October 5, 2004


Puppet Sex Leads to Rating Rift: The filmmakers behind 'Team America' want to get an NC-17 cut to an R, but the MPAA objects to an explicit scene. (Rachel Abramowitz, October 5, 2004, LA Times)

They call it puppet love.

But the folks who determine film ratings call it NC-17.

The filmmakers behind "Team America: World Police," an action-genre satire featuring a team of muscular marionettes that save the world, are butting heads with the Motion Picture Assn. of America over the film's proposed rare rating, which would bar admission to anyone younger than 17.

At the heart of the dispute is a scene in the film that shows simulated sex between the puppets. Thus far, the production team has submitted the scene nine times — each progressively less graphic — to the MPAA board, said Scott Rudin, the film's producer. Each time, the MPAA insisted that the NC-17 rating would remain unless further cuts were made, the filmmakers said. The MPAA did not return phone calls late Monday.

"It's something we all did as kids with Barbie and Ken dolls," said Trey Parker, the film's director and co-creator of the animated TV show "South Park." "The whole joke of it is that it's just two dolls flopping around on each other. You see the hinges on their legs. [The MPAA] read into it way more than we ever did…. They said you can't do anything but missionary position."

The interesting thig is that when someone remade the Thunderbirds they used live action because they didn't think Supermarionation was cool enough for today's kids. But the South Park guys--than whom none are likely cooler--went the puppet route. Meanwhile, there's not a straight guy over forty who hasn't had at least one illicit dream about shellacking Lady Penelope, though a few may be in denial.

'Team America': A Movie to Offend Everyone (Roger Friedman, October 05, 2004, Fox News)

Scene after scene, "Team America" goes over the top. Whether it's language or just simple suggestion of vulgar acts, "Team America" never hesitates to outdo its preceding scene.

I can't repeat the words to the theme song that spoofs patriotism, but you get the gist of it. Needless to say, teenage boys will be enthralled by the endless graphic references to oral sex and the scatological.

But Parker and Stone have also added another element: a team of Hollywood actors who descend on Korea (I think) for a misguided peace conference.

The group of air-headed puppets, led by Alec Baldwin, is dubbed the Film Actors Guild (and referred to by its unfortunate acronym).

Among his liberal associates are usual suspects Tim Robbins, Susan Sarandon, Sean Penn, Danny Glover, Janeane Garofalo, George Clooney, Ethan Hawke, Matt Damon and a few who seem like they were thrown in for no reason: Helen Hunt, Samuel L. Jackson and Liv Tyler.

I am told that none of these actors gave permission for their likenesses to be used. Most will not be amused by their depictions. [...]

There's more and there's Moore in "Team America," including a Michael Moore puppet, a stretch DeLorean, a hollowed-out Mount Rushmore used as the Team America lair, and, of course, more irreverent songs, including one devoted to Bruckheimer director Michael Bay and his godawful blockbuster "Pearl Harbor."

Paris, most of Egypt and plenty of other landmarks are blown up, all so Team America can, as their credo goes, "put the F back in freedom."

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 5, 2004 8:59 AM



you may have gone over the edge on this one based on Kerry recent upsurge.

Posted by: neil at October 5, 2004 9:03 AM

I always thought Parker and Lady Penelope were shacking up. When she said, "Nice shooting, Pahhhkahh" she wasn't just talking about pistols.

Posted by: Governor Breck at October 5, 2004 9:06 AM

Just about to turn 41. Who the heck is Lady Penelope?

Posted by: joe shropshire at October 5, 2004 9:45 AM


Ah, denial...

Posted by: oj at October 5, 2004 9:51 AM

I cought the tail end of The Thunderbirds run
(or was it re-run). Anyway, I found it
disturbingly hard to resist.

Posted by: J.H. at October 5, 2004 10:01 AM

Now I'm just waiting for a gratuitous thread
about "Starblazers".

Posted by: J.H. at October 5, 2004 10:06 AM

"a straight guy over forty who hasn't had at least one illicit dream about shellacking Lady Penelope"

So this, Orrin, is what it's come to...puppet lust.

Posted by: H.D. at October 5, 2004 11:29 AM

I am against male-puppet marriage.

Posted by: Chris Durnell at October 5, 2004 11:42 AM

It's going to be awful, obvious, a total waste of money - and I want to see it very much.

Posted by: John Barrett Jr. at October 5, 2004 11:46 AM

I'm echoing Joe--no denial here--who the heck is Lady Penelope?

(This might have something to do with spending my Wondbread (tm) formative years outside instead of in front of the one-eyed brain sucker)

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at October 5, 2004 12:19 PM

Actually, as an impressionable pre-adoloscent, I thought "Captain Scarlet" was cooler, since the premise allowed them to off the guy in about three-quarters of the episodes and let him come back alive the following day (which come to think about it, sound a lot like Kenny in "South Park". Too bad I don't have a DVD set of the show, I could check and see if any of the other characters says "Oh my God, they've killed Scarlet!" in any of the episodes).

Posted by: John at October 5, 2004 1:04 PM

Lady Penelope was the British MI6 agent who worked occasionally with International Rescue to thwart bad guys and rescue people. She cruised around in a super souped up pink Rolls Royce driven by her reformed ex-con manservant and crack shot Parker. To those in the heat of adolescent lust, she was disturbingly attractive.
I hereby sentence you to watch all of the Thunderbirds Megaset, the one that has all of the episodes and all of the movies. Personally, I like Tin-Tin better, but that's just personal taste.

Posted by: Governor Breck at October 5, 2004 1:07 PM


Not straight?

Posted by: oj at October 5, 2004 1:09 PM


I was reading too fast and thought you meant Rin Tin Tin--scared me.

Posted by: oj at October 5, 2004 1:15 PM

The TA:WP puppets are cool because it's an over-the-top, campy satire.

They may not have worked as well in Thunderbirds, since the latter played it straight.

However, it does mean that there's a great opportunity here to re-make other 60s series into puppet movies, and see how they do.

Posted by: Michael Herdegen at October 5, 2004 1:49 PM

Planet Patrol with the torioidal spinning spaceships, where Jupiter is one giant third world country, Saturni's rings defensive shields and the Uranians the bad guys with Slavic accents.

If marionettes are film material, can Punch and Judy: The Movie be far behind?

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at October 5, 2004 2:34 PM

John, google Captain Scarlet - he's back. It's coming out of England. Trailer is coooooollll.

I didn't want to shellack Lady P, Alan was for me!

And I did enjoy the Live Action.

Posted by: Sandy P at October 5, 2004 3:31 PM