Just got back from seeing Team America.

Here’s the thing about movies when you have a young child: you don’t go out to see one in the theatre unless you’re damn sure you’re going to like it. Because if you drop the money for a babysitter, movie tickets and – if you recently won a scratch-and-win lottery – popcorn, you’ve made a serious investment. And you want it to pay off in memorable images, quotable lines, great characters, a moving story.

Or at least some decent laughs. At the bare minimum, give me clever.

Team America? None of the above.

I say this as someone who loved the South Park movie and ate up the Airplane!, Naked Gun and Hot Shots! flicks. But there’s hardly a bright spot in the entire movie. Once when black housecats are used as panthers. Another when a puppet vomits repeatedly. (I’m reaching here, in the interests of fairness.) Annnnd that’s about it.

Unlike the South Park movie, where offensiveness was used deftly to make a point about censorship and skewed priorities, here it’s just a way to get cheap laughs… at least, that’s the hope. It’s a mighty weak crutch to lean on, and gave out at about the ten-minute mark.

The puppetry is the movie’s only strength; for someone raised on Gerry Anderson, that aspect of it was a hoot. But they don’t do nearly enough with it, and that’s a symptom of what’s wrong with the movie. Parker and Stone took on two juicy targets – testosterone-driven adventurism, and uninformed political posturing – had a jewel of an opportunity and, instead of skewering, mooned them.

At the end of the day, with a zillion-dollar budget, they had nothing to say. Too bad.