NOT EVEN ONE FOOL
Last night, Steve and I decided to go see "The A-Team" on the fly. He had mentioned wanting to see it before it came out and I was kind of just humoring him by going, since almost everything I had heard about the movie was bad. Don't get me wrong, I'm not snobbing it up here. I'm not above seeing a movie based on a TV show that I wasn't really crazy about as a kid, I just mean that I was kind of indifferent about this movie & could have waited to get it from Netflix or something.
I'm SO glad I didn't wait. It was actually a really good movie and I think seeing it in the theater was part of the charm of the thing.
Movies like this, the ones that trade mainly on nostalgia, are usually unsuccessful for two reasons:
1) New actors usually can't recapture whatever elusive quality it is that made the original character so endearing. Any fictional person from television or movies is usually 10% what the writers put in the script and 90% what the actor themselves does with it. Any beloved character from a television show usually become beloved because something about the way they are played strikes a chord with the watchers. If you doubt me, try putting Scarlett Johannsen in the role of Lucy Ricardo. Bless her heart, I don't care if she won a Tony or not, she'd never be able to BE Lucy Ricardo the way Lucille Ball was. Plus, she'd be upstaged by her boobs before she uttered one sentence of dialogue. In the case of this movie the same thing applies, but amazingly the new actors pulled it off better than most. By that I don't mean they successfully mimicked the old actors, but that they took the characters and made them likable on their own terms. You will never be able to replace Mr. T as B.A. Barrakas (?), but Rampage Johnson played B.A. in a way that makes you not mind so much that they share the character. The same goes for the other three guys and though I will never understand in a million years how Liam freaking Neeson was put in the role of Hannibal, I can't say he didn't do a good job at BEING Hannibal.
2) Remakes of well known and well loved television shows, especially ones with rather far fetched premises, usually become caricatures of whatever they were originally. The movie makers tend to amp up whatever it was that made the show unique and WAY overdo it, either making it ridiculous or too campy. In this instance, the movie was neither. I don't know if it was smart writing or what, but they could have really overplayed everything and it would have ruined both the movie and the memory of the show. Surprisingly, they didn't rely too heavily on any one thing about the show that could have made the movie overdone. Don't get me wrong, they added in things from the original show and made references, but it didn't shout into your face "HEY! HEY! I'M REFERENCING THE TV SHOW YOU LIKED SO MUCH! SEE?! SEE?!" I mean, they had explosions, chases, and disguises but they were necessary in the context of the story. There was even a montage, but it was a subtle montage. In this day of practically everything being a remake of some kind, and usually not great ones, I'm impressed at the restraint.
Now, these things don't mean the movie was perfect in any way, or would replace the idea of the original. The movie had it's weak points, too. Jessica Beal, who plays pretty much the only female character of importance in the film was...well... I mean, she's so pretty. Not so great with the acting, maybe, but very pretty. One of the bad guys was just irritating. I think maybe he was supposed to be, but the actor who played him made me decidedly stabby. I don't know what it was about him, but if I could have personally beaten him with a pipe wrench, I would have. Also, and this was my biggest disappointment, B.A. Barraccas didn't even pity one fool. Not one. The line was referenced, but never said. I'm sure that had something to do with not making it campy and overly referential, but still. I wanted him to pity a fool.
So there you go. This movie will definitely not win any Academy Awards and will probably be a movie you can find in the Wal-Mart movie bin for cheap, but I recommend it. It is probably one of the few remakes that successfully captures the idea and tone of the original, without also completely urinating on your fond memories of sitting in front of the TV watching it. If you need to turn off your mind and watch some good, explody action, you could definitely do worse.
EDIT: I realize that I just wrote a rather long and wordy review of The A-Team movie. I apologize. Seriously, I need to get a job.