Has anyone else noticed the 80's creeping slowly back into our lives? I've seen more and more girls rocking spandex under their skirts, kids wearing puffier socks and crappy bands like Train getting tons of radio airtime. The 80's are making a glorious comeback in theaters too. The A-Team and Karate Kid hit the big screen this week as odes to a decade of cheesy television and even cheesier film. Both franchises are getting a 21st century kick in the pants.
Let's take a look at a retro Rotten Week.
Back in the 80's The A-Team made its bones on three things: meant to be witty one-liners, stories with razor thin plots, and tons of explosions. From the looks of it, the movie reboot/adaptation wants to accomplish basically the same thing. During the two and a half minute trailer I counted 6-7 attempts at humor, countless things blowing up (with bullets aplenty) and no real discernable story. The A-Team is back baby!
A movie like The A-Team knows exactly what it wants to be: a fun, summer blockbuster. That's it. Much like the Transformers franchise, an 80's staple made into a pretty stupid pair of immensely popular movies, The A-Team doesn't look to suffer from illusions of grandeur. Director Joel Carnahan (sidenote on Carnahan. Everything you probably need to know about this guy can be summed up in the title of his first ever movie: Blood Guts Bullets and Octane.) took some recognizable faces, packed his bags full of special effects, had a group of teenagers write some dialogue and made a movie the general public (not critics) will probably enjoy. I watched the trailer three times, and even knowing the whole adventure will be stupid, who wouldn't want to go see it in the theaters?
Action movies like this fall into a predictable area in terms of critical consensus. Unless they have some other over-arching purpose or message (The A-Team clearly does not), the reviews fall on the left side of the meter. But not too far. It depends on what the critics go to the theater wanting to see. If they're prepared for quintessential summer movie fair then they tend to be less harsh. If they're looking for good drama, watch out. I think that keeps the Tomatometer close to the middle. The Rotten Watch for the The A-Team is 41%.
The Karate Kid
Daniel Laruso's going to fight? Daniel Laruso's going to fight!!! Twenty-six years later (feel old yet?) those lines still give me chills (along with the “You're the Best” tournament montage). For everything the original Karate Kid most likely got wrong when it came to real martial arts (newsflash: the crane kick wouldn't work in a million years), it still was a nice story of new kid/nobody overcoming the bullies and winning the girl. The franchise went off the rails after the first installment, but it does nothing to diminish the original's staying power. Which is why it seemed a little odd to have another go at the story, with Jaden Smith playing the new kid and Jackie Chan as Mr. Miyagi 2.0. But that's Hollywood's mantra: why think of something new when the original can just get upgraded a bit.
The Karate Kid (2010) looks to follow much the same (if not exactly the same) pattern: kid moves to new town, kid likes girl, kid gets picked on by mutant martial art-expert kids (at least more realistic in China than in the San Fernando Valley), kid forms moderately creepy relationship with handyman turned sensei, kid gets unrealistically good in short period of time, kid wins hearts, minds and girl by competing in the big tournament. Preteen girls everywhere lose it over Jaden Smith. Forget it. Now I completely understand why they remade this movie, and it's going to be good!
This is a situation where I use my gut rather than the cold hard facts to give The Karate Kid a Rotten Watch score. Fact: all of Director Harald Zwart's movies have been bad (Agent Cody Banks, The Pink Panther 2). Gut: He doesn't have to do much to make it a good watch right? Fact: Jackie Chan has been in a bunch of stinkers. Gut: Isn't this the role he was born to play? Fact: The whole premise is farfetched and predictable. Gut: who cares, wax on, wax off!!! I like this movie's chances. The Rotten Watch for The Karate Kid is 64%.
Which Rotten movie will have the highest final Tomatometer score?
Recapping last week. Last week we had an uber-bingo time predicting scores. Everything fell nicely into place. Get Him to the Greek (Predicted 69%, Actual 75%) and Splice (Predicted and Actual 72%, that's a boo-yah) were generally well received by critics while Marmaduke (Predicted 27%, Actual 11%) and The Killers (Predicted 22%, Actual 12%) were steaming piles of Ashton Kutcher doggie doo. At least Ashton was able to keep his Joe Dimaggio-like streak of starring in awful films alive. But overall, it was a great week for the Rotten Watch.
Next week we get a little cowboy Scarface with Jonah Hex while Woody and the gang bring us back to playtime in Toy Story 3. It's going to be a Rotten Week!