‘Team America’ Tones Down Puppet Raunch, Gets R Rating

Times Staff Writer

“Team America: World Police,” a raunchy satire featuring a cast of marionettes who seek to save the world, won its efforts to earn an R rating from the Motion Picture Assn. of America.

The film had been plunged into a dispute with the MPAA ratings board over a scene depicting simulated sex between the puppets. Trying to ward off an NC-17 rating, which would have barred admission to anyone younger than 17, the filmmakers submitted versions of the controversial scene -- each progressively less graphic -- to the ratings board for review.

The MPAA on Tuesday assigned the film an R rating for “graphic, crude, sexual humor; violent images and strong language all involving puppets.” An R rating allows entrance to teenagers under 18 when accompanied by an adult. The MPAA declined further comment.


Robert Friedman, vice chairman of Viacom Inc.’s Paramount Pictures Motion Picture Group, said the sex scene is still in the movie, but trims were made to comply with the R rating.

What has changed, he said, is “the level of sex, how often and how many positions and which positions. It was really all about the level, the positions and the intensity of the sex.”

Producer Scott Rudin said the trims were minimal, but still took issue with the MPAA’s intervention on the film: “You can blow up 100 people” in a movie, he said, but the rating board’s chief concern is “all centered around sex.”

The film opens nationwide Oct. 15.