Friday, June 11, 2010

Pity the Fool (A-Team and MacGruber)

I've been thinking a lot, far too much about the new A-Team film. Now let's be clear. This is a film based on a show that was about as realistic as the GI JOE cartoons of the same time. And the new A-Team continues the legacy of lunacy.

There is a memorable scene (SPOILER) where the guys attempt to slow a plummeting tank by firing at the rapidly approaching ground. Now I'm no Mr.Wizard, but I don't think that's the way the law of physics work. And then again, who cares? Because instead you get Jessica Beil muttering "They're trying to fly that tank." And it's funny. But ridiculous. Which is the essence of my A-Team conundrum.

There is a lot of fun stuff in the A-Team. Bradley Cooper as "Face" has the kind of charisma that could grow into Clooney-esque proportions. The same cock-sure attitude, the man who smirks in the face of fireballs. Another high point is Sharlto Copley. This is his first big role after playing Wickus in District 9. No Afrikaner accent here. Sharlto is playing "Murdock," the court jester of the bunch. His energy is manic and like Bradley it's infectious.

These guys make the A-Team fun. The team clicks, the back and forth, the cross talk make being in the middle of the crew a fun place to be. But the action is insane. The set pieces feel like they were hatched by the bastard love child of Michael Bay and the demented geniuses behind the Crank series.

Which is what frustrates me. The A-Team looks like an action pic. They're using the same vocabulary (car chases, fireballs, firefights) but there's no tension. It's a Noel Coward play drenched in Redbull and topped with gunpowder.

But then last night, I figured it out. The A-Team is a remake, but what they've created isn't an action's a sitcom. An incredible expensive (& loud) sitcom. Call it Four's Company.
Once I made that mental adjustment, all my issues; the lightness of tone, the unbelievable finale...they all melted away.

Really in a way the A-Team is the kind of movie MacGruber wished it could have been. Look at the similarities. The both start in the desert. Both feature heroes who excel at making elaborate devices out of
scraps. Both use familiar action cliches to amuse the audience. It's just that the A-Team is actually funny.

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