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Face-Off: Team America: World Police vs. Sausage Party

Nice to see you again, fans of the cinema! This is the Face-Off, where two movies enter and both movies leave, but one leaves in a slightly better light. Yes, here we take two competitors and compare their key elements and see who comes out the champion. It's a fierce competition that results in blood, tears, and online arguments, but the more brutal the battle, the sweeter the victory.

To mark the release of the upcoming R-rated puppet movie THE HAPPYTIME MURDERS, we will be digging into two other movies that used traditionally child-geared styles to tell stories filled with violence, sex, and all manner of crudeness: It's TEAM AMERICA: WORLD POLICE vs. SAUSAGE PARTY.

The 2004 cult hit from Trey Parker and Matt Stone, TEAM AMERICA used puppets to spoof the kinds of blockbusters brought to us by Michael Bay, Jerry Bruckheimer and more, while at the same time offering up some commentary on the political climate of the time. Over a decade later SAUSAGE PARTY, from the minds of Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg and Jonah Hill, used the kind of CG animation used in Pixar movies to craft a debaucherous tale about anthropomorphic food items struggling to figure out the meaning of life...and ways to have sex.

Which satire embraced its R-rated approach the best? Which had the more hysterical, shocking sex scene? Let's get this battle started.

VOICE CAST
Trey Parker as Gary/Various
Matt Stone as Chris/Various
Kristen Miller as Lisa
Masasa Moyo as Sarah
Daran Norris as Spottswoode
Phil Hendrie as I.N.T.E.L.L.I.G.E.N.C.E.
Maurice LaMarche as Alec Baldwin
Seth Rogen as Frank
Kristen Wiig as Brenda
Jonah Hill as Carl
Bill Hader as Firewater
Michael Cera as Barry
Nick Kroll as Douche
James Franco as Druggie
Craig Robinson as Mr. Grits
Paul Rudd as Darren
David Krumholtz as Kareem Abdul Lavash
Edward Norton as Sammy Bagel Jr.
Salma Hayek as Teresa Del Taco
Danny McBride as Honey Mustard
DIRECTION
Trey Parker deserved a Golden Globe, BAFTA, Oscar and whatever other awards you can give a filmmaker because the work he did directing this movie is nothing short of genius. The attention to detail is mindboggling when you consider the painstaking process of getting the puppets to do what they needed to do. Choreographing the action to the more subtle, "emotional" moments was probably a nightmare to bring to life, but he and his team (shout out to the puppeteers) made for pure satire gold. Everything is staged and executed in a way that's explosive and destructive enough to send up the Jerry Bruckheimer blockbusters it makes fun of, while at the same looking suitably ridiculous and cheap enough to drive home the comedy. The opening scene is done perfectly, with the Eiffel Tower exploding and tipping over (which I'm pretty sure is something that actually ended up happening in 2009's G.I. JOE), which happens in the same space as two puppets doing kung-fu, which plays out like children smashing their action figures together. While the action and puppeteering are beyond impressive, Parker never fails to inject plenty of comedy into the proceedings, maintaining a consistent tone that brims with his and Stone's signature voice. Look, this isn't the kind of movie where you dig deep into the complexities of the direction like it's 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY, but what I'm getting at is there is an insane amount of detail that needed to go into pulling off both the comedy and the action - all done with puppets - and Parker (and his crew) deserve all the props even 14 years later.
Greg Tiernan and Conrad Vernon have been working in different areas of the animation world for decades, with Tiernan making his feature directorial debut here. The movie benefits from their embracing of the lewdness, depravity and R-rated style of the movie, not being afraid to go insane and offensive with it. You don't have to look any further than the Food Orgy scene to know these guys weren't afraid to get totally fucked with it. They certainly grasped the tone of your typical Seth Rogen/Evan Goldberg comedy, which is filled with broad, crass, dumb humor that is actually quite smart. If there's anything wrong with their work is has to do with the pacing. Sometimes the movie goes for too long between really big laughs, and they don't always seem to know what to do with the setting. Food puns are great until you feel like they're just bouncing from one to the next.
STORY/SCRIPT
The work done on the TEAM AMERICA script by Parker, Stone and Pam Brady should be taught in film classes regarding the nature of reworking a script as production carries on. The three were constantly having to rewrite as they discovered the limitations of puppet-driven action scenes. They soon realized the puppets themselves needed to be the center of the humor, letting them talk about heavy subject matter like rape, AIDS and shitting all over their dicks. That comedic tone is what makes the movie stand on its own even over a decade later, along with the fact you can watch even modern blockbusters, and then go back and watch TA and understand exactly what they're making fun of. The script captures the archetypes of your typical Michael Bay action flick, as well as the self-seriousness those movies are often riddled with. There's Gary, the straight, leading man given immense amounts of responsibility, to the point where he needs to go soul-searching to see if he's up to the task. Then you have the love-scarred romance interest, and other characters like the jaded, aggressive team member. The script genuinely points out these character stereotypes and makes fun of them to no end. Throw in the brand of humor they established on SOUTH PARK and you have the perfect script to send up action flicks of the mind-numbing variety with a unique sense of humor.
Kyle Hunter, Ariel Shaffir, Rogen and Goldberg all had their hands in the script, and as I said above, it moves and sounds like the work of the latter two, such as SUPERBAD and THIS IS THE END. This movie has neither the heart or the constant laughs of those movies, even though you could tell they were willing to go balls-out with the humor and depravity. Like Parker, Stone, and Brady on AMERICA, these guys were inspired by a popular style of movies, namely stuff from Pixar and Disney. But if they lose this round it's because they have so many different characters with so many different A-list actors voicing them - all in this new world that needs exploring - that it all feels like a bit of a jumble. As the foods get separated their journies are of varying entertainment value and depth, with Frank's story exploring the deeper themes and Brenda's unveiling more of the store. Then there's Barry, whose adventures on the outside world may have made for a more interesting movie had that been the main focus. The exploration of the world often unearths some hilarious material, but I feel like with this new technology and endless possibilities at their disposal the writers found more fun in crafting the world itself than making their leads as entertaining to follow.
NOTABLE BITS & LINES

Chaos in Paris

Lisa: "Hey, terrorist. Terrorize this!"

Everyone has AIDS!

Gary: "Oh, I get it. I'm supposed to get inside your limo and let you put your finger inside me. And if I go down on you, I get a movie part."

Meet the Team

Spottswoode: "From what I.N.T.E.L.L.I.G.N.C.E has gathered, it would be 9/11 times 100."

Gary: "9/11 times a hundred? Jesus, that's..."

Spottswoode: "Yes, 91,100."

Soul Searching/Freedom Isn’t Free

Face Transformation

America, Fuck Yeah!

Kim Jong-Il

Middle Eastern Cantina Bar

Chris: "Let's get one thing straight, actor. I don't trust you. And if you betray us, I'll rip your fucking balls off and stuff them up your ass so that the next time you shit, you'll shit all over your balls, got it?"

Chaos in Cairo

Alec Baldwin - F.A.G.

“Matt Damon”

Kim: "Hans, Hans, Hans! We've been frew this a dozen times. I don't have any weapons of mass destwuction, OK Hans?"

Sharks and Hans

Lisa: "Promise me you'll never die."

Gary: "You know I can't promise that."

Lisa: "If you did that, I would make love to you right now."

Gary: "I promise I'll never die."

Puppet Sex!

Panama Flood

Spottswoode: "Remember, there is no "I" in "Team America"."

Intelligence: "[pause] Yes, there is."

Sad America, Fuck Yeah.

Michael Moore Goes Boom

I’m So Ronery

Washed Up

Puke Storm

Blowjob of Redemption

Gary: "You can't be serious."

Spottswoode: "Oh, I am serious. Look, this is my serious face."

Montage!

Infiltration

Spottswoode: "Now hold on team, Gary has already proven to me that he is 100% committed to the team. He proved it last night by sucking my cock."

Panthers!

Chris: "Surprise, cockfags!"

Chris: "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."

Actor's Attack!

Chris: "Bad news, Tim Robbins... I'm a smoker!"

Kim: "Now you see, the changing of the worrd is inevitabre!

Lisa: "I'm sorry, it's what?"

Kim: "Inevit, inevitabre."

Baldwin: "By following the rules of the Film Actor's Guild, the world can become a better place; that handles dangerous people with talk, and reasoning; that, is the F.A.G. way. One day you'll all look at the world us actors created and say, "wow, good going, F.A.G.'"

Dicks, Assholes and Pussies

Gary: "We're dicks! We're reckless, arrogant, stupid dicks. And the Film Actors Guild are pussies. And Kim Jong-Il is an asshole. Pussies don't like dicks, because pussies get fucked by dicks. But dicks also fuck assholes - assholes who just want to shit on everything."

Kim: "You are worthress, Arec Barrwin!"

The Real Kim

Freeze Frame!

The Opening Song

Wieners and Buns

Carl: "Look at these big ol' buns!"

Darren: "Fuck you, weenies. Fuck, I hate this fucking job!"

Firewater: "So, you have learned the terrible truth. Congratulations! Now keep it to yourself, or I'll slit your throat while you sleep. I swear to God."

Honey Mustard leaps

Honey Mustard: "'Great' my asshole! Everything we've ever known is a dirt covered pile of shit. Jacking off in our fucking faces. Covering our eyes with their cum, so cum covered we can't fucking see! We don't know! We don't know, they're jerking off into our eyes! Our faces!"

Saving Sausage Ryan

Peanut Butter: [screams] I'm gonna fix you, I'm gonna fix this...

Bagel And Lavash

Juicing Up

The Liquor Aisle

Firewater and the Non-Perishables

Mr. Grits: "We're the Non-Perishables, motherfucker."

Firewater: "The melody came to me one night when I was getting super, super, SUPER baked. Like fuck-a-guy, baked. You know what I'm saying?"

Frank: "I have to try... Everyone will die otherwise."

Firewater: Oh yeah. That's a good point. Fuck me, right?

Twink: Once you see that shit, it'll fuck you up for life. Good luck! Have fun!

Dinnertime Massacre

Potato:"Oh, Danny Boy... The pipes, the pipes are call... [Potato's stomach gets sliced off] Ack! JESUS FUCK!"

Carl: "They're eating CHILDREN! Fucking CHILDREN!"

Out in the Wild

Mexican Aisle

Douche: "So you dragged me over to this fucking aisle with all these illegal products, and now I don't see them. So where the fuck are they? SPILL THE BEANS!"

Refried Beans: Que?

Douche: Beans, I swear to fucking God if you don't shut the fuck up!

Bath Salts

The Dark Aisle

Teresa: "I'm not a soft taco, I'm a hard horny taco."

Food Fight!

Food Orgy!

Firewater: "Hello there, little sausage. You and your friends have accomplished the impossible and for that, I give you mad props. But, now that you have shattered one truth: It is time for you to learn... that we are not REAL."

The Real World

STYLE/INGENUITY
Parker and Stone got the idea for the movie after seeing the announcement of the movie THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW, thinking a great idea for a movie would be to reenact the stupidity of it with puppets. Obviously, they couldn't do that lest they get sued by the folks who brought us INDEPENDENCE DAY, but the puppet angle was still genius. These big, mindless blockbusters seem to be made by men who just want to blow shit up and throw people at one another, as if playing with toys, so Parker and Stone literally did just that. The blank emotions of archetypal action movie characters and actors (especially the likes of Ben Affleck at that point in his career) are all the more hysterical on the faces of puppets, and typical car chases and fist fights are given new life when its done by puppets driving toy cars and smashing into one another. In short, the idea to use puppets to mock and satirize the absurdity of blockbusters, while at the same time commenting on foreign policy, is nothing short of comic genius.
After all the CG animated movies out there about the world of toys and princesses, it was about time we saw one where words like "f**k," "p**y" and "c**ksucker" are commonplace. It was time. We as a society needed it. If there was anyone to get the job done it was Rogen and Goldberg, two filmmakers who often push the boundary of mainstream comedy. The content itself is often hysterical and gleefully profane and offense, which is made even better with it coming from the likes of hot dogs an tacos. CG animation was the next great frontier in R-rated comedy, but that being said, I can't help but feel that, upon rewatching, the approach started to feel old after awhile. I started to feel less and less surprised as the movie went on, with that only changing when something truly grotesque happened, and of course, during the end bit. Maybe I've just seen too many CG cartoons and too many R-rated comedies at this point to truly find the meshing of the two as unique. I don't know; perhaps this means I'm broken.
HILARITY
TEAM AMERICA is a movie that always manages to make you laugh in a variety of ways. There are the ab-hurting bits like the sex scene or the montage, both fit with inspired, original songs. Then you have the characters themselves, so brilliantly crafted to mock archetypes. The villain, Kim Jong Il, is so offensive and politically incorrect it makes you wonder if they could get away with songs like "I'm so Ronery" today. The fact they probably couldn't is what makes the unrestricted humor of TEAM AMERICA so enduring and unique unto itself. But even if you don't go in for the more offensive stuff, there's still the general hilarity that comes out of watching puppets be so self-serious. How do you not laugh when Joe, the aw-shucks Nebraska boy, says shit along the lines of "She'll never go for a country boy like me. I don't know anything about fancy restaurants."
We've heard all manner of crude words and phrases thrown around in live-action comedies before, but coming out of the mouths of jars on honey mustard and bagels gives them a whole new life and delightful crudeness. Factor in the imagination that goes into wondering what our toilet paper thinks about getting used day-to-day, or what peanut butter does when it sees a jar of jelly crash to the ground and you have a movie that can offer a wide array of yucks. It's in the little details where SAUSAGE PARTY gets to let loose and be at its funniest, sadly losing some steam when characters like Frank and Brenda, and sometimes even Sammy and Kareem, don't always get the best material to work with.
AWARDS, PRAISE & MONEY
Golden Schmoes:
    Nominated:
    Best Comedy
    Best Music
    Most Memorable Scene: "Puppet Sex"

**1 wins and 11 nominations (per IMDb)**

Praise

Money:
    $32 million domestic ($50 million global)
Golden Schmoes:
    Nominated:
    Best Comedy
    Best Animated Movie
    Trippiest Movie
    Most Memorable Scene: "Food Orgy"

**2 wins and 24 nominations (per IMDb)**

Praise

Money:
    $97 million domestic ($140 million global)
DEBAUCHERY/CRUDENESS
Parker and Stone have pushed the boundaries again and again on SOUTH PARK, and even more so in SOUTH PARK: BIGGER, LONGER AND UNCUT. Here they find ways to play with violence if only to be a bit restricted by the puppet business. Then there's the legendary puppet sex, which only gets more hardcore in the unrated version. All in all, the movie doesn't feel any more irreverent than a typical episode of their show, which is okay, because the point here doesn't seem to be to push the boundaries of political incorrectness. Their target is a certain kind of movie genre and a certain aspect of the real, political world, the latter of which we will explore next.
When talking about the encompassing scope of the crudeness, depravity and political incorrectness of SAUSAGE PARTY, it has to be one of the most hilariously offensive movies ever. You got German sauerkraut trying to exterminate "the juice," food items constantly talking about f**king, Jewish bagels and Middle-Eastern lavash verbally abusing one another, Tequila being a shady mother f**ker and a douche being, well, a giant douche. This movie gets into the sickest, most unhinged parts of the brain and lets it loose across an animated playground for us all the play and laugh on. And, seriously, do I need to keep bringing up the Food Orgy? That thing is beyond bonkers.
THEMES
The more complex side of TEAM AMERICA is the exploration of what it means to be hated as an American, belonging to a nation that wants to intervene in every crisis and, as the title suggests, police the world. They sum up their point in their own special way by alluding to dicks that make up America who aim to f**k the a**holes and p**ies of the world like North Korea and the disingenuous branch of the left wing. But I don't feel like that theme is explored as richly as it could've been, and it acts as more of a bonus to the satire of blockbusters that is the heart of TEAM AMERICA. To put it one way, the foreign policy theme is a mostly intelligent brain that goes with the movie's massive balls.
While SAUSAGE PARTY is rude and profane it's also got some themes worth exploring when it comes to the nature of existence, mainly the religious side. Frank is driven to explore the truth of why he's there, leading him to speak to the god-like figures of Firewater and the non-perishables, who concocted the story of an afterlife to quell the fears of the other foods. Sound familiar? The end result finds the foods and drinks of the store taking charge of their own lives, being much happier as a result. Yeah, it's not a message that will change the world, but it makes the movie far more thoughtful and smart that it would a have been, and actually quite poignant. That says a lot about a movie featuring A MASSIVE FOOD ORGY.
TEAM AMERICA
SAUSAGE PARTY got a bad wrap from audiences, and for what reason, I don't know. It may lag here and there, but it's a mostly funny, filthy animated flick with a stellar voice cast and with brains to match. But TEAM AMERICA wins this bout for several reasons, among them the sheer, impressive technical feat Parker, Stone, and the crew managed to pull off. More importantly, it remains, even after 14 years, so incredibly hilarious and on-point with its satire. It hasn't aged a day and remains just as effective as ever. Brimming with personality and creativity, TEAM AMERICA is one of the great comedies of its decade, made all the more special because there's probably no way in hell the duo would ever try and make a sequel.

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