The word “puppet” is one “South Park” creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone hope to not hear again for a long time.
After months of grueling work, their new movie, “Team America: World Police,” has finally come to fruition, but it wasn’t an easy journey. “After the first week of shooting, I would have done anything to get out of it,” said Parker. “We know better than anyone how to make a puppet movie. But we will never do it again.”
The idea for the film came about when the two were watching “Thunderbirds” on television. They agreed that the look was cool but the storyline was not. “We were talking about how it was amazing that the show does so well when the scripts are the worst things ever written,” explained Parker. “We were like, ’If you put even a decent script with this look, it would be great.’ The original idea was let’s make a puppet movie, and then it was let’s make a puppet disaster movie.” And so “Team America” was born. The film revolves around an international police force that recruits Broadway actor Gary Johnston to go undercover and stop terrorists.
Although Parker and Stone use politics as a backdrop, don’t expect to walk out of the theater knowing where they stand on the issues. “[What we do in] the movie is something we do in ’South Park’ all the time, which is ridicule one side and then ridicule the other,” Stone said.
No one is off-limits in the film, which pokes fun at a slew of stars such as Susan Sarandon, Matt Damon, Liv Tyler, Tim Robbins and Alec Baldwin. Choosing which celebrities to portray in the film was the easy part. “A lot of it was whoever we happened to see on ’Crossfire.’ It was like, ’George Clooney was just on “Crossfire,” we have to put him in there,’ ” Stone explained.
Although the two have spent most of their adult life playing with cartoons and now puppets, they say they’ve grown a lot since the early “South Park” days. “When we started ’South Park’ we didn’t know how to write,” Parker said. “We knew how to be funny, but you can watch those first few episodes and they are basically just not written well. … What we have learned during the past eight years of doing ’South Park’ is the craft of writing. We have learned how it is all about emotion, and that is why to us it feels like every season the show has gotten better.”
They also assured “South Park” fans that if they like the show, they’ll like this movie.
“It is a similar sense of humor,” said Parker. ” ’South Park’ is so much who we are. I even had times when I was doing Gary’s voice and Cartman started coming out. There is a definite ’South Park’-ness to the whole movie.”
And for viewers who may not be able to stomach parts of the film — like an extended vomit shot or a puppet sex scene — Parker has some advice for you: “Go watch ’Bruce Almighty,’ because that is probably more up your alley.”
For a more from Stone and Parker, read Kurt Loder’s interview, “Team America: Cinematic Shock Therapy.”
Check out everything we’ve got on “Team America: World Police.”
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