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15 Patriotic Facts About Team America: World Police

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YouTube

Parodying oversized action flicks and sharply mocking the political landscape in the contentious and anxiety-ridden mid-2000s, South Park co-creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker—along with screenwriter Pam Brady and hundreds of puppets—brought us Team America: World Police. Here are some facts about the movie that nearly made the pair swear off moviemaking altogether.

1. THE 1960S PUPPET SHOW THUNDERBIRDS WAS AN INSPIRATION.

Stone and Parker were not fans of the show growing up, but when they rediscovered it as adults they quickly recognized its comedic potential. Shortly after that, they read about the sale of the script for the disaster movie The Day After Tomorrow. "And we were like, 'That's genius. That would be the best puppet movie ever made,'" Parker told The Boston Globe.

2. IT WAS ORIGINALLY GOING TO BE A DIRECT PARODY OF THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW.

Then their lawyers explained how much of a potential legal disaster that would be.

3. IT'S A GENERAL TAKE ON JERRY BRUCKHEIMER'S MOVIES.

In developing the movie, Parker and Stone repeatedly found themselves asking one another what Bruckheimer—the producer behind such action movies as Con Air, Bad Boys, The Rock, Armageddon, and Top Gun—would have the characters do or say in each scene. Stone, Parker, and Brady studied Top Gun, plus Alien and S.W.A.T., and read Joseph Campbell to help them write their script.

4. THE CITIES WERE MADE IN ONE-THIRD SCALE.

In order to create the Team America world, Stone and Parker brought in architect David Rockwell—designer of the Dolby (formerly Kodak) Theatre, several W Hotels, and the Nobu restaurants—as a visual consultant, as well as production designer Jim Dultz (Muppets Tonight). The movie was filmed in a Culver City, California warehouse.

5. THE PUPPETS WERE 22 INCHES TALL.

Or about one-third of the average person’s height. Spottswoode was the first puppet made by Stephen, Edward, and Charles Chiodo. In total, 270 puppet characters were created for the film.

6. MATT DAMON’S PUPPET LOOKED WEIRD.

Matt Damon was made into an idiot in the film because his puppet, Parker and Stone noted, didn’t look like him. The creators apologized to Damon, who the two are friendly with. The actor later said he thought their portrayal of him was “brilliant.”

7. MICHAEL MOORE WAS STUFFED WITH HAM.

The skulls of the exploding puppets were loaded with latex, rubber, blood, and dried fruit or meat. Michael Moore got ham. Matt Stone didn’t appreciate Moore’s editing of Bowling for Columbine, in which Stone appeared.

8. HANS ZIMMER WAS HAPPY THAT SOMEONE WAS MAKING FUN OF HIS ACTION FILM MUSIC.

According to Parker and Stone, Oscar-winning composer Hans Zimmer—who has scored a number of action movies over the past several decades, including many of Jerry Bruckheimer's films—said he hoped Team America would “put the stake through the heart of this genre.”

9. IT WAS CLOSE TO GETTING AN NC-17 RATING BECAUSE OF THE PUPPET SEX.

They had to cut more than half of the sex scene to get an R rating. It took the filmmakers 10 tries to get it to the MPAA’s satisfaction.

10. STONE NEVER WORKED HARDER IN HIS ENTIRE LIFE.

Stone and Parker worked 14 hours a day from May through September, taking just one day—July 4th—off. For a time, three units were shooting at the same time. The two didn’t see the final, complete cut from beginning to end until after it had already been screened in some theaters.

11. A STUDIO EXECUTIVE THOUGHT PARKER AND STONE HAD SCREWED THEM OVER.

The opening scene starts with a very cheap replica of the Eiffel Tower, and an equally poorly constructed puppet. When Paramount executives first saw the footage, one executive exclaimed, “Oh, god, they f*cked us!” The film's $32 million budget was spent largely on the remainder of the movie. Parker, Stone, and producer Scott Rudin waived their fees, which totaled $7 million, to help get the movie made.

12. GEORGE CLOONEY AND ALEC BALDWIN WERE FANS.

Clooney was a South Park fan from way back, but Parker and and Stone didn’t inform him that he was going to be made fun of in their movie. Clooney didn't mind: "Trey and Matt are still friends of mine," the actor told Empire magazine. "Remember, I helped get their show on the air."

Alec Baldwin thought the movie was funny, even though his daughter’s classmates would tell him “You are useress to me, Arec Bardwin” like Kim Jong-il in the movie. Stephen Sondheim, Russell Crowe, and Elton John also loved it.

13. SEAN PENN WAS NOT A FAN.

Sean Penn wrote a letter to Parker and Stone, expressing his outrage with the movie, and the letter quickly went viral. Which thrilled the filmmakers. "We read the letter and it was like okay, well, he seems to be pissed off. But there’s no single thing he could have done to help this movie more," said Parker. "Now we’re on the front page of everything again. It’s like, you go to Drudge Report, big picture of Team America, Sean Penn’s letter, and I’m just like, 'Thanks.' I mean, we’re seriously like, 'Dude, thank you.'"

14. THE NORTH KOREAN EMBASSY TRIED TO BAN THE FILM IN THE CZECH REPUBLIC.

The Czech Foreign Ministry claimed the North Koreans were denied the request.

15. STONE SAID MAKING THE MOVIE WAS "THE WORST TIME" OF HIS ENTIRE LIFE.

He also claimed that he would never make another movie with Parker again because of all of the stress he had been through. Parker said that if someone threatened to kill his family, he still wouldn’t make another puppet movie. Parker and Stone are currently writing the movie adaptation to their hit musical The Book of Mormon.

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Twentieth Century Fox
Big Is Coming Back to Theaters for Its 30th Anniversary
Twentieth Century Fox
Twentieth Century Fox

Break out your giant piano: Big is coming back to theaters! As Entertainment Weekly reports, the hit Tom Hanks-starring comedy will be making its triumphant return to the big screen to celebrate the film’s 30th anniversary, courtesy of Turner Classic Movies and 20th Century Fox.

Though the movie itself was released on June 3, 1988, these special anniversary screenings will take place next month. More than 700 theaters across the country will welcome Big back into cinemas on July 15 and July 18, with 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. screenings on both days.

Though the role of Josh Baskin—a teenager who magically gets his wish to be a grown-up, with both hilarious and dramatic complications—seemed tailor-made for Hanks and his talents, the production wasn’t all smooth sailing. Originally, Steven Spielberg (whose sister co-wrote the script with Gary Ross) was attached to direct, with Harrison Ford in the lead. When Penny Marshall came on board, Hanks was her first choice, but he passed on the part (as did Kevin Costner, Warren Beatty, Albert Brooks, and a string of other in-demand actors). Robert De Niro was attached for a time, but that eventually fell apart, too.

Fortunately, the project came full circle and Hanks was eventually convinced to come aboard. He earned his first of five (and counting) Best Actor Oscar nominations for the role.

Visit the Fathom Events website to find out if Big is coming (back) to a theater near you

[h/t: Entertainment Weekly]

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Columbia Pictures
10 Fun Facts About Can’t Hardly Wait
Columbia Pictures
Columbia Pictures

When the teen film Can’t Hardly Wait—which was named after the Replacements song of the same name—arrived in theaters on June 12, 1998, it grossed $25,605,015 on a $10 million budget. In the 20 years since, the movie has found an even larger audience through DVD and cable. The premise follows Preston Meyers (Empire Records’s Ethan Embry) trying to connect with his dream girl, Amanda Beckett (Jennifer Love Hewitt), all the while seeking advice from his best friend, Denise Fleming (a pre-Six Feet Under Lauren Ambrose).

Originally called The Party, most of the movie takes place during a rambunctious graduation party, featuring a before-they-were-famous cast, and Jenna Elfman as a stripper dressed as an angel. The movie culminates with Preston and Amanda sealing their romance and living happily ever after. Written and directed by Harry Elfont and Deborah Kaplan, the two would later team up for Josie and the Pussycats. Here are 10 fun-filled facts about the ’90s teen comedy.

1. THE PLOT WAS BASED ON LOGISTICS.

Can't Hardly Wait was Harry Elfont and Deborah Kaplan’s directorial debut, so they liked the idea of having a self-contained and low-budget story to direct. “It was all practical,” Elfont told TIME. “The idea of doing a movie set at a party came first, because it seemed like it would be really cheap to shoot a movie in one location. Then we thought, what hasn’t been done? Nobody’s really done a high-school movie in a while. So we kind of fell into it that way. It was kind of an accident.”

2. SEVERAL SCENES IN THE FILM WERE CHANGED TO AVOID AN R RATING.

A year before the raunchy American Pie was released and jumpstarted R-rated teen films, Can’t Hardly Wait got watered down to get a PG-13 rating. Sony had issues with the underage drinking, and the fact there was no parental supervision at the party. “Well, who would have a high school party and have your parents there?!” Hewitt asked the Los Angeles Times. Seth Green, who played the virginal Kenny Fisher in the movie, gave a rundown of deleted or altered scenes, to Vulture.

“When [Jennifer] Love [Hewitt] first walks into the party, there’s a kid behind her holding a balloon and covering his mouth,” he said. “That used to be a beer bong, but the most expensive CG in the movie was [used] to make it [look] like that kid was smiling and holding a balloon. And then, there’s a scene where Charlie [Korsmo] and Peter [Facinelli] are at the piano. They toast, and then they cut to a wide shot where neither of them are drinking and then cut back to a close-up of them putting their glasses down because you can’t show the kids drinking.”

3. ETHAN EMBRY FORCED HIS WAY INTO PLAYING THE LEAD.

“It had been a while that I had the opportunity to play the ‘guy that gets the girl,’” Embry told VH1. “I had done those roles when I was a lot younger and this was the first time that someone would see me as a lead.” After Embry auditioned for the movie, he got offered the William Lichter part, which eventually went to Charlie Korsmo. But Embry turned the supporting part down. “I wanted to play the guy who gets the girl. That was sort of the driving thing.”

4. MELISSA JOAN HART AND JENNIFER LOVE HEWITT GOT “HIGH” ON B12 VITAMINS.

Hart purposefully chose the small role of the manic Yearbook Girl, as she was working full-time on Sabrina the Teenage Witch and couldn’t fit in a bigger part. While filming a night scene with Hewitt, Hart took B12 vitamins to stay energized, and offered them to a skeptical Hewitt, who thought the vitamins were drugs. “I finally convinced her it’s a vitamin, you can do it,” Hart told TV Guide. “So we took B12 vitamins, and then there was an owl in the tree. [Hewitt] was like, ‘See I’m high now, because there’s not really an owl in the tree.’ We were having these silly night giggles and just attributing it to B12 vitamins.”

5. JASON SEGEL HAD A CAMEO.

The actor was a year away from starring on Freaks and Geeks and seven from How I Met Your Mother when he signed on to play Watermelon Guy. Kaplan and Elfont recognized his talent immediately. “We knew how funny Jason was but there wasn’t a bigger part for him, so we were, like, let’s cast him as this watermelon guy,” Elfont told TIME.

Many other actors either got their start in the movie or became more famous as a result, including Lauren Ambrose and Freddy Rodriguez (both from Six Feet Under), Clea DuVall, Selma Blair, and Sean Patrick Thomas. “Everyone in that age range came in to read because there were no other jobs,” Kaplan told TIME. “That whole crop of people who turned out to be so talented and do so well for themselves afterward were in our movie literally, I think, because there was nothing else for them to do.”

6. EMBRY DOESN’T REMEMBER MUCH ABOUT THE SHOOT.

Embry admitted to VH1 to being “the world’s biggest stoner” while making the film. “Nothing sticks out because I was so stoned the entire time,” he said. He also confessed, “I haven’t seen the movie all the way through ... I never read the script.”

One thing he did remember, though, was the only scene he filmed with Hewitt, at the end of the movie. Before their characters kissed at the train station, Hewitt—knowing he smoked—had a basket of breath mints sent to Embry’s trailer. “And there was a basket of breath mints, you know? Like real pretty,” he said. “Like almost you give somebody flowers or a fruit basket but she gave me 50 breath mints. And it’s all different types. It was all very sweet. And that always makes me laugh thinking of that. Aww, Jennifer wanted me to smell good.” Embry took advantage of the gift and popped some breath mints into his mouth before filming. “They were rather nice cottonmouth alleviators,” he said during a Reddit AMA.

7. EMBRY DOESN’T KNOW—OR CARE—WHAT HIS CHARACTER'S LETTER SAID.

Early on at the party, Amanda finds and reads Preston’s letter and spends the rest of the film trying to find him. It must’ve been a powerful letter, because it finally brings them together at the end. “It was a prop! It was an envelope,” he told VH1. “I think I remember the directors asking me if I knew what was in there. It was a prop. It doesn’t matter. Like I know what’s in there? It’s called acting.”

8. THE CAST WOULD LOVE TO DO A SEQUEL.

In 2015, some of the cast reunited at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery for a screening of the film. Hewitt tweeted: “Can’t Hardly Wait reunion movie anyone? Let’s get them to make it!” In a 2013 interview with VH1, Embry was tepid about a sequel. “Maybe if they paid me more than last time,” he said about a second one. “[He and Amanda] would have to not be together anymore. Amanda and him had a horrible breakup and there were kids involved. He drinks himself silly over a typewriter. I’d make that sequel.” But in a 2015 interview with The Huffington Post, Embry changed his tune. “Of course I would be thrilled to work with any of the players involved again,” he said. “If all the stars aligned, I would be happy to entertain that possibility.”

Peter Facinelli, who played Amanda’s ex-boyfriend Mike Dexter, told IFC his thoughts on a sequel. “You know how the whole movie takes place at the high school party? We could have the whole movie take place at the reunion. I thought it’d be a fun movie.”

9. PETER FACINELLI THINKS MIKE DEXTER TURNED INTO A LOSER.

If a sequel did occur, Facinelli has an idea about what happened to Mike. “Now he’s basically the loser,” he told IFC. “The nerd was the loser in the first movie. Now he’s like the loser and then he kind of climbs back and gets back on his horse. And the nerdy kid is now the Bill Gates who is kind of like the Mike Dexter, bossing everyone around. I think [Dexter’s] just literally a loser. He’s filled with self-doubt and he would basically rise to self-confidence again and come back on top.”

10. EMBRY THINKS PRESTON AND AMANDA ENDED UP WITH WEIRD JOBS.

VH1 asked Embry where he thinks the characters would be today, and he said: “She’s j*rking off dudes in Vancouver, and he’s making horror movies in upstate New York.”

Elfont took a more serious approach to the question, for TIME. “[The on-screen text at the end of the movie] says they’re still together,” Elfont said. “Who am I to argue?”

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