June 10, 2010


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Dork vs. Dork: The A-Team and The Karate Kid
Duo of remakes burgles your childhood Saturday afternoons
By Glenn Given production@hippopress.com and Dan Szczesny dszczesny@hippopress.com

Ow! Please stop! This is hurting me! What did I do to deserve this? I promise if you just let me out I won’t even tell the police. I never even saw your face.

And … scene.

Sadly this forthcoming one-two combo of retro regurgitation is no innocent improv. Chasing the mythical black ink, Hollywood has decided to scrape deeper into the barrel bottom with The Karate Kid and The A-Team rehashes. First, who asked for this? Specifically, who asked for Will Smith’s kid to be in any film, ever? Frankly, who asked for Will Smith to be in any film (notable exception made for Bad Boys II), let alone a talentless miniature version of himself? And shamelessly prying his “sure-my-parents-are-bazillionares-but-I-am-just-a-scamp-from-the-streets” little fingers into your checkbook. Also, Mr. Neeson, Michael Caine called, he wants his lack of dignity back. And the rest … of the F-Team ...

You know what, it’s not the fault of these sad sad little actors (as if! Jessica Biel is in The A-Team, rendering it scientifically impossible of being watchable). It’s not even the fault of the needs-a-quick-$50-million producers and studios. This is our (meaning your) fault. Once Tinsel Town realized that they could save half their marketing budget by simply remaking things we vaguely remember as being just lame enough to be goofy, it was all over for fans of original ideas. Take the majority of the audience, rewind to just the point where they begin to forget actual details of past entertainment, and bring that check to the bank.

I don’t know what eighties you lived in, but in mine, The Karate Kid was actually about karate, not about how much product placement the Socialist Party can get into a Hollywood film. Also it was about discipline, honor and shedding immaturity. It was not about half-smirking at the camera while a tween delivers one-and-a-quarter entendres for an hour and a half until he Chan-pratfall-clip-reel-rolls. I have discoursed with Ralph Macchio and this, sir, is no Macchio-caliber performance. The A-Team was about building a tank out of oil barrels and a backhoe, not about skydiving into helicopters and finding ways to stuff Biel into a miniskirt. For shame, Hollywood. - Glenn

DAN Responds
This coming from someone whose idea of high art is the Street Fighter IV video game. Fine, I’ll concede Jessica Biel. But, defending the original A-Team is like spending a grand framing a velvet Elvis painting. The original Karate Kid was not about honor, it was about some scrawny kid from New Jersey getting lucky and beating the guy who actually knew karate. I say go Cobra Kai!

The other day, while channel surfing, I came across an old episode of The A-Team. Fantastic! What could be better than a trip down nostalgia lane? In getting ready for this column, I also popped in my old VHS of the original The Karate Kid. (Yes, I still own a VCR. Sue me.) What a day I was in for, I thought, a time to reflect on the original stories before Hollywood spits them out as something different, something less pure.

The A-Team ran from 1983 to 1987. Coincidentally, the original The Karate Kid came out in 1984. So what do they have in common other than the two new movies coming out this week?

As it turns out, they have their awfulness in common. These are some of the major popular culture touchstones of my youth. But facts are facts: the originals are lousy. Poorly written, dreadfully acted and just outright impossible in a Newton’s-laws-of-physics kind of way.

In short, remakes of ’70s and ’80s pop culture are necessary because the originals desperately need to be remade. It worked brilliantly for Battlestar Galactica. Can anyone over the age of 9 even watch a full episode of the original anymore? Starsky and Hutch. The Dukes of Hazzard. Miami Vice. Now, the question of whether the remakes are any better is a debate for another time. What’s undeniable is that the originals are worse.

Another example? Star Trek. That series had become a parody of itself. Last year’s movie changed all that. How? By tossing out the canon over the whines and hissy fits of obsessive nerds and creating an actual story with real people. Or MacGruber, the recent parody of MacGyver. Again, dump the earnestness and you have a funny spoof.

Both The A-Team and The Karate Kid circa 2010 should do the same. Look, don’t go crying about how a movie about Iraq war vets framed for a crime they didn’t commit is just more of the same Hollywood mumbo-jumbo. It is. But, with Liam Neeson on board and director Joe Carnahan (Ticker) at the helm, at least the movie should resemble reality. And with The Karate Kid, who doesn’t like Jackie Chan? Take Chan’s worst movie, let’s say The Tuxedo. He’s still fun and likeable. This is a guy who can make people watch the Rush Hour movies even though Chris Tucker is in them.

Embrace the remake. Forget the past. It was not better back then. - Dan

GLENN Responds
Hey, last week I baked a horrible cake, I think this week I will use the exact same ingredients and just turn the oven up to EXPLOSIONS degrees, I’m sure that will make it all come out alright, right?.

5/27/2010 Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time

5/13/2010 Robin Hood
5/6/2010 Iron Man 2
12/17/2009 12 days of geeksmas
8/6/2009 G.I. Joe
7/9/2009 Bruno
7/2/2009 Public Enemies
6/25/2009 Transformers 2
6/4/2009 Land of the Lost
5/21/2009 Terminator Salvation
5/7/2009 Star Trek
04/30/2009 X-Men Origins: Wolverine
08/21/2008 Death Race
08/14/2008 Star Wars: The Clone Wars
07/31/2008 The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emporer
07/24/2008 The X-Files 2
07/17/2008 The Dark Knight
07/10/2008 Hellboy II
07/03/2008 Hancock
06/19/2008 Get Smart
06/12/2008 The Incredible Hulk
05/09/2008 Speed Racer
07/06/2006 Thelma Todd at 100
07/06/2006 Ahoy Mateys!
06/15/2006 Indie-phile
06/01/2006 Reconstructing Thelma
05/25/2006 X3
05/18/2006 The Da Vinci Code
05/11/2006 Poseidon
05/04/2006 Mission Impressive?
04/27/2006 Get carded
04/20/2006 Catching the slam wave
04/13/2006 Rescuing the man on the clock
03/30/2006 Why Godspell, why?
03/23/2006 Texas Hold 'Em, almost
03/16/2006 MTV: Back in Nashua?
03/09/2006 Dork vs. Dork: V for Vendetta
02/16/2006 Party with the dancing stars
01/26/2006 Predicting the movie playoffs
01/19/2006 Almost Gruntled: Looking a gift something or other in the mouth
01/05/2006 Eveerybody loves the gay cowboys