Team America: World Police (2004) Poster


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The very first footage screened for Paramount executives was of a poorly crafted puppet in front of a background of a badly drawn Eiffel Tower, prompting one executive in the audience to yell, "Oh God, they fucked us!" This was a prank pulled by the directors and the shot then pulls back to reveal a highly refined marionette manipulating the inferior one, then flies over beautifully detailed Parisian landscape full of believable yet cheesy marionettes. This actually ended up being the opening shot of the movie.
All the background foliage in the Panama sequence is cannabis plants.
Originally, Matt Damon (who Trey Parker and Matt Stone have admitted is really a "pretty cool guy") was going to be portrayed as intelligent and articulate, but when they saw the puppet, they noted that it made him "look retarded" and decided to portray him as such.
As a subtle detail in the opening scene in Paris, the streets are paved with croissants.
Paramount immediately greenlighted the idea of making a puppet movie, in the mistaken belief that it would be cheaper than a live action film.
The statue in Kim Jong-il's palace is actually a human in heavy makeup. In the first scene in which he appears, you can see his eyes blinking.
Matt Stone was interviewed by Michael Moore for his film Bowling for Columbine (2002) because he grew up near the infamous school. However, he was very unhappy about the animated section of his film, believing that Moore had intentionally left the impression that he and Parker had made it. For that reason, Michael Moore was portrayed in an amusingly negative fashion in Team America: World Police (2004).
George Clooney was a driving force in getting Matt Stone and Trey Parker's South Park (1997) to air. He also appeared in the show and the subsequent movie. As to their puppetry portrayal in Team America: World Police (2004), both he and Matt Damon are quoted as saying they would have been offended if they weren't in the film.
Alec Baldwin claims that he enjoys people joking with him on the street, saying "You are useless Alec Baldwin", as a result of the film, to which he replies "Back at you Kim."
Matt Stone and Trey Parker had to rewrite the script several times before they reached something that was doable with puppets. When questions to a possible sequel were raised, they said that there was no way they were ever going to work with puppets again.
Despite almost getting an NC-17 rating in the United States, the film was promoted as a "kids and family" movie in several European countries, and rated fit for all accordingly.
Matt Stone vowed never to make another film with partner Trey Parker, such was the stresses and strains of working with him. The two worked together 17 hours a day, seven days a week up until three days before the film actually opened.
In the overhead shot of Gary lying in the giant puddle of vomit, it is actually Trey Parker wearing a pair of fake legs so his proportions more closely match those of the marionettes. The "vomit" was a mixture of soup and beer.
When the Film Actors Guild decides to go to North Korea, the members all shout "Qapla!" which is Klingon for success.
When the camera first shows us the palace in North Korea, several of the smaller buildings are actually Chinese food take-out boxes.
Initially Trey Parker and Matt Stone flirted with the idea of incorporating puppets of George W. Bush and John Kerry but ultimately decided that the politics would get in the way of their comedic story.
Due to a puppet sex-scene, the movie was given a NC-17 Rating by the MPAA. The scene was edited nine times before they received the R rating they were shooting for. Trey Parker later admitted that the scene was originally added to distract the MPAA from the rest of the film's subject matter. On Matt Stone's urging, the scene was reinstated to the "unrated" DVD.
In the style of the Thunderbirds (1965) show which the movie is a spoof of, close up shots of hands were not puppet hands but rather real hands dressed up to look like puppet hands.
When Lisa is at the Peace Ceremony with Kim Jong-il, Her hair sticks are in fact matches.
Household objects were used as props in order to, according to Trey Parker and Matt Stone, remind the audience the actual size of the puppets. A pair of nail clippers can be seen on a Team America's utility belt in their first scene; in Cairo, a citizen is carrying a basket of Goldfish snacks on his head; and a set of palm trees have leaves made out of dollar bills.
North Korea's embassy in Prague demanded that the film be banned in the Czech Republic, saying the movie harmed their country's reputation.
The MPAA gave this film an R rating, accompanied with the specific explanation "For graphic crude and sexual humor, violent images and strong language - all involving puppets."
The leaves on the palm trees in Hollywood during the F.A.G. meeting are made out of dollar bills.
When Trey Parker and Matt Stone showed the first footage of the film at the 2004 San Diego Comic Convention, it began with the tagline (words flying at the screen) "Alec Baldwin, George Clooney, Janeane Garofalo, Susan Sarandon, Tim Robbins, Sean Penn, Michael Moore, George W. Bush, John Kerry, Kim Jong-Il .... will all HATE this movie!" A teaser trailer shown in theaters used an even longer list of names.
Most of the Korean spoken in the movie is not Korean, but rather Asian-sounding gibberish. Three exceptions are
  • 1) When the North Korean soldier is torturing one of the team members, he is saying, "Die, you bastard."
  • 2) When Kim Jong-il tells his soldiers to salvage Team America's planes after the ambush, the soldiers reply with, "Yeh," which is "Yes".
  • 3) When Gary enters the North Korean palace, the North Korean soldiers are shouting, "Who are you, you bastard?"
Alec Baldwin reportedly found the project very amusing.
Bill Pope agreed to be the movie's director of photography because he was looking for "something completely different" from his previous three movies, The Matrix Reloaded (2003), The Matrix Revolutions (2003), and Spider-Man 2 (2004), all of which contained large portions filmed in front of blue/green screens.
All of the puppets in the movie used the same two bodies (one for the males and one for the females) with different heads- except for Kim Jong Il, to make him look that much smaller.
In the Russian Federation the movie is being shown translated by Dmitry Puchkov, a famous independent translator. All obscenities are translated to Russian obscenities, which is very unusual for movie translations in Russia. The movie has a Russian rating "Not for people less than 18 ages old."
Before Trey Parker and Matt Stone settled on the final plot for this film, one of their original ideas was to do an all-puppet version of The Day After Tomorrow (2004). They had been given a copy of the script and thought it was already funny as was; but thought that if they were to make it into an all-puppet movie then it would substantially funnier. The main reason why this idea never came to fruition was because of legal problems with the studio who owned the rights to the film.
The Team America male puppets have the tails side of an American Susan B. Anthony one dollar coin on the front of their belts.
After the flooding scene in Panama, the puppets that were "drowned" had to be literally wrung out and dried so that they could be used in the next scenes.
Sean Penn was so insulted by the filmmakers' suggestion that there was "no shame in not voting" that he wrote an angry letter to Matt Stone and Trey Parker with the closing "a sincere fuck you, Sean Penn."
The computer screen that Kim Jong Il uses at the peace ceremony is labeled in Korean. The buttons, from left to right, approximately translate to "Reveal, please"*, "Detonate, please"*, and "Cancel". Directly below the screen is a label which accurately translates to "Master Plan". *one of the characters in each of these does not appear in the Korean alphabet.
In the song "America, Fuck Yeah", the word "fuck" is used 37 times.
During the Alec Baldwin and Gary Johnston scene on stage at Kim Jong-il's palace, in some shots the screens at either side of the stage show footage of the real Alec Baldwin in a tux, and Trey Parker recording the voice over.
The idea for the film came in 2003 when Matt Stone and Trey Parker were watching television and came across re-runs episodes of Thunderbirds (1965), which Parker had never seen. Instantly intrigued, the two decided a marionette action film would be "the perfect way to send up all those Jerry Bruckheimer movies."
Several references to Star Wars (1977) are made in the film, including a recreation of the Mos Eisely cantina scene when Gary walks into the Cairo bar, and the assault on the Death Star when Team America is engaged in an airborne dogfight with the North Koreans.
A billboard in Times Square reads "Chiodo: You Go Now." The Chiodo Brothers are responsible for the puppets seen in the film.
Matt Stone referred to the puppet technique used in the film as "supercrappymation".
Cinematographer Bill Pope was thrilled to work on the film, having spent the previous few years working with green screens for the Matrix trilogy. He said it was "like shooting a regular movie, except I'm 18ft tall."
The language the terrorists speak is not Arabic but gibberish with the names, "Mohammed," "Allah," "Jihad," and "Mohammed Ali" said to make the language sound more Middle Eastern. Oddly enough the villagers in Cairo speak real Arabic.
Over 100 sets were built for the film.
Thunderbirds creator Gerry Anderson was due to meet with the film's directors but they canceled the meeting, thinking that Anderson would object to the film's expletives. In retrospect, this was a wise decision. Anderson is on record as saying "there are good, fun parts [in the film] but the language wasn't to [his] liking".
All of the male puppet heads consist of nine different servo motors that control the various facial expressions/actions, while the female heads consist of seven in the head and two in the back.
911 times 2,356 is 2,146,316
Kim Jong-il - a world famous film buff - has never publicly commented on the film, in which he has a highly prominent role.
The original idea was to do a puppet version of The Day After Tomorrow (2004), to be released concurrently with Roland Emmerich's film. Matt Stone and Trey Parker were talked out of the idea by lawyers.
Team America first meets Gary performing in a play called "Lease", an obvious parody of the popular broadway musical Rent in which several of the characters are struggling with AIDS.
In the opening sequence in Paris when the Team America vehicle slides into a vendor, there are actually pawn chess pieces along the road.
Samuel L. Jackson tells Chris "C'mon, stop trying to hit me and hit me" which is a line from The Matrix. Samuel L. Jackson is often mistaken for that film's star, Laurence Fishburne.
During the palace scene, when the camera pans across the audience, some of the people near the sides and in the back appear to be 2D cardboard cut-outs.
During the attack on the Panama Canal, the puppets repeat the line "No me gusta" which is Spanish for "I don't like it."
When Team America arrives in Cairo, the woman in the grey dress with a black mask has what looks like to be oranges in a basket on her head. These are actually goldfish.
Marc Shaiman composed songs and a score for the movie, but the score was rejected by Paramount execs about three and a half weeks before the movie was released. Harry Gregson-Williams was hired to rewrite the score and compose it at the 11th hour. Shaiman's songs, however, still remain in the finished film.
Bill Pope had planned on shooting the film with anamorphic lenses in order to replicate the classic "action film look", but was unable to because there were no anamorphic lenses available that could focus close enough to the puppets.
For the voice of Spottswoode, Daran Norris imitates the voice of Charlton Heston.
WILHELM SCREAM: From the Korean guard in the high balcony that Gary shoots when he first walks into Kim Jong Il's palace and says, "Don't worry fellas, I've got my pass right here!"
In the opening scene in Paris, the Mime resembles Trey Parker.
The motorcycle that the puppet Gary Johnston rides is a remote control red Harley Davidson VRSC, available in toy stores.
Although his score was rejected by Paramount,Marc Shaiman still conducted the orchestra in the film's scoring session.
Above the front entrance of the Film Actors' Guild building there are two quotes on acting by two equally famous poets of theater. On the left side is William Shakespeare's famous quote, "All the world's a stage and we are merely actors in it." On the right is satirical poet Alexander Pope's quote, "Act well your part, therein all honor lies."
When Team America arrives in Cairo and they are moving to the tavern, there is a mosque in the background. This is the Mohammad Ali mosque (aka the Alabaster Mosque) in Cairo.
This is the first movie by Trey Parker and Matt Stone to get under an "18" rating in the Republic of Ireland.
According in an interview with Steve Jablonsky one of the co-composers of the music, he and the others wrote and recorded the score in 8 days.
The opening Paris sequence involved 18 separate puppets.
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While Gary Johnston is talking to the guards outside the blue door to the tavern in Cairo, a Coca Cola sign in Arabic, Lucky Strike, Camel Cigarettes and Pale Ale Sahara can be seen on the tavern's walls directly behind the guards.
Released almost three months the same year after Jonathan Frakes's live-action adaptation of Thunderbirds.
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When the terrorist is seen by the little French kid, we hear Turkish music - it's a song about a girl whom the singer fell in love with.
The song about 'montage' can also be heard in Season 6 Episode 2 : Asspen of South Park created by the same creators of Team America.
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When Gary Johnston walks to the tavern in Cairo disguised as a Terrorist, in the background there is a "Coca-Cola" bottle cap mounted against a stone wall.
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Sean Penn has actually been to Iraq.
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The fight between Chris and Samuel L. Jackson parodies The Matrix, which Director of Photography Bill Pope also worked on.
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The trivia items below may give away important plot points.

The Michael Moore puppet was stuffed with ham before it was blown up.
In one point in the movie Kim Jong il says "You're breaking my balls here" which in South Park created by Trey Parker and Matt Stone, Eric Cartman uses a lot in episode Kenny Dies season 05 EP13

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