A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The A-Team is a tribute to the classic '80s television series and as such includes a lot of amped up gun violence, chase scenes, and explosions. The language is typical of a PG-13 action flick, with "s--t" being the most common word; there are a couple of "mother... f--kers" that are interrupted by explosions. "Face," the character played by a muscle-bound Bradley Cooper, is a ladies man whose exploits are mentioned, plus he's seen engaging in two passionate kisses. Hannibal smokes his signature cigars, and the team enjoys an occasional drink.
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What's the story?
Col. John "Hannibal" Smith (Liam Neeson) leads a clandestine Army special forces unit consisting of handsome Lt. "Face" Peck (Bradley Cooper), B.A. "Bad Attitude" Baracus (Quinton "Rampage" Jackson), and certifiable pilot "Howling Mad" Murdock (Sharlto Copley). On a secret mission in Baghdad for their commanding general, the A-Team retrieves U.S. Mint plates that could be used to print counterfeit dollars, but Pike (Brian Bloom), the leader of a private military-defense unit, blows up the general's convoy and steals the plates, framing Hannibal and his crew. Without any evidence that they were ordered to get the plates, the A-Team is sent to military prisons, and in Murdock's case, a psychiatric hospital. Enigmatic CIA Agent Lynch (Patrick Wilson) helps Hannibal escape on the condition that the team track down Pike, reclaim the plates, and ultimately attempt to clear their names. Meanwhile, ambitious young Lt. Sosa (Jessica Biel), who happens to be Face's ex-girlfriend, is also on the hunt to find the plates and re-arrest the A-Team.
Is it any good?
The good news is that the cast is top-notch, and old-school fans will enjoy all the little nods to the original A-Team. They'll find everything from the catchphrases "I ain't getting on no plane" and "I love it when a plan comes together," to Hannibal's trademark cigar-smoking and Murdock's general lunacy. Jackson is no Mr. T, but he certainly looks the part and even sports "Pity" and "Fool" tattoos on his knuckles for good measure (he sadly does not say "I pity the fool," but perhaps that's for the best, considering Mr. T's negative reaction to the movie). Cooper is turning into the new Matthew McConaughey and spends a ridiculous percentage of the time shirtless (his pecs and abs deserve their own billing) and sunbathing. Neeson is a hard-sell at first, but he nails Hannibal's sense of humor and fierce loyalty to his men. The best part, though, was Copley's Murdock. The South African breakout star of District 9 brings the crazy in a hilarious, scene-stealing way. If you pay close attention, he even gets to revert to his native accent and even speak Swahili. Brilliant!
Now for the not-so-great news. This is not good enough to merit a sequel, even though it ends begging for another "episode." The plot isn't very compelling (but then again, the show always had predictable storylines); and Biel's lone female character is unnecessary eye-candy for male viewers (not that she wears anything but sensible suits; sorry guys!). Wilson and Bloom get bonus points for their amusing villains, but this is basically a two-hour excuse to see container ships, tanks, vans, and all manner of things explode -- not to mention the over-the-top stunts and gun violence that characterized the series. If you're in the mood for a high-testosterone, simple-to-follow, incredibly loud story, this is a fun and substance-less action flick. Be warned, you may not be able to stop humming the theme music for the rest of the day.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the theme of necessary violence. How is violence discussed in the movie? Do any of the characters seem affected by the body count they are responsible for? Why does B.A. change in prison, and what makes him shift his beliefs again after he's out? What would the repercussions of that much violence and mayhem be in real life?
Many movies are remakes of older movies or TV shows. Is it lazy of Hollywood to produce so many remakes? Why do you think they do it? What are the best TV shows-turned movies? What are the worst?
- In theaters: June 11, 2010
- On DVD or streaming: December 14, 2010
- Cast: Bradley Cooper, Jessica Biel, Liam Neeson, Sharlto Copley
- Director: Joe Carnahan
- Studio: Twentieth Century Fox
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Run time: 117 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: intense sequences of action and violence throughout, language and smoking.
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.