The A-Team

January 11, 2010

The first time we heard rumblings of an A-Team remake, the names being murmured were Mel Gibson, George Clooney, Ving Rhames and Jim Carrey. “That could work,” I remember thinking. But two of those guys have turned into raging lunatics, and one has pretty much vanished, and one did too many movies with Renee Zellwegger.

Then, last year, we heard new rumblings: Liam Neeson. Bradley Cooper. Shawaha Whoeva. A wrestler or something. “That sounds horrible,” I remember thinking.

And then we saw the first promo image, that one up top.

“Hey,” I said. “That looks all right.” By now, of course, we knew to pronounce it Sharlto Copely, because we’d seen District 9, and we’d learned the difference between wrestling and MMA (it comes down to whether they have a hockey cup in their spandex shorty shorts).

And then we saw the first promo trailer.

I loved it the first time I saw it. Then I watched it again. Then I showed it to my 11-year-old son, who said “as if a parachute could hold up a tank.” And that opened the floodgates.

  • … How do those parachutes hold up a tank?
  • … Why is B.A. Baracus suddenly saying “homey” in a high-pitched voice?
  • … Why are two of these Americans played by foreigners with really flexible ideas of how to do an American accent? (I’m talking to you, Sharlto.)
  • … Why does Bradley Cooper always have to take off his shirt? It makes me feel funny.
  • … Who keeps thinking Jessica Biel is convincing as a military officer?
  • … Why does all of this look cheesy and stupid and cartoony?

I know the answer to that last question:¬†Because it’s supposed to.

Look, I know you probably have fond memories of the original TV series. I know I do. It debuted when I was 14 and looking for something with a little more testosterone than the Dukes of Hazzard. But after a year or so of watching hundreds of bullets fly through formulaic plots, past screeching car chases and flip-overs, bounce off the same weekly one-liners and land harmlessly in a barroom dartboard — all while nobody ever got hurt — I turned back to Magnum P.I. I see here now that The A-Team lasted three years or something, but I know I never saw those later years.

It was a dumb show. And it was supposed to be. It was a post-Vietnam right-wing cartoon libertarian take on macho military action, featuring broadly drawn, simple characters played by actors who could jot their entire weekly script on the palm of one hand, show up, watch stuntmen explode things, and go home.

They were there to help Mr. T sell whatever was on the next commercial, and they knew it.

Not that it was a bad show. I’ve seen it since and I get a kick out of it, as long as I don’t have to watch more than one in a sitting. That’s why I’ll go see this movie. I could use a two-hour dose of silly, stupid faux-80s TV action. I know I won’t like it a whole lot once I leave. But I’ll probably enjoy it as long as there’s popcorn in the bucket.

Sometimes you have to take things for what they are, and you have to ask yourself “Did it accomplish what it set out to do?” Not all movies should be treated as cinema. Some should just be enjoyed. We know from the trailer that Hannibal says “I love it when a plan comes together.” Now we just need to hear Rampage say “I pity the fool” and we’re good.

Anyway, this is funny:



  1. C’mon, they’re not going to give up BOTH catchphrases in the trailer. Although I don’t know if BA ever actually said that on the show. I’m glad the van is still the same van, from the promo pic it looked like it was updated to a Hummer.

  2. It actually doesn’t look all that bad, but then I never watched the TV show. As for the tank/parachute thing, they are taking a bit of artistic license with it. Tanks are routinely dropped from aircraft by pushing them out of the back of a low-flying cargo plane(usually a C-130) and the chutes just help pull it out and keep it level for the drop. I don’t think they’d work from that high up, and I don’t think anyone would want to be inside it when it landed/buried.
    Here’s a video of a good tank drop, and one that didn’t go so well: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b4L50eMI8gY

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