DID YOU READ

“Team America: World Police” cast and puppeteers reunite for Los Angeles Animation Festival

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It’s been eight years since “Team America: World Police” first graced theaters, and the movie has managed to remain as funny and scathing as ever. Though creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker have since vowed to never make a marionette movie again (they prefer to stick to “South Park”), it seems everyone involved in the film still appreciates what a landmark it was.

The Los Angeles Animation Festival honored the hilarious satire with a Saturday night screening at the Regent Showcase Theatre in West Hollywood. IFC was able to catch up with several of the voice actors and puppeteers responsible for creating the 2004 flick and ask them about their views on the film nearly a decade after it was released.

“I was happy to be involved in any way that I could, because that was a great work experience for me,” said Phil Hendrie, who voiced the computer system I.N.T.E.L.L. I.G.E.N.C.E. and Chechnyan terrorist in the movie. “It’s obviously a phenomenal film, so to be a part of a movie that is sort of history making, any time I can tag my name to that rocket I’d like to do that.”

He added, “Every time that it’s mentioned that I was in ‘Team America,’ people instantaneously recognize it. They know the voice of I.N.T.E.L.L.I.G.E.N.C.E., they know the voice of the terrorist, they know the film, so it’s like my instant credibility button.”

Daran Norris, who voices Spottswoode in the movie, had similar sentiments. In fact, he said he barely even needed to be asked once before he agreed to show up. Even though Norris has done plenty of voice work on Nickelodeon and in video games during his career, “Team America” still holds a very special place in his heart.

“It’s the craziest thing. This is the most quotable and quoted thing I’ve ever been involved with. Friends of mine, people I’ve never met, family members, everybody quotes this character and does all the quotable lines,” he said. “It’s really crazy and wonderful.”

Still, it’s worth noting that “Team America” isn’t technically animated, so it might not deserve a place in the festival. The main characters may be marionettes, but they’re shot live action style with actual pyrotechnic explosions and effects. But puppeteer Steve Chiodo had an explanation for that.

“At first we wondered if ‘Team America’ really qualified as an animated film, but, as a company, we animate a lot of things,” he explained. “In its broadest sense, puppets need animation, otherwise it’s sort of hanging there. So we bring inanimate objects to life, no matter what the technique, so we think marionettes cover that.”

Before the screening of the movie, Chiodo, his brother Ed, Norris, Hendrie and some other puppeteers took to the stage to discuss the making of the movie. It turns out that 80 puppets were created to perform as 200 characters, which is a juggling act that would be a major feat for any movie, and that’s why we haven’t seen an onslaught of puppet movies since “Team America’s” moderate success.

“I think we all realize why we haven’t seen many marionette movies; it’s because they’re impossible to make! It really was quite a production to mount all these puppets,” Chiodo said with a laugh.

Still, there’s a reason why “Team America” had stood the test of time and remains just as funny as ever. Making a film starring only puppets (and a couple of black cats and sharks) might have been an ordeal that neither Parker nor Stone wants to replicate, but at least it made one damn great movie.

The key to that was the two directors being very aware of the movie they were making before they made it. Everything from the infamous sex scene to Michael Moore’s bombing of Mount Rushmore was planned and crafted to walk the fine line between entirely serious and comical.

“Trey and Matt said something very lasting for me. They said, ‘Puppets doing funny things are not funny. Puppets doing serious things are funny.’ And they were doing very serious things, and they were hysterical,” Hendrie explained, and we couldn’t agree more.

Do you think “Team America” is as good now as when it came out? Tell us in the comments section below or on Facebook and Twitter.

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Hard Out

Comedy From The Closet

Janice and Jeffrey Available Now On IFC's Comedy Crib

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She’s been referred to as “the love child of Amy Sedaris and Tracy Ullman,” and he’s a self-described “Italian who knows how to cook a great spaghetti alla carbonara.” They’re Mollie Merkel and Matteo Lane, prolific indie comedians who blended their robust creative juices to bring us the new Comedy Crib series Janice and Jeffrey. Mollie and Matteo took time to answer our probing questions about their series and themselves. Here’s a taste.

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IFC: How would you describe Janice and Jeffrey to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Mollie & Matteo: Janice and Jeffrey is about a married couple experiencing intimacy issues but who don’t have a clue it’s because they are gay. Their oblivion makes them even more endearing.  Their total lack of awareness provides for a buffet of comedy.

IFC: What’s your origin story? How did you two people meet and how long have you been working together?

Mollie: We met at a dive bar in Wrigley Field Chicago. It was a show called Entertaining Julie… It was a cool variety scene with lots of talented people. I was doing Janice one night and Matteo was doing an impression of Liza Minnelli. We sort of just fell in love with each other’s… ACT! Matteo made the first move and told me how much he loved Janice and I drove home feeling like I just met someone really special.

IFC: How would Janice describe Jeffrey?

Mollie: “He can paint, cook homemade Bolognese, and sing Opera. Not to mention he has a great body. He makes me feel empowered and free. He doesn’t suffocate me with attention so our love has room to breath.”

IFC: How would Jeffrey describe Janice?

Matteo: “Like a Ford. Built to last.”

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Mollie & Matteo: Our current political world is mirroring and reflecting this belief that homosexuality is wrong. So what better time for satire. Everyone is so pro gay and equal rights, which is of course what we want, too. But no one is looking at middle America and people actually in the closet. No one is saying, hey this is really painful and tragic, and sitting with that. Having compassion but providing the desperate relief of laughter…This seemed like the healthiest, best way to “fight” the gay rights “fight”.

IFC: Hummus is hilarious. Why is it so funny?

Mollie: It just seems like something people take really seriously, which is funny to me. I started to see it in a lot of lesbians’ refrigerators at a time. It’s like observing a lesbian in a comfortable shoe. It’s a language we speak. Pass the Hummus. Turn on the Indigo Girls would ya?

See the whole season of Janice and Jeffrey right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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Die Hard Dads

Inspiration For Die Hard Dads

Die Hard is on IFC all Father's Day Long

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIPHY

Yippee ki-yay, everybody! It’s time to celebrate the those most literal of mother-effers: dads!

And just in case the title of this post left anything to the imagination, IFC is giving dads balls-to-the-wall ’80s treatment with a glorious marathon of action trailblazer Die Hard.

There are so many things we could say about Die Hard. We could talk about how it was comedian Bruce Willis’s first foray into action flicks, or Alan Rickman’s big screen debut. But dads don’t give a sh!t about that stuff.

No, dads just want to fantasize that they could be deathproof quip factory John McClane in their own mundane lives. So while you celebrate the fathers in your life, consider how John McClane would respond to these traditional “dad” moments…

Wedding Toasts

Dads always struggle to find the right words of welcome to extend to new family. John McClane, on the other hand, is the master of inclusivity.
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Using Public Restrooms

While nine out of ten dads would rather die than use a disgusting public bathroom, McClane isn’t bothered one bit. So long as he can fit a bloody foot in the sink, he’s G2G.
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Awkward Dancing

Because every dad needs a signature move.
Die Hard dance

Writing Thank You Notes

It can be hard for dads to express gratitude. Not only can McClane articulate his thanks, he makes it feel personal.
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Valentine’s Day

How would John McClane say “I heart you” in a way that ain’t cliche? The image speaks for itself.
Die Hard valentines

Shopping

The only thing most dads hate more than shopping is fielding eleventh-hour phone calls with additional items for the list. But does McClane throw a typical man-tantrum? Nope. He finds the words to express his feelings like a goddam adult.
Die Hard thank you

Last Minute Errands

John McClane knows when a fight isn’t worth fighting.
Die Hard errands

Sneaking Out Of The Office Early

What is this, high school? Make a real exit, dads.
Die Hard office

Think you or your dad could stand to be more like Bruce? Role model fodder abounds in the Die Hard marathon all Father’s Day long on IFC.

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Founding Farters

Know Your Nerd History

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIFs via Giphy

That we live in the heyday of nerds is no hot secret. Scientists are celebrities, musicians are robots and late night hosts can recite every word of the Silmarillion. It’s too easy to think that it’s always been this way. But the truth is we owe much to our nerd forebearers who toiled through the jock-filled ’80s so that we might take over the world.

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Our humble beginnings are perhaps best captured in iconic ’80s romp Revenge of the Nerds. Like the founding fathers of our Country, the titular nerds rose above their circumstances to culturally pave the way for every Colbert and deGrasse Tyson that we know and love today.

To make sure you’re in the know about our very important cultural roots, here’s a quick download of the vengeful nerds without whom our shameful stereotypes might never have evolved.

Lewis Skolnick

The George Washington of nerds whose unflappable optimism – even in the face of humiliating self-awareness – basically gave birth to the Geek Pride movement.

Gilbert Lowe

OK, this guy is wet blanket, but an important wet blanket. Think Aaron Burr to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton. His glass-mostly-empty attitude is a galvanizing force for Lewis. Who knows if Lewis could have kept up his optimism without Lowe’s Debbie-Downer outlook?

Arnold Poindexter

A music nerd who, after a soft start (inside joke, you’ll get it later), came out of his shell and let his passion lead instead of his anxiety. If you played an instrument (specifically, electric violin), and you were a nerd, this was your patron saint.

Booger

A sex-loving, blunt-smoking, nose-picking guitar hero. If you don’t think he sounds like a classic nerd, you’re absolutely right. And that’s the whole point. Along with Lamar, he simultaneously expanded the definition of nerd and gave pre-existing nerds a twisted sort of cred by association.

Lamar Latrell

Black, gay, and a crazy good breakdancer. In other words, a total groundbreaker. He proved to the world that nerds don’t have a single mold, but are simply outcasts waiting for their moment.

Ogre

Exceedingly stupid, this dumbass was monumental because he (in a sequel) leaves the jocks to become a nerd. Totally unheard of back then. Now all jocks are basically nerds.

Well, there they are. Never forget that we stand on their shoulders.

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC all month long.

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