Friday, June 18, 2010

Film within a Film

I went out to the movies tonight for the first time in ages. It's been that long since anything opened that I really wanted to pay full price to see! What hooked me in was a big-screen remake of the 1980s series "The A-Team," which my brother and I watched religiously when we were kids. It was exactly the kind of show we could never get enough of - CHiPs, the Dukes of Hazzard, and Charlie's Angels notwithstanding. Anything that had high-speed chases, orange explosions, breaking glass, aerial stunts, and car wrecks worked for us. We weren't asking for much.

The new movie revives the old formula with up-to-date stunts, effects, and technology. Plus, it has a cast with pizzazz, including Liam Neeson, Jessica Biel, Bradley Cooper, and the hilarious Sharlto Copley as "Howling Mad" Murdock. It's got it all: a cigar-chomping rogue soldier who loves it when a plan comes together, a tough guy with the words "PITY" and "FOOL" tattooed on his knuckles, intense action, big laughs, sex appeal, and a storyline so convoluted that you'll have to see it at least twice to decide whether it makes sense.

For me, though, the cleverest touch was one that only I seemed to appreciate. At least, I was the only one in the theater who laughed aloud. In a film within the film, an apparently low-budget action flick called "The Greater Escape" with the same theme music as the main attraction, the opening credits named some of its cast--including "Reginald Barclay" and "G. E. Starbuck." This is the type of in-joke that proves the American mind capable of coping with Cockney rhyming slang. Because, as any teenage couch potato in the 1980s could tell you, Starbuck was a character on the original "Battlestar Galactica," played by the same Dirk Benedict who created Bradley Cooper's character for TV. And Barclay was the recurring character on "Star Trek" played by the original H. M. Murdock, Dwight Schultz. Thus, in a subtle way, the original cast made cameos in the remake!

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