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Putting the original “A-Team” up against the new movie.

Putting the original “A-Team” up against the new movie. (photo)

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Before seeing “The A-Team” (to review for another publication) it seemed a good idea to at the very least refresh my hazy memory of the original show by watching the pilot. It was a nice time — the show’s just as amiable and laid-back as memory indicated, and it’s good company.

The new “A-Team,” alas, is very much a product of its times, with hyperventilating sound, some crappy CGI and incoherent set-pieces. (It’s also occasionally hilarious in a “Transporter” way.) The original show is very much of its time, but it holds up better than anyone would have guessed.

The movie gives our heroes an origin story in Mexico, perhaps a tip of the hat to the two-part series pilot “Mexican Slayride.” The episode’s a straight rip of “The Magnificent Seven”: marijuana-growing guerrillas are terrorizing a small town, and the team leads the villagers in a stirring revolt.

You know the drill: a townsman yells “Our grandfathers would spit on us! Better to fight and die than to run like children!” and it’s game on. But getting there is a leisurely process — tthe show opens with many, many establishing shots with no people, so many it’s closer to contemporary art-house master-shot cinema than a normal action movie.

06102010_creature.jpgThe fight scenes are done in the show’s patented no-visible-violence style — though what’s striking about them now is how unbelievably jaunty and upbeat the music is, like there aren’t cars flipping all over the place and bullets flying like nobody’s business.

Not even Indiana Jones got to hear his theme all the time, but the music never so much as hints at danger, conflict or suspense. This creates a weird distancing effect — the violence isn’t so much cartoonish as it is downright pleasant.

Introduced in the mental hospital, the maybe-he’s-crazy-maybe-he-isn’t Murdock gripes “I’m not nuts. I keep telling everyone that. Don’t you think I want to get out of here and see ‘E.T.’ just like everybody else?” Later, the team scams a Mexican town by pretending to be the advance team for a movie called “Boots and Bikinis,” starring Bo Derek, Farrah Fawcett and Loni Anderson, which sounds about right. They’re cinephiles!

The real reference point, though, is Vietnam: there’s a brief but startling shot from the back of a flying crop duster that totally looks like mass bombing is about to ensue, and in the finale the good guys bring a village to its feet to do the fighting for them. It’s hearts and minds in action.

06102010_theateam1.jpgThe show hums along pleasantly, establishing a men-hanging-with-men vibe that can only indulge one token female. (The only major character trait change between the old and new crew is that Face — Bradley Cooper now — is required not just to be a lady’s man, but to only love one woman in particular, which isn’t as much fun.)

As it happened, the end was near for this kind of low-stakes, high-frivolity TV series — as it was, in fact, for action movies starring not particularly complicated people who kicked ass without getting all traumatized or tortured about it. The movie almost manages to avoid getting predictably dark — but secretly, you know the team wouldn’t really want to do all that fighting. The show’s relaxed about its action in a way that’s nearly impossible to see now, which is kind of a drag.

Or you could watch it yourself, below. The opening chase through the studio lot is awfully cool — you’ll never think of “The Ten Commandments” the same away again.

[Photos: “The A-Team,” the “Mexican Slayride” episode, Universal Studios Home Video, 1983; “The A-Team,” Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, 2010]

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Give Back

Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.

Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…

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A-O Rewind

Celebrating Portlandia One Sketch at a Time

The final season of Portlandia approaches.

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GIFs via Giphy

Most people measure time in minutes, hours, days, years…At IFC, we measure it in sketches. And nothing takes us way (waaaaaay) back like Portlandia sketches. Yes, there’s a Portlandia milepost from every season that changed the way we think, behave, and pickle things. In honor of Portlandia’s 8th and final season, Subaru presents a few of our favorites.


Put A Bird On It

Portlandia enters the pop-culture lexicon and inspires us to put birds on literally everything.

Colin the Chicken

Who’s your chicken, really? Behold the emerging locavore trend captured perfectly to the nth degree.

Dream Of The ’90s

This treatise on Portland made it clear that “the dream” was alive and well.

No You Go

We Americans spend most of our lives in cars. Fortunately, there’s a Portlandia sketch for every automotive situation.

A-O River!

We learned all our outdoor survival skills from Kath and Dave.

One More Episode

The true birth of binge watching, pre-Netflix. And what you’ll do once Season 8 premieres.

Catch up on Portlandia’s best moments before the 8th season premieres January 18th on IFC.

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WTF Films

Artfully Off

Celebrity All-Star by Sisters Weekend is available now on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Sisters Weekend isn’t like other comedy groups. It’s filmmaking collaboration between besties Angelo Balassone, Michael Fails and Kat Tadesco, self-described lace-front addicts with great legs who write, direct, design and produce video sketches and cinematic shorts that are so surreally hilarious that they defy categorization. One such short film, Celebrity All-Star, is the newest addition to IFC’s Comedy Crib. Here’s what they had to say about it in a very personal email interview…


IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Celebrity All-Star is a short film about an overworked reality TV coordinator struggling to save her one night off after the cast of C-List celebrities she wrangles gets locked out of their hotel rooms.

IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Sisters Weekend: It’s this short we made for IFC where a talent coordinator named Karen babysits a bunch of weird c-list celebs who are stuck in a hotel bar. It’s everyone you hate from reality TV under one roof – and that roof leaks because it’s a 2-star hotel. There’s a magician, sexy cowboys, and a guy wearing a belt that sucks up his farts.


IFC: What was the genesis of Celebrity All-Star?

Celebrity All-Star was born from our love of embarrassing celebrities. We love a good c-lister in need of a paycheck! We were really interested in the canned politeness people give off when forced to mingle with strangers. The backstory we created is that the cast of this reality show called “Celebrity All-Star” is in the middle of a mandatory round of “get to know each other” drinks in the hotel bar when the room keys stop working. Shows like Celebrity Ghost Hunters and of course The Surreal Life were of inspo, but we thought it
was funny to keep it really vague what kind of show they’re on, and just focus on everyone’s diva antics after the cameras stop rolling.

IFC: Every celebrity in Celebrity All-Star seems familiar. What real-life pop personalities did you look to for inspiration?

Sisters Weekend: Anyone who is trying to plug their branded merch that no one asked for. We love low-rent celebrity. We did, however, directly reference Kylie Jenner’s turd-raison lip color for our fictional teen celebutante Gibby Kyle (played by Mary Houlihan).


IFC: Celebrity seems disgusting yet desirable. What’s your POV? Do you crave it, hate it, or both?

Sisters Weekend: A lot of people chase fame. If you’re practical, you’ll likely switch to chasing success and if you’re smart, you’ll hopefully switch to chasing happiness. But also, “We need money. We need hits. Hits bring money, money bring power, power bring fame, fame change the game,” Young Thug.


IFC: Who are your comedy idols?

Sisters Weekend: Mike grew up renting “Monty Python” tapes from the library and staying up late to watch 2000’s SNL, Kat was super into Andy Kaufman and “Kids In The Hall” in high school, and Angelo was heavily influenced by “Strangers With Candy” and Anna Faris in the Scary Movie franchise, so, our comedy heroes mesh from all over. But, also we idolize a lot of the people we work with in NY-  Lorelei Ramirez, Erin Markey, Mary Houlihan, who are all in the film, Amy Zimmer, Ana Fabrega, Patti Harrison, Sam Taggart. Geniuses! All of Em!

IFC: What’s your favorite moment from the film?

Sisters Weekend: I mean…seeing Mary Houlihan scream at an insane Pomeranian on an iPad is pretty great.

See Sisters Weekend right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib

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