#306. Based on TV

The rallying cry of fans of the TV series, Community was “Six seasons and a movie.” While playing to an established fan-base is a wise move for movie producers, sometimes striking a nostalgic chord with audiences is the better path to success. Sure, there have been plenty of movies based off of TV shows which have also featured the original cast, but sometimes a reinterpretation with modern actors gives the concept a fresh feel. That’s not to say that the movies based off of TV shows that feature the original cast (a la the Star Trek films before 2009) are bad, it’s just that an original take on the themes and motifs of the TV show makes the movie feel more like a standalone story, instead of just an extended TV episode. This week’s two films were based off of television shows but did not feature the shows’ original cast.

The A-TeamThe A-Team
Year: 2010
Rating: PG-13
Length: 117 minutes / 1.95 hours

Clearly, the wave of nostalgia for those people who grew up in the 1960’s and 1970’s is what has inundated Hollywood with the plethora of TV show adaptations. Starting around 2004, the trend to bring these television shows from the golden era of television has only continued. Films like Starsky & Hutch (2004), Bewitched (2005), and The Dukes of Hazzard (2005) all played as standard comedies, albeit updated to the comedic styles and tastes of the new millennium. A couple of years later, we saw these adaptations gain steam again with such films as Get Smart (2008), Land of the Lost (2009), and Dark Shadows (2012) leading the pack. Of course, none of these films were that great. Occasionally audiences would get a treat with such fantastic films like The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (2015), but these were rare. Most films were campy throwbacks, much like The A-Team (2010).

Acting as an origin story for the eponymous “A-Team”, this film modernizes the original premise behind the television show. “In 1972, a crack commando unit was sent to prison by a military court for a crime they didn’t commit. These men promptly escaped from a maximum-security stockade to the Los Angeles underground. Today, still wanted by the government, they survive as soldiers of fortune. If you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find them, maybe you can hire… the A-Team.” Instead of taking place in 1972, these commandos were shown to be Army Ranger veterans from the Iraq war. Upon being framed for a botched mission involving U.S. Treasury plates, these four men set about to find the man behind their wrongful incarceration and manage to bring him to justice.

MaverickMaverick
Year: 1994
Rating: PG
Length: 127 minutes /  2.11 hours

Even before Hollywood began marketing on the nostalgia of comedic television shows, they had already adapted a few films to prove that the concept worked. What’s interesting about these earlier adaptations from TV was that they almost were able to maintain their own notoriety apart from the source material on which it was based. Films like The Fugitive (1993) earned Oscar nominations for Best Picture, whereas Mission: Impossible (1996) spawned a five-film franchise. Even newer adaptations like Star Trek (2009) have been able to cash in on the popularity of its fan-base, even if most of them don’t particularly care to be pandered to. Of course, there are also the television shows that haven’t remained nearly as relevant in popular culture, so few modern moviegoers will know that these films were even based on TV shows. One such film that would fit this category for me would be Maverick (1994).

Bret Maverick (Mel Gibson) is confident he is the best card player in the world, so in order to have definitive proof of this, he enters in a poker tournament that requires $25,000 as an entry fee. While he’s a little short on the money, he sets out to get the rest of it from some of his contacts. Along the way, he meets two others who want to participate in the tournament: Annabelle Bransford (Jodie Foster) and Angel (Alfred Molina). Bransford and Maverick manage to con a Russian Grand Duke out of some money so they can both enter the tournament, while Angel is on a mission to stop Maverick from playing. Meanwhile, Marshal Zane Cooper (James Garner, who also played Bret Maverick in the original show) is keeping an eye on all the players, hoping to arrest some of them for illegal activities. The tournament comes down to a single card to determine who will win. So, who has luck on their side?

2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 TV transitions

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#195. Hugh Grant

Some actors have almost become the epitome of their country. If I were to ask you to name a Scottish actor, you would tell me Sean Connery. If the same question were asked about Australian actors, you’d say Hugh Jackman. Well, Hugh Grant is probably the best known British actor. This is probably because most of the films Hugh Grant has performed in have been from Britain. As such, since Hugh Grant has appeared in many British films, he would tend to be identified as the epitome of a British actor. But what really defines a British actor? Often, they are seen as overly formal, socially bumbling, and all around charming in an awkward kind of way. This week’s two films highlight some of Hugh Grant’s roles as a British actor which have ended up defining the stereotypical British role.

                                                 Four Weddings and a FuneralFour Weddings and a Funeral
Year: 1994
Rating: R
Length: 117 minutes / 1.95 hours

Hugh Grant’s defining genre has been that of the romantic comedy. This was probably due to his breakout role in Four Weddings and a Funeral. After that, he has starred in such films like Mickey Blue Eyes (1999), Two Weeks Notice (2002), About a Boy (2002), and Music and Lyrics (2007). He also starred in three more romantic comedies which were written by Richard Curtis (who also wrote Four Weddings and a Funeral): Notting Hill (1999), Bridget Jones’s Diary (2001), and Love Actually (2003). That’s not to say that he’s exclusively done romantic comedies, having acted in dramas like Sense and Sensibility (1995), and Cloud Atlas (2012). Still, his charming protagonist roles in the distinctly British style have caused his name to be forever linked to the romantic comedy genre.

As we all know, most romantic comedies end in weddings, so there’s no doubt that Four Weddings and a Funeral is a romantic comedy, since it contains four of them. In the first wedding, Charles (Hugh Grant) meets Carrie (Andie MacDowell) and they end up having a one-night fling before she has to fly back to America. By the second wedding, Charles is crestfallen to find that Carrie has brought along her fiancé: Sir Hamish Banks (Corin Redgrave). To add insult to injury, he is seated at a table full of ex-girlfriends, followed by being trapped in the hotel room where the just married couple burst in to consummate their vows. The third wedding between Carrie and Hamish came after Charles told her too late that he loves her. This is why the fourth wedding between Charles and Henrietta (Anna Chancellor) is made all the more awkward when he learns Carrie is now divorced.

The Pirates! Band of MisfitsThe Pirates! Band of Misfits
Year: 2012
Rating: PG
Length: 88 minutes / 1.46 hours

The gap that often links romantic comedies to regular comedies is quite small. As such, comedies like Small Time Crooks (2000), Did You Hear About the Morgans? (2009), and The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (2015) are all part of Hugh Grant’s repertoire. But, as I mentioned earlier in this post, since Hugh Grant is somewhat the epitome of the British actor, it makes sense that he would work with British Directors (like Richard Curtis and Guy Ritchie), as well as British production companies. One such company is that of Aardman Animation. These purveyors of plasticine plots have made their mark on the film world with such family classics as Chicken Run (2000), and Wallace and Gromit: Curse of the Were-Rabbit (2005). Because they work solely in animation, only Hugh Grant’s voice was needed for The Pirates!

On the high seas, many men are out to prove themselves. Pirate Captain (Hugh Grant) is trying to prove that he’s the best there is by attempting to plunder more treasure than any other pirate, thus winning the “Pirate of the Year” competition. Unfortunately, his inexperienced crew is unable to produce results. On their final attempt, the crew boards the Beagle, where they find a love-struck Charles Darwin (David Tennant). Darwin is attempting to win the “Scientist of the Year” competition so he can impress Queen Victoria (Imelda Staunton) and get her to notice him. It is in this fateful meeting that Darwin finds that Pirate Captain’s bird, Polly, is actually the last of the dodo birds. In a twist of fate, Pirate Captain finally strikes it rich by making a deal with Queen Victoria, thus winning the competition. However, at what cost did this prize come?

2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 hilarious Hugh Grant roles

Bacon #: 2 (Two Weeks Notice / Robin Weigert -> My One and Only / Kevin Bacon)