Every autumn for the last four years, Dan and I, along with our pal Nick, head up to Garden City, Utah – home of Utah’s Bear Lake – and spend a weekend inhaling everything and anything bad for your body, including Doritos, cinnamon rolls, bacon, M&Ms, Swedish fish, soda, Oreos, Nutter Butters, hamburgers, fries, pizza and anything else in sight that’s chocked full of sugar. This three day culinary orgy is affectionately called “Mankend” and is punctuated by an afternoon of gun-firing goodness. In the end, we all enjoy 72 hours of laughing, dirty stories, farting and video games. The only thing missing is booze, hookers and pornos. Maybe someday.
I bring up Mankend because Joe Carnahan’s The A-Team is the cinematic equivalent of a weekend with the dudes. I wouldn’t call it a “guy flick” but it definitely tilts that direction. I can’t remember the last time I smiled and giggled from start to finish during a movie, but such was the case with The A-Team. And apparently, aside from Dan, who gave the movie a B+, most other critics are calling this nonsensical and a mess. Even my beloved Roger Ebert gave it the bird finger and said watching the two-hour movie was punishment. Did these guys see the same movie? Are they depressed about the BP oil spill or the imminent threat of Iran or North Korea shooting a nuke up America’s prunehole? It makes no sense to me whatsoever.
If it’s the film’s plot that has critics unenthused, then it’s time for that self-righteous group to unclench their collective butt cheeks and withdraw their noses from Oscar’s ass. This isn’t award season fare; this isn’t a gritty, dark and brooding look into soldier’s lives post-tour-of-duty in Iraq. This is dumb fun and there really isn’t anything to elaborate on. You have your heroes, Hannibal (Liam Neeson), Face (Bradley Cooper), B.A. (Quinton Jackson), and Murdock (Sharlto Copley), who are wrongly accused of stealing U.S. treasury plates while on duty in Iraq. We know they were set-up and we know screenwriters Carnahan, Brian Bloom and Skip Woods aren’t going to spend inordinate amounts of time investigating the psyches of our heroes, rather they spend 95 percent of the 117 minute runtime doing blowing crap up and looking for ways to make us laugh. I’d say they did an exceptional job.
Part of what makes The A-Team so fun is the unmistakable camaraderie of the cast and their shared charisma. Cooper, Jackson and Jessica Biel (Captain Sosa) are great, but the real standouts are Copley, Neeson and Patrick Wilson (Lynch). Copley has a crazy sharpness to his acting that suggests total immersion, Neeson and his towering baritone and wry smile can’t help but steal the scene and Wilson has that high school jock smirk and countenance that reeks of weasel and makes him a perfect bad guy.
The A-Team is summer moviemaking at its finest. It’s flashy, exaggerated, surprisingly funny and full of charm. If you are going to spend your hard earned cash at the theater this weekend, I wouldn’t hesitate for a minute to spend it on this surefire blockbuster. I’d be amazed if you didn’t like Carnahan’s stylized version of the 80s TV show as much as I did.