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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New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

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Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…

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

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon.

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number!

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time.

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by.

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IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo.

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim.

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t?

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?”

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud.

See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

The-Craft

The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”

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Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).

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Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.

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And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.

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Get Physical

DVDs are the new Vinyl

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available On Disc.

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In this crazy digital age, sometimes all we really want is to reach out and touch something. Maybe that’s why so many of us are still gung-ho about owning stuff on DVD. It’s tangible. It’s real. It’s tech from a bygone era that still feels relevant, yet also kitschy and retro. It’s basically vinyl for people born after 1990.

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Inevitably we all have that friend whose love of the disc is so absolutely repellent that he makes the technology less appealing. “The resolution, man. The colors. You can’t get latitude like that on a download.” Go to hell, Tim.

Yes, Tim sucks, and you don’t want to be like Tim, but maybe he’s onto something and DVD is still the future. Here are some benefits that go beyond touch.

It’s Decor and Decorum

With DVDs and a handsome bookshelf you can show off your great taste in film and television without showing off your search history. Good for first dates, dinner parties, family reunions, etc.

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Forget Public Wifi

Warm up that optical drive. No more awkwardly streaming episodes on shady free wifi!

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Inter-not

Internet service goes down. It happens all the time. It could happen right now. Then what? Without a DVD on hand you’ll be forced to make eye contact with your friends and family. Or worse – conversation.

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Self Defense

You can’t throw a download like a ninja star. Think about it.

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If you’d like to experience the benefits DVD ownership yourself, Portlandia Season 7 is now available on DVD and Blue-Ray.