Friday, September 10, 2010

Man on Film: The A-Team


This is a timely post.


Jessica Biel was hot. Shocking, I know. Not Powder Blue hot, but hot nonetheless.

Now that I've gotten that out of the way, let's move on.

I remember this movie being mindless fun. If there were a way for me to emphasize 'mindless' in that prior sentence without the use of italics, I would. After all, this is a movie in which, while falling from the sky in a tank, the A-Team fires the tank toward the ground to create enough recoil to slow its descent and navigate the tank towards a lake. Seriously. That happened.

That being said, you can mostly check out of your life for an hour and a half and not feel awful about having done so. Sure, some of the chicanery is absurd, but have you seen an episode of "The A-Team" recently? Honestly, I'm not one of the millions who have placed "The A-Team" on a nostalgia-fueled pedestal. Sure, I had an A-Team lunchbox in elementary school, but I was six, and, as has been covered in multiple posts, I may have been retarded as a child. Let us not have any delusions about "The A-Team."

Now whether or not there ever needed to be a film adaptation of the series is an entirely different matter and speaks to the startling lack of new ideas within the current studio system in Hollywood, but I am not here today to delve into that potentially exhaustive subject.

It occurs to me that I've gotten this far in and have not spoken to what works. What works is the cast.

While Bradley Cooper is coming perilously close to becoming the next Jeremy Piven (sans plugs), I do still have a soft spot in my heart for the Bradley Cooper of old. Perhaps his days as Will Tippin on "Alias" and his involvement in Wet Hot American Summer have tainted me as an objective person on the matter, but there is something I ultimately like about Cooper.

Granted, Cooper is basically playing Phil Wenneck from The Hangover again, but he plays smarmy with aplomb and in such a way that--for me, at least--works. That is more or less what the role of Face calls for, and he pulls it off.

As for the rest of the team, Liam Neeson picks up where he left off in Taken, kicking ass and taking names as Hannibal, while Sharlto Copley plays Murdock in such an unhinged way that nearly all of the laughs spring forth from his actions.

Now, the loaded casting decision is trying to fill the shoes of Mr. T. When you think of it, that's kind of weird. After all, Mr. T is no Laurence Olivier. But he does have this weird persona that has been oddly revered and loved for the past 30 years or so. There was virtually no one who could suitably play B.A. Baracus. Carnahan and crew went out and got Rampage Jackson and, well, he was all right. Really, though, is anyone going to be physically imposing enough and still have the mass appeal that Mr. T had? His fame was a product of a perfect storm in the 1980s, and there is simply no way to equate that to today's pop culture climate.

I do feel compelled to mention one more time that this is not a great film. It is a mindless action film that you won't regret having seen. In terms of evaluating films that are trying to profit from raping my generation's memories from childhood, The A-Team is pretty good. It is certainly better than Transformers, the second Star Wars trilogy, or IJ: KOCS, all of which left me unable to sit comfortably for days after seeing them.

On a side note, this is definitely the oldest of the Man on Film series that I had yet to write. We'll be getting much more current starting next week. Five posts in five days! I hope to keep up this level of production.

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