Follow TV Tropes


Film / Team America: World Police

Go To

"America! Fuck Yeah!
Comin' again to save the motherfuckin' day, yeah!
America! Fuck Yeah!
Freedom is the only way, yeah!"
Theme Song

Team America: World Police is a 2004 American satirical action comedy film produced and written by Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the guys who made South Park, and directed by Parker, who used (cheap) marionettes to lampoon U.S. foreign policy and the war on terror, the action films of Michael Bay, liberal Hollywood actors, and everyone else for that matter.

Gary Johnston is a skilled actor who joins Team America, a group of five counterterrorists whose preferred method involves Stuff Blowing Up. The leader, Spottswoode, wants him to go undercover to discover the next terrorist plot, dubbed "9/11 times a hundred" (91,100).

Unbeknownst to our heroes, North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Il is secretly funding and arming the terrorists. He is also encouraging the Film Actors Guild (led by Alec Baldwin) to shut down Team America and its ultra violent antics.

Notable for using Thunderbirds-style marionettes and miniatures for visuals. The reduced scale allowed different shots and large scenes on the cheap. Its cartoonish qualities also let it turn up the sex and violence because, hey, they're puppets!

The script for this film was actually Plan B from Trey Parker and Matt Stone in making a marionette movie - there were apparently a bunch of other ideas they tried (see the Trivia tab), and one of them was to remake either Armageddon (1998) or The Day After Tomorrow with puppets. The idea was that the script of either movie was silly enough, and the movie would only improve if it was being filmed with Supermarionation.

This film provides examples of:

  • 10-Minute Retirement: Gary after the retaliatory attack on the Panama Canal, which he blames himself for.
  • Action Girl: Sarah and Lisa, especially the former.
  • Adaptational Dumbass: Played for laughs with Matt Damon. While by all indications a pretty thoughtful guy in real life, the puppet of him "came out looking retarded" in the manufacturing process per Trey Parker and Matt Stone's words, so they changed his personality to fit. In the film, he can only say his own name.
  • Affectionate Parody: Parker and Stone got the idea when they saw Thunderbirds in rerun for the first time, and learned that the Thunderbirds movie would not be using puppets.
  • All Love Is Unrequited: Joe has the hots for Sarah, who has the hots for Gary, who has the hots for Lisa, who initially refused to date a coworker after her previous fiancee was Killed In Action.
  • American Title: Of the subversive variety.
  • America Saves the Day: Fuck Yeah!
  • An Aesop: The whole point of the movie is to contrast what the film presents as pussies, dicks, and assholes. Team America is violent, stupid and dangerous, but the people who protest their actions in favor of diplomacy and peace are helpless without them before the likes of Kim Jong Il, who are violent and just cannot be reasoned with. Word of God compares it to cops being hated for making life difficult for normal people, but they are needed to keep the real criminals in line.
  • Analogy Backfire:
    Spottswoode: Remember, there's no "I" in "Team America".
    I.N.T.E.L.L.I.G.E.N.C.E.: Yes, there is!
  • Anti-Hero: Team America are Unscrupulous Heroes, causing large amounts of property damage on their missions and using lethal force on everyone in their way. Gary even admits that "pussies" need someone to call them out whenever they go too far.
  • Anvilicious: Played for Laughs in-universe with the Show Within a Show, Lease, a parody of RENT that builds itself around making the HIV/AIDS aspect of Rent's storyline feel significantly less subtle.
  • As Long as It Sounds Foreign: Parodied mercilessly. Everyone who isn't American has their language butchered.
    • The "Islamic" terrorists' vocabulary consists of: durka, durk, ha, sherpa, Allah, Muhammad, and jihad, and is simplistic enough to be spelled out in captions instead of just labeled as "gibberish" like the rest. One of the streets in Cairo is named "Bakalakadaka." The terrorists' home country is called Durkadurkistan.
    • The French are pretty much only saying "frère Jacques" over and over again, even when running away in fear.
    • The Panamanian people just say "no me gusta" while dying.
    • The North Korean MiG pilots scream "KAMSAHAMNIDA!" while exploding.note 
  • Asian Speekee Engrish: Kim Jong Il's Villain Song "I'm so Ronery".
  • Attack of the Killer Whatever: Kim's killer deadly panthers! D'aaaaaw.
  • Avoid the Dreaded G Rating: Inverted. The original cut received an NC-17 rating but a scene depicting graphic puppet sex was removed to ensure an R.
  • Bad-Guy Bar: The terrorist hangout in Cairo, Egypt, complete with the Cantina theme from A New Hope played backwards. A bar patron wears a gas mask that makes him resemble a character in the Cantina scene.
  • Balance of Power: The Aesop preaches the checks and balances of society with the "Dicks, Pussies and Assholes" analogy. Pussies need Dicks to stop Assholes, and Dicks need Pussies to call them out if they fuck too much or when it isn't appropriate.
  • Barbie Doll Anatomy: None of the puppets have nipples or genitalia, which is especially evident during Gary and Lisa's sex scene.
    • Subverted on the uncensored DVD, as Lisa definitely has nipples.
  • Beard of Sorrow: Gary gets some stubble when he goes off to drown his sorrows. Part of the Training Montage is dedicated to shaving it off.
  • Berserk Button: Apparently Kim's roneriness.
    Lisa: Having so little faith in humanity must make you a very lonely man.
    • More like "Worthy Enemy Button", since this was probably the first time anyone figured out his Freudian Excuse.
  • Big Bad: Kim Jong-il.
  • Big "NO!": Lisa's reaction to Carson's death in the beginning.
  • Black-and-Gray Morality: Lampshaded in the "dicks, pussies and assholes" speech. Team America, the "dicks" fight for good causes, protecting the innocents and serving justice to the evil, but can go too far. The "pussies", F.A.G. and the rest of the world, can tell when the "dicks" are out of line, but can become evil if they are too self-righteous. The "assholes"- Kim Jong Il and terrorists, are simply evil.
  • Black Comedy: Too soon for 9/11 or the perfect wakeup call for broken politics? You decide!
  • Black Comedy Rape: Chris' Freudian Excuse for why he hates actors. He was molested and raped by the cast of Cats.
  • Blatant Lies: Lisa would only have sex with Gary if he promised he wouldn't die.
    Gary: I promise! I will never die!
  • Blood from the Mouth: Carson when being shot in the Action Prologue. Gary after the Final Battle.
  • Book Ends: Lisa uses the "Terrorize this!" one-liner just before gunning down a terrorist in the opening battle in Paris. She uses it again when kicking Kim Jong-Il off the balcony.
  • Boom, Headshot!: How Kim Jong-Il murders his translator.
  • Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick:
    (Fuck Yeah!)
    (Fuck Yeah!)
    The Gap!
    (Fuck Yeah!)
    (Fuck Yeah!)
    (Fuck Yeah!)
    Rock 'n' Roll!
    (Fuck Yeah!)
    The Internet!
    (Fuck Yeah!)
  • British Teeth: Seen on the "BW" (a parody of The BBC) newsreader in a deleted scene.
  • Bullet Time: Parodied, it's not the cameras that revolve around the characters, it's the characters that stop in the air and turn around with the room standing still.
  • But Not Too Gay: When Gary performs fellatio on Spottswoode to show his loyalty, the homosexual action is essentially off-camera, with only Spottswoode's face visible; Spottswoode is fully dressed and his only reaction to the BJ is to blink once or twice; there are no sound effects suggestive of oral sex. In contrast, the heterosexual action between Gary and Lisa is stark ravin' nude, loud, physically acrobatic, and crosses into kinky (even more so in the DVD version) — and all of this is accompanied by a power ballad with lyrics that include: Only a woman / Is allowed to touch me there / All I ask is that you're a woman. Or a mayun...
  • Captain Obvious: Sarah's clairvoyance manifests as this.
    (as her aircraft is crashing into the sea) "I sense that I'm going down!"
    • Whenever it's not Captain Obvious, it's completely wrong. She senses that Gary's trapped inside the Cairo tavern, when he and the terrorists have escaped in a jeep.
  • Celebrity Casualty: Alec Baldwin gets shot by Kim Jong Il, Samuel L. Jackson gets decapitated, Michael Moore blows himself up, Matt Damon's neck is snapped, Susan Sarandon falls to her death, Tim Robbins is burnt to death, George Clooney is blown up by a grenade, etc. Kim Jong Il, who is the Big Bad, dies at the end of the movie, but reincarnates as a cockroach.
  • Censor Decoy: The explicit sex scene was thrown in entirely to distract the MPAA from the movie's other offensive elements. It worked perfectly. The film's original rating with the sex scene was NC-17. The theatrical cut only alters this scene to get the R.
    • When paired with the extremely tame and brief Gary/Spottswoode oral sex scene, the over-the-top Gary/Lisa sex scene may be interpreted as a satiric protest against the But Not Too Gay double standard.
  • Character Development: By the end, Gary successfully convinces Spottswoode that Team America doesn't always have to adopt a "blow everything to Kingdom Come" philosophy when dealing with terrorists. From the other end, Gary learns that running away or debating doesn't always fix a problem you might have and sometimes you do have to fight to protect the people and places you love. All of this is summed up in the "Dicks, Pussies and Assholes" speech Gary learned from the bum at the bar.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Gary's infamous "dicks, pussies and assholes" speech was first given to him by some random drunk after he quit the team.
    • Also, the German representative's pickelhaube.
  • Cleaning Up Romantic Loose Ends: In his Dying Speech, Carson tells Lisa to find someone else to love.
  • Cliché Storm: Intentional, and mocked constantly. invoked
  • Cluster F-Bomb: "America, Fuck Yeah!" is the most notable.
  • The Comically Serious: Everyone (except Kim, who's more outwardly silly). The characters sincerely act like they're in a summer blockbuster, which is undermined both by their absurd lines and the fact that they're very fake puppets. This even extends to the soundtrack: Parker instructed Harry Gregson-Williams to score the film as he would a serious action film. Highlights of this approach include:
    • Lisa: "Gary, you didn't kill your brother! Those gorillas did!".
    • Chris: "I was 19 years old when the musical Cats came to our town. I couldn't wait to see it. After the show I was asked if I wanted to go meet some of the performers backstage. Man, I was thrilled. But when I got back there, they were drunk and out of control. Rumpus Cat and Macavity kept feeling up my leg. I tried to leave, but, Rumpleteazer held me down, and... I was raped by Mr. Mistoffelees."
    • Gary: "9/11 times a hundred? Jesus, that's-" Spottswoode: "Yes. Ninety-one thousand one hundred."
  • Completely Unnecessary Translator: Kim Jong Il's translator, whom he kills in his first scene before spending the rest of the movie talking Engrish.
  • Cool Car/Boat/Plane: Team America's "Valmorphanizing" vehicles.
  • Cool Chair: Spotswoode's command chair, the sole function of which appears to be to slide from side to side in the most pointless way possible.
  • Covers Always Lie: One DVD cover of the movie shows a member of Team America with his back turned. At first, it could be mistaken for Gary but a closer look shows that his hairstyle is much closer to Chris', a secondary character. When you don't have the main character as the one on the front of the cover, it tends to be a bit of false advertising.
  • Credits Medley: Starts with America (Fuck Yeah!) then goes into every song used in the film.
  • Credits Montage: The musical version, including a stinger.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: Every member of F.A.G. has quite a gory death. Some highlights:
    • Susan Sarandon gets shot dozens of times by Gary, before tumbling off a tower and leaving blood and guts strewn on the pavement below.
    • Sean Penn and Danny Glover are mauled to death by "panthers", complete with a shot of Penn having his limbs graphically ripped off.
    • Tim Robbins is slowly burned to death when Chris flicks a cigarette on him while he's standing on a gas puddle.
    • Their leader, Alec Baldwin, isn't killed by Team America but rather Kim Jong-Il, who becomes furious at his inability to out-act Gary and pumps him full of lead until he blows off his head.
  • Culture Equals Costume: The delegates of the Peace Conference all wear national costumes.
  • Curse Cut Short: Subverted.
    Spottswoode: Jesus tittyfucking - [boom] CHRIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIST!
  • Cut His Heart Out with a Spoon: Chris has a penchant for this. Just two examples:
    Chris: I'll drill two holes through your dick so that when you pee it shoots out in all different directions.
    • and...
    Chris: If you betray us, I'll rip your fuckin' balls off and stuff them up your ass. So, the next time you shit, you'll shit all over your balls!
  • Cyanide Pill: Mocked. When Gary is being prepped for a mission, they somberly tell him that he might be captured and wish to take his own life. So they give him... a hammer.
  • Dark Reprise: America, Fuck Yeah (Bummer Remix).
  • Deconstructive Parody: Of Michael Bay movies, among other things.
  • Destructive Saviour: The reason Team America is so hated is because they fight terrorists, but in the process usually end up causing as much destruction as they tried to prevent. The mission in Cairo is what spurs the Film Actors Guild to take a stand against them in particular.
  • Dies Wide Open: Carson, after being struck down by a Last Breath Bullet in the Action Prologue, dies in Lisa's arms with his eyes wide open.
  • Disguised Hostage Gambit: Susan Sarandon pretends to be a prisoner, tied up for her dissent, to fool Team America. Gary sees through this, and Susan sheds the ropes and attacks, but doesn't do any damage without the element of surprise.
  • The Dragon: Alec Baldwin, to Kim Jong-Il's Big Bad. It's that kind of movie.
  • Dumb Blonde: Despite being the team's psychology expert and having the ability to pilot advanced aircraft, Lisa apparently thinks it's possible for someone to promise that they will never die.
  • Dying Declaration of Love: Defied when Joe tries to tell Sarah how he feels when they're trapped, but Sarah declares that she won't let things end this way.
  • Dystopia Justifies the Means: The end goal of "9/11 times 2356" is to turn every nation on Earth into a Third World Country by unleashing enough terrorist attacks to create worldwide chaos.
  • Eagleland: Essentially, the whole movie's purpose is parodying both Boorish and Beautiful flavors of this trope represented by the reckless and arrogant nature of Team America, and the naivete and self-righteous nature of Film Actors Guild.
  • The Ending Changes Everything: After the revelation that Kim is an alien cockroach, the movie goes from being about a team of dicks screwing everything up to stop an asshole, to being a movie about a team of dicks who are unknowingly fighting to save the earth from an alien invasion.
  • Ending Fatigue: Invoked in the Vomit Indiscretion Shot scene by having the music climax three times whenever Gary continues vomiting.
  • Enemy Mine: Inverted by the FAG, who side with the antagonist Kim Jong-Il, rather than the anti-heroes Team America.
  • Equal-Opportunity Offender: Neither conservatives nor liberals (or "dicks" and "pussies", if you prefer) come out of this film looking good. Basically the dicks use the "asshole" terrorists as an excuse to be dicks, and the pussies hate the dicks so much that they can be tricked into backing the even-worse-than-the-dicks assholes.
  • Evil Plan: Kim Jong-Il is planning "9/11...times two thousand, three hundred, and fifty six!" Yes, he is that cruel.
  • Fake-Out Opening: the very first shot of the film features two very low-quality, stilted-looking marionettes. After a few seconds — just long enough for the viewer to think the whole movie's going to look like that — they are revealed to be in-universe marionettes, being controlled by another character. The puppetry for the rest of the film has much higher production value (though is still deliberately coarse to some extent).
  • Fallen-on-Hard-Times Job: Gary, pride of the dinner-theater circuit.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Kim Jong-Il is supported and positively received by F.A.G. for organizing a peace ceremony, when behind the scenes he provides weapons of mass destruction to the terrorists and the ceremony is meant to distract the World Leaders as he sets off his world domination plan.
  • First-Name Basis: Apart from Gary Johnston, the rest of the team goes only by their first names. Only Spotswoode is on a Last-Name Basis.
  • Five-Man Band
  • Flat "What": Gary's reaction when Spotswoode tells him that he'll agree to trust him and let him back on the team, if Gary performs oral sex on him.
  • Foreshadowing: A deleted scene at the time of Gary's 10-Minute Retirement involved Joe complaining about Chris smoking, since it's bad for his health, only for Chris to assert that cigarettes "can save your life." Chris throwing his cigarette at some gasoline on the floor enables him to kill Tim Robbins, saving the team.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: Lots of little details are hidden in the film's vehicles and locations; the streets in France are paved with miniature croissants, Carson carries a fingernail clipper on his harness, a woman in Egypt carries goldfish in a basket on her head, and the Korean fighter jets have sailing-ship steering wheels and broken off gas pump handles in them, to name a few.
  • French Accordion: The movie's first scene is set in Paris (albeit one populated by puppets) and is accompanied by accordion music.
  • Freudian Excuse: Chris doesn't trust Gary (or actors in general) because when he was a teen he was gang-raped by the cast of Cats.
  • Friendless Background: Kim Jong Il's Freudian Excuse... and Villain Song!
  • Fun with Acronyms: Alec Baldwin loves to remind his fellow Film Actor Guild members they are FAGs. Team America's computer is named I.N.T.E.L.L.I.G.E.N.C.E. so they can remark how they have no I.N.T.E.L.L.I.G.E.N.C.E. when the power goes out. Also, when Spottswoode scolds the computer, saying, "That was bad, I.N.T.E.L.L.I.G.E.N.C.E! Very bad I.N.T.E.L.L.I.G.E.N.C.E!" it references the common belief that America got into the war in Iraq based on bad intelligence reports.
  • Future Copter: The team's deploys from the mouth of Abe Lincoln.
  • Groin Attack: Lisa finally puts an end to Kim Jong-Il by kicking him in the crotch, which sends him over the balcony to get Impaled with Extreme Prejudice on the helmet of the representative from Germany.
  • Guns Akimbo: Both Gary and Susan Sarandon draw and shoot submachine guns akimbo. Not that Susan hits anyone, though.
    • Gary is actually able to pull this off rather well during his rescue attempt, dispatching several soldiers in short order.
    • Tim Robbins wields two AK-47s akimbo. Again, they don't help him.
  • Half the Man He Used to Be: Sarah does this to Helen Hunt.
  • Hand Wave/Applied Phlebotinum: Parodied with "Valmorphanisation", used to describe seemingly every unlikely technology at the Team's disposal.
  • Heart Is an Awesome Power: Gary's acting skills are considered critical to the mission, especially when he sees through Susan Sarandon's ruse.
  • Hobbes Was Right: What Kim Jong-il believes in.
  • The Horseshoe Effect: The Film Actors Guild (who all preach non-violence, reason and peace) wind up working for Kim Jong-Il (who wants nothing more than to destroy everything and let the world descend into chaos) due to their mutual hatred of Team America. This is later lampshaded with "Dicks, Pussies and Assholes" analogy at the very end.
    Gary: ...sometimes Pussies can get so full of shit, they become Assholes themselves... because Pussies are only an inch and a half away from Assholes.
  • Hypocritical Humor:
    • A deleted scene has Spottswoode, lamenting that the disaster in Panama was a result of his failure to suspect the non-Middle Eastern Kim Jong-Il in the terrorist plot, promising he'll "never be racist again"... immediately after calling Kim a "goddamn gook".
    • Tim Robbins mocking Team America for "coming so close to stopping peace"... while pointing two AK-47s in their faces.
  • Idealized Sex: Absolutely Subverted. Not only is the sex deeply uncomfortable to watch, especially the uncensored DVD version that goes so far as to include scat, but the hero only gets it by blatantly lying to her.
  • If We Get Through This…: As a show of apologizing for being a Jerkass towards Gary, Chris offers to buy him a beer after they stop Kim Jong-Il's plans.
  • I'm Cold... So Cold...: Carson, Lisa's love interest, who gets killed in Paris, France.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Kim Jong-Il's demise. On the German representative's pickelhaube, no less.
  • Informed Ability:
    • Lisa is declared to be the team's psychologist. Apart from a single line of psychobabble, as well as a single moment later in the film where she correctly guesses at Kim's motivation, she largely sticks to shooting guns.
    • Gary's acting skills count, though this one falls somewhere between Rule of Funny and Suspension of Disbelief.
  • Insane Troll Logic: Gary comes back to the team homebase and finds it in ruins, with Spottswood planning to blow up Kim Jong-Il - and everyone/everything around him - before he can launch his plans for world domination. Gary pleads with Spottswood for a chance to rescue the team, but the latter informs him that the only way he can trust Gary with this mission ... is to perform oral sex on him. Why? Because that will "prove" to Spottswood that Gary will give 100% for the mission.
    • Insult Backfire: Of course, even the people who do recognize the satire in this song have taken on the phrase as an exclamation of patriotism.
      • Insult Misfire: say nothing of the people who just think the song is funny regardless of whether or not they get the irony or not.
  • Interchangeable Asian Cultures: Parodied. Pyongyang resembles a 16th century Japanese town, complete with an Osaka Castle lookalike standing in for Kim Jong-il's palace. Kim Jong-il sounds exactly like the City Wok guy and gets Lisa dressed up in a Qipao, which is a Manchu dress later adopted by the Chinese. He also has katanas strewn about his palace.
  • Irony: The lyrics to America Fuck Yeah in their entirety. If you listen to them casually, they sound very patriotic, but if you actually read the lyrics, they are brutally ripping on every Eagleland cliche in existence and in truth are actually pretty insulting.
  • Ivy League for Everyone: Intentionally subverted. When Team America is giving Gary the Team Member's dossiers, you expect everyone to be The Ace with top-tier and relevant education considering their secrecy and funds. Nope. Gary, the newest recruit, double-majored in theater and foreign languages at Iowa State University. Joe, the "natural-born leader", went to the University of Nebraska with an unknown major. Lisa majored in psychology at an unknown university, but presumably of similar quality to the latter two. These are good schools, mind, but they're relatively standard and nowhere close to the Ivy League level qualifications you'd expect from top agents, nor do they have anywhere near Ivy League levels of prestige. Meanwhile, Sarah went to the phony "Berkeley School of the Clairvoyant" in San Francisco, while Chris is only introduced as "the best martial-arts expert Detroit has to offer."
  • Japanese Ranguage: The Korean version. Kim Jong-Il talks like this constantly.
  • Jerkass: Chris, towards Gary, because of his hatred toward actors.
  • Killer Gorilla: Gary Johnston's saddest memory is the day when his brother fell into the gorilla enclosure in the zoo and got pummeled to death. Justified: he had blueberries in his pocket.
  • Kill It with Fire: Tim Robbins is put down by Chris throwing a lit cigarette on the gasoline he and the other actors were trying to douse Chris and Gary with earlier, incinerating him.
  • Know-Nothing Know-It-All: The Film Actors Guild believes themselves to be highly knowledgeable and compassionate intellectuals, but they're really just Stupid Good actors who have no idea how the world outside of Hollywood works.
    Tim Robbins: Let me explain to you how this works: you see, the corporations finance Team America, and then Team America goes out... and the corporations sit there in their... in their corporation buildings, and... and, and see, they're all corporation-y... and they make money.
  • Landmarking the Hidden Base: Team America's headquarters is located inside Mount Rushmore.
    • Subverted in the fact that when a group wants to protest them, they can show up at outside the monument and then inside the hangar.
  • Last Breath Bullet: Carson is mortally wounded after being shot by a seemingly dead terrorist in the film's opening.
  • Latex Perfection: Gary reveals himself to his captured friends when he takes off a rubber mask he used to pass as a North Korean guard.
  • Like Brother and Sister: Sarah's response upon learning that Joe "has feelings for her".
    Joe: That's all I ever am! Like a brother!!
  • Literal-Minded:
    Gary: Okay, a flying I have seen everything.
    Spottswoode: Have you ever seen a man eat his own head?
  • The Living Dead: Kim Jong-Il's statue is actually an actor made up to look like a statue. You can see the actor breathing if you look closely.
  • "London, England" Syndrome:
    • Whenever they change location, a subtitle points out its distance to America. "Paris: 3635 Miles East of America." (It's actually the distance to New York).
    • Panama is simply located "south from the real America".
  • Love Dodecahedron: Carson and Lisa loved each other, but Carson got killed and tells Lisa to find someone who will love her as much as he did. Gary and Lisa fall for each other, but Sarah falls for Gary and Joe falls for Sarah. And then Gary has to perform oral sex on Spotswoode to get back onto the team.
    • That wasn't about sex, it was about trust!
  • Lyrical Dissonance: Played with "The End of an Act". The melody and scene it accompanies is very sad and 15% of its lyrics are appropriately about Gary missing Lisa. The thing is that the other 85% of the lyrics are about ripping apart Pearl Harbor.
  • Macross Missile Massacre: The desert Chase Scene.
  • Magic Bullets: Sarah enters the Egyptian bar wielding a Gatling gun, and somehow manages to machine-gun every terrorist while leaving all the innocent bystanders intact.
  • Meaningful Name: Although not necessarily gay, Spottswoode evidently has some homoerotic fascination with getting oral sex from another man — and "spots wood" = "notices an erection."
  • Mega Neko: Kim Jong-Il's panthers are enormous compared to the puppet characters (they're played by actual domestic house cats).
  • Metaphorgotten: As Gary drives away on a motorcycle, what is supposed to be a tragic love ballad ends up stuck rambling about Pearl Harbor.
  • Mistakenly Attacked Mole: Gary, the newest member of the counterintelligence team, goes undercover to try to uncover the terrorist plot. While undercover, his teammates mistake him for an actual terrorist despite his Paper-Thin Disguise and nearly kill him during a Chase Scene.
  • Monster Suit: Kim Jong-Il is actually an alien cockroach. Once his plans are ruined, the insect crawls out of Kim Jong-Il's mouth and flies away in a miniature shuttle. A credits-only song gives more background story to this: apparently his planet is also inhabited by alien bees, who the cockroaches are in war with and Kim was sent to Earth to nuke it so that the cockroaches could move there.
  • Mooks: Terrorists, KPA soldiers, and F.A.G. members. The latter are a special case: they function exactly like Mooks, but every one of them is a named celebrity, making them something like sympathy-flipped meta Mauve Shirts.
  • Monumental Battle: Every action scene.
  • Monumental Damage: The Eiffel Tower falls over and smashes the Arc de Triomphe, and Team America blows up the Louvre because a terrorist ran inside. Later, the team blows up one of the Pyramids, the Valley of the Kings tomb, and the Sphinx. Still later, Michael Moore blows up Mount Rushmore and the Panama Canal is destroyed.
  • Mook–Face Turn: Subverted with Susan Sarandon, who claims to have been tied up when she refused to go along with the plan. It turns out she just wanted to lure the heroes close enough that she could kill them with machine guns, but Gary saw through her acting.
  • More Dakka: Almost every gun fired anywhere in the movie is a fully automatic, with only few exceptions.
    • As a rather odd case, a terrorist in the Cairo Bad-Guy Bar is shown firing an SKS carbine fully-automatic.
  • My Country Tis of Thee That I Sting: The American anti-terrorism squad is being portrayed as causing more damage to other countries than actually helping them. An important story arc too, as Gary is shocked by their actions and refuses to help his country any longer. However, the film also made a jab at this mindset with members of Film Actors Guild being portrayed as self-righteous stooges who are dumb enough to put an evil dictator like Kim Jong Il as the host for World Peace without realizing his real intent to devastate entire civilization despite their good (if naive) intentions.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Gary's acting killed his brother, and then caused the death of thousands.
  • Name Order Confusion: Hans Blix calls Kim Jong-Il "Mr. Il". It should be "Mr. Kim".
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: A recurring gag is that Team America, in an effort to stop terrorists, wind-up destroying the area they were supposed to protect way worse than what the terrorists may have planned, such as Paris and Cairo. This is generally the reason why the general public hates them so much.
  • Not-So-Phony Psychic: Sarah. Throughout the film she makes simple, obvious assumptions (or reasonable but incorrect guesses) in a Pstandard Psychic Pstance. At the climax, despite Joe admitting that the team was just humoring her claims of psychic abilities, she uses a genuine Jedi Mind Trick to turn Kim Jong Il's "deadly panthers" on their captors. And it is awesome.
  • Obliviously Evil: The F.A.G. toward the end.
  • Oh, Crap!: Or "Jesus Titty-Fucking CHRIIIIIIIIST!"
    • Kim Jong-il's translator also gets one:
    "He asks what part of the deal you did not understand. He says perhaps his translator did not make it clear to you. He says he should... fire his ...translator?"
  • The One Thing I Don't Hate About You: While Gary sings an entire song roasting the hell out of Pearl Harbor, he admits to liking Cuba Gooding Jr.'s character and wishing he had a bigger part.
  • One-Woman Wail: During the scene after the Panama Canal is destroyed and everyone drowns.
  • Overly-Long Gag: The Vomit Indiscretion Shot, and the original/uncensored cut of the sex scene.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: Gary is given complex surgery that involves lasers and syringes and handsaws yet comes out looking like he's simply in Blackface with bits of curly hair glued onto him. When infiltrating the terrorist tavern, he wears a towel on his head and the same clothes he's been wearing since the film started. Naturally, he fools everyone, and even his own team mates fail to recognize him later on, even though they knew what his disguise looked like.
  • Parody: The play "LEASE" with its theme song "Everyone has AIDS" is a parody of RENT.
  • Patriotic Fervor:
    • Team America's vehicles are covered in red, white, and blue, their base is in Mount Rushmore, and their logo depicts an eagle posed against the backdrop of an American flag with a globe clenched in its beak.
    • "America, Fuck Yeah!", which extols the virtues of everything American such as baseball, Disney, Wal-Mart, and Popeye, also includes non-American products like sushi. Though, considering one of the lines is "Immigrants (fuck yeah!)", it could be seen as a stealthy reference to America's multicultural history.
  • Perfectly Cromulent Word: "Valmorphanize" and its variants, referring to any use of Applied Phlebotinum.
  • Pokémon Speak: MATT DAMON!
  • The Power of Acting: Why Gary got hired. Turns out that when he's confident enough, he can pull off Jedi Mind Tricks, defend others from the same, and pull them on several hundred people at a time.
  • Power of Trust: Gary has to prove his dedication to the team to Spottswoode to be allowed back after performing oral sex on him.
  • Protagonist-Centered Morality: The main theme of this film, as it explores and makes a case for My Country, Right or Wrong.
  • Psychopathic Manchild: Played for laughs with Kim Jong-Il, where a good chunk of his appearances have him throwing tantrums for one reason or another.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: The first two lines of the theme song.
  • Qurac: Parodied, of course; the terrorists are based in a country called, wait for it, "Derkaderkastan".
  • Race Against the Clock: Kim Jong-Il sets the WMDs on a five-minute timer at the film's climax.
  • Reality Is Unrealistic: Kim Jong-Il argues that there are no clichéd happy endings because they live in the real world ...and then starts a 5-minute coundown that the Big Damn Heroes stop.
    Kim Jong Il: You see, no Prince Charming rode in on a white stallion to save the day. This is the real world. I'm afraid your world is over! five minutes.
    • The filmmakers intentionally designed non-American locations to look like what Americans might assume those places to look like. All of France's monuments are within walking distance of each other, and citizens of Cairo all dress like they're in Aladdin.
  • Repeat Cut: Used when Kim Jong-Il shoots Alec Baldwin in the head.
  • Rousing Speech: Gary's Big Speech that changes the mind of everyone in the stadium.
    Gary: We're dicks! We're reckless, arrogant, stupid dicks! And the Film Actors Guild are pussies. Kim Jong Il is an asshole. Pussies don’t like dicks, because pussies get fucked by dicks. But dicks also fuck assholes. Assholes that just want to shit on everything. Pussies may think they can deal with assholes their way. But the only thing that can fuck an asshole is dick with some balls. The problem with dicks is that they fuck too much or fuck when it's not appropriate. And it takes a pussy to show them that. But sometimes pussies can be so full of shit that they become assholes themselves. Because pussies are an inch and half away from assholes. I don’t know much about this crazy crazy world, but I do know this: if you don’t let us fuck this asshole, we're going to have our dicks and pussies all covered in shit!
  • Self-Plagiarism: Trey and Matt wrote the "Montage" song for a South Park episode, but it ended up here.
  • Sequel Hook: An obvious onenote , however, Stone and Parker don't want to touch marionettes anymore, and the movie, while not a bust, fared quite poorly.
  • Shout-Out. Tons of them, such as Gary starring in a Broadway production of Lease which concludes with a song about how "Everyone has AIDS".
  • Slurpasaur: See Mega Neko. Also, a Shark Pool is stocked with nurse sharks.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: Kim Jong-Il.
    Why is everyone so fucking stupid? Why aren't more people interrigent, rike me?
  • Show, Don't Tell: Parodied. Sarah and Lisa are supposed to be good friends, but hardly share a scene. To "compensate", they just awkwardly say "I treasure your friendship" at the end of every conversation. Chris says it to Gary at the end, too.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: The vomiting scene, which wouldn't be half as funny without the swelling violin music.
    • Hand-to-hand combat scenes combine a high-octane riff with what is fundamentally two marionettes flailing uncontrollably.
  • Spiritual Successor: To the show that inspired it: Thunderbirds. Made funnier by the fact that a live-action Thunderbirds movie came out the same year.
    • Gerry Anderson liked this movie (except for the profanity in the dialogue) and said that it is FAR closer in spirit to Thunderbirds than the live action movie was.
    • Team America is also reminiscent to another show that features marionettes, known as Super Adventure Team, which also features raunchy adult humor, and even one of the voice actors, interestingly enough.
  • Stealth Pun: Gary wrapped a bath towel around his head as part of his "disguise" as a Muslim terrorist. He's a Towelhead.
  • Stock Scream: Wilhelm fell... AGAIN!
  • Straw Character: Team America are gung-ho, collateral-causing Straw Conservatives taking on Michael Moore and the Film Actor's Guild who are Stupid Good Straw Liberals who are unknowingly helping tyrants and terrorists.
  • Strongly Worded Letter: Hans Brix threatens Kim Jong-il with this.
    Hans Blix: I'm sorry, but the UN must be firm with you. Let me see your whole palace, or else!
    Kim Jong-il: Or erse what?
    Hans Blix: Or else we will be very, very angry with you... And we will write you a letter, telling you how angry we are.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: They usually blow up most of the city they're trying to save in the process.
    • Exaggerated in the opening credits, which themselves explode... followed by the entire planet exploding.
  • Stupid Good: A dark variant; the Film Actors Guild is composed of celebrities who believe Team America is bad for world peace and want to help the countries unite. However, their blind devotion to world peace allows Kim Jong-Il to manipulate them. They have the ambition for peace but they lack the actual skills, qualities, and abilities to properly see it through.
  • Stylistic Suck: Most of the movie, but particularly the opening puppet show. This was done to freak out the financers (the story goes that one of them yelled "My god, they fucked us!")... but then the camera pans back to show the crude puppet and backdrop are part of a rather more sophisticated puppet's performance. Some of the DVD extras reveal that the puppeteers were actually capable of even more complex and realistic puppetry than is seen in the movie, though at times it is deliberately done overly simply, partly because it was simply funnier, and partly because overly realistic puppets can be creepy, which they wanted to avoid.
  • Suddenly Shouting: When a depressed Gary is at a bar, hungover and depressed, he gets spotted by a fan who asks him to sing. Gary replies, in a low and depressed voice, that he doesn’t do that anymore, he gave that up, and stop bothering. When this fan continues to beg him to do a scene, Gary shouts, “I SAID GET AWAY FROM ME!” scaring the pedestrian to quickly leave.
  • Surrounded by Idiots: Kim Jong-Il's song "I'm So Ronery".
    "Why is everyone so fucking stupid? Why aren't more people interrigent, rike me?"
  • Take That!: Well, yeah.
    • For some reason, Stone and Parker are extremely cruel to Susan Sarandon in particular.
    • And Matt Damon. According to the IMDB trivia page for this film, they wanted to portray Damon as intelligent and articulate (or at least capable of saying more than his own name), but chose not to do so because his puppet "looked retarded". Damon himself apparently thought it was hilarious, and wished that they'd asked him to do the voice work.
    • Sean Penn was infamously so angry with his portrayal in the movie that he wrote an "angry letter" to Stone and Parker over it, signing it with "All the best, and a sincere fuck you".
    • Tim Robbins said in an interview that he wanted to frame the burnt, injured puppet of himself and put on his wall.
    • Parker and Stone had a particular beef with Michael Moore and took it out on his character. Specifically, Moore made it seem like they'd done an animation for one of his documentaries (Bowling for Columbine) that was in favor of his position. They didn't, and they weren't. In fact, for the scene where Moore explodes himself in a suicide attack, they stuffed his puppet with ham.
    • The movie Pearl Harbor also gets it pretty hard (there's a whole song pretty much detailing all the ways it - and Ben Affleck - sucked).
    • A deleted scene shows Ben Affleck wasn't given a proper marionette. His head is just a hand.
    • Besides his credits-only song detailing all the ways in which Alec Baldwin is worthless, Kim Jong-Il gets in a Stealth Insult when explaining the timing of his plan to Lisa - "When you see Alec Baldwin, you'll see the true ugliness of human nature."
    • Many fans believed that of all the people to get a Take That! it would be President George W. Bush, due to public opinion starting to turn against him in the fallout of the Iraq War. However, in an interview, Trey and Matt said they very intentionally chose to leave out Bush entirely from the movie, both as an anti-joke to expectations and due to the fact that Bush had been parodied hundreds of times already.
    • The male chorus enthusiastically joins in with a proud, patriotic "FUCK YEAH!" for every verse of the title song "America, Fuck Yeah"...except for the verses "Sportsmanship" and "Books", on which they remain dead silent. (There are, however, a few scattered and muffled but clearly heartfelt "Fuck yeah"s for "Bed, Bath and Beyond" and "Republicans".)
    • Hans Blix, and by extension the United Nations, are depicted as hopelessly incompetent bureaucrats who are incapable of doing anything meaningful to prevent global conflicts other than write Strongly Worded Letters.
  • Television Geography: Done on purpose. Any country that isn't America has all of its landmarks within blast radius.
    • To the degree that the Eiffel Tower can fall over and land upon the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.
  • Theme Music Power-Up: America (Fuck Yeah!) plays when the team goes into action.
  • There Are Two Kinds of People in the World: Well, three: Dicks (who fuck everything), Pussies (who get fucked by everything), and Assholes (who shit on everything).
    • It seems that Parker and Stone are a bit more "ha ha only serious" than they originally let on; you can see the same speech given by a conservative blogger, Bill Whittle. He calls it TRIBES, and the three groups are "sheepdogs (protect sheep, attack wolves)", "sheep (protected by sheepdogs, attacked by wolves)" and "wolves (attack everyone)", respectively, but it's the same basic idea.
    • This is also a standard US response to accusations of imperialism: Namely, that no matter how bad some might consider the American government, there's always someone worse; and that while said government's behavior is a long way from perfect, it does allow the rest of the world to continue on in relative normalcy, which would be considered uncertain if another country gained preeminence.
  • There Is No Kill like Overkill: Often using missiles to destroy lone terrorists. Which usually blows up the city as well.
  • This Is Reality: Subverted with Kim Jong-il when he's about to activate the bombs.
    Kim Jong Il: You see, no Prince Charming rode in on a white stallion to save the day. This is the real world. I'm afraid your world is over! five minutes.
  • Training Montage: Lampshaded, musically.
  • Trap Door: Kim's preferred method of dealing with nuisances and ball-breakers.
  • Trash the Set: Every miniature set is either blown up or damaged beyond repair over the course of the movie. Trey Parker claimed that this was because he wanted to really use the sets as much as possible so they wouldn't just collect dust in a warehouse forever.
  • Try Not to Die: Parodied to the point of becoming a Running Gag.
  • The Unintelligible: Kim Jong-Il's accent sometimes renders his speech this way.
  • Unwitting Pawn: The FAG - initially at least, though they gradually transition from useful idiots to out-and-out villains.
  • [Verb] This!: "Hey, Terrorist! Terrorize THIS!"
  • Villainous Breakdown: Kim Jong Il has one after Gary's speech turns the delegation against him.
  • Villain Song: "I'm so Ronery", which also counts as a Villainous Lament.
  • Visual Punny Name: On Lisa's Team America business card (when she's giving it to Gary), the L and the I of Lisa are closer together than the other letters, making LISA look like USA.
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: Absolutely intentional and takes up 60 seconds of screen time. There are several points where it seems like it's over, only to suddenly continue harder.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?:
    • Baxter doesn't show up and is never even brought up again after Michael Moore destroys the Team America HQ, the fact there's no confirmation of his death leaves his fate ambiguous.
    • Of the members of the Film Actors Guild whom are fighting Team America, Martin Sheen is seen being knocked offscreen by Joe. It is unknown what happened to him after this.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Most of the team's reaction to Gary coming back after his 10-Minute Retirement. The F.A.G. also gets in on this from time to time, and Gary points out that they're sometimes right.
  • Wimp Fight: Fight scenes consist of two marionettes flailing arms and limbs for about ten seconds before one of them abruptly stops moving and the other declares victory.
  • Wisdom from the Gutter: Gary's iconic "Dicks, Pussies and Assholes" analogy was given to him by a random drunk at a bar.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Kim Jong Il. He's plotting the destruction of society as we know it, but deep down, he's just "a rittre ronery" (read: little lonely).
  • World of Ham: Everyone is prone to shouting and melodrama. Played for Laughs, naturally.
  • You Have Failed Me: Kim shoots Alec Baldwin after the latter fails to "out-act" Gary.


Team America

Team America stops terrorists in Paris and Cairo ... and destroys every monument in sight.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (22 votes)

Example of:

Main / DestructiveSaviour

Media sources: