone explained the reason for this portrayal in an MSNBC interview:

Kim Jong-il, a noted film buff,[24] never commented publicly about his depiction in Team America: World Police, although shortly after its release North Korea asked the Czech Republic to ban the film; the country refused saying that North Koreans had been rebuffed in their effort to undermine the Czech Republic's post-Communist-era freedom.[19] The filmmakers acknowledged this in a DVD extra and jokingly suggested he sing "I'm So Ronery".


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