Depending on who you ask, Team America: World Police is either a satirical pastiche of action movie tropes and clichés, or a stupid puppet movie full of swearing and dick jokes. Regardless of your opinions on the film, you have to admit that its kind of impressive that they even managed to get funding for a puppet action movie, and boy did they get a lot of funding.
As noted above, when Matt Stone and Trey Parker first pitched the idea of a satirized big-budget action movie where all of the characters, except Matt Damon, would be played by puppets bearing their likeness, Paramount told them that the idea would never work, that it’d never make money and that nobody would go see it. Without missing a step, Stone and Parker told Paramount executives that they’d said almost the exact same thing about “an R-rated animated musical” and South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut which we have only right this second realised is actually a penis joke, ended up making the studio a fortune and got an Oscar nod for its soundtrack. Faced with the information that Stone and Parker might actually know what the fuck they were doing, the studio cut the pair a cheque, which they of course, spent in its entirety.
Even though the film itself was deliberately made to look sort-of shitty as a send-up to old puppet shows like Thunderbirds, the amount of money that went into some of the film’s props and sets is actually kind of stupid. For starters, all of the weapons wielded by the eponymous Team America cost hundreds of dollars to produce. A single, miniature UZI for example reportedly cost $1000, which is kind of unreal when you consider that for the same amount of money, you could buy a real UZI with enough money left over to buy another fucking UZI.
But by far the most expensive thing on set were the puppets themselves, which along with costing thousands of dollars a piece to produce, were outfitted with hand-made clothing and accessories that cost more than a back-seat full of Air Jordans to create. For example, it’s noted by the LA Times that the puppet version of the pint-sized dictator, Kim Jong-il was walking around wearing a pair of glasses that featured “hand-ground prescription lenses” something nobody noticed or even cared about because the puppet they were attached to looked like this.
If you’re curious as to why Stone and Parker felt that their puppet version of the Dear Leader absolutely had to rock a 300 dollar pair of glasses, the answer is the same reason they spent thousands of dollars making teeny tiny guns, because they fucking could. All in the pair had around 32 million dollars to play around with when making the movie, a figure that was originally supposed to be 25 million until the pair collectively decided to waive their directors fee in lieu of more money.
As a result, they decided to spend as much as humanely possible on the stupidest details just to see if they could get away with it. This is why virtually all of the film’s stunts were accomplished with practical effects instead of CGI, the duo just wanted to blow stuff up and they had millions of dollars with which to make that dream happen.
But the fun didn’t stop there, when the pair were editing the movie, the purposely sent multiple, incredibly graphic cuts of the film’s puppet sex scene to censors, just because they liked the idea of some poor sap working for the MPAA being forced to watch a “close-up of a puppet’s asshole“.
Which is the image we want to leave you with today.