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Back to the '80s: "A-Team" Vs. "Karate Kid" Leaves Others Cowering

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    NEWSLETTERS

    The Reagan Era is back with a vengeance this weekend, with two of the '80s' most iconic pop culture brands opening at your local multiplex, "The A-Team" and "The Karate Kid."

    "The A-Team" premiered on our sister network in Jan. 23, 1983, amid countless fiery explosions, lame jokes and now-immortal taglines. Within a month seemingly every 13-year-old boy -- and no small number of adults -- across every playground in America was growling "I pity the fool!" and "I love it when a plan comes together." The filmed was ravaged by critics for being brainless, violent and sexist -- traditions the film keeps alive -- but at its peak the show was the third most popular in the country, behind only "Dallas" and "Simon & Simon."

    A Team Trailer

    [NATL] A Team Trailer
    A Team Trailer (Published Monday, Jan 11, 2010)

    The following year, "The Karate Kid" hit theaters on June 22, 1984, going up against "The Pope of Greenwich Village," "Rhinestone" and "Top Secret!" It would go on to take in more than $90 million, finishing fifth for the year, spawn the catchphrases, "Sweep the leg!" and "Wax on, wax off," and earn Pat Morita an Academy Award nomination. The success of "Karate Kid" warranted not only two sequels, but a reboot, "The Next Karate Kid" starring Hillary Swank, back in 1994.

    Now, for good or ill, both are back and ready to feed your seemingly bottomless hunger for notalgia and they are all but guaranteed to finish 1-2 at the box office this weekend. But if '80s nostalgia makes you throw up in your mouth just a little bit, take heart: there are in fact films out this week that are not rehashings of that decade's cultural touchstones. Let's take a look at what's new this weekend at your local movie house...

    "Karate Kid"

    [NATL] "Karate Kid"
    What do you do if your kid kept bugging you about wanting to be a movie star? If you're Will Smith, you'd produce a remake of an '80s classic for said child to headline. Jaden Smith stars opposite Jackie Chan. (Published Thursday, Mar 11, 2010)

    "The A-Team"
    Great (for its time) show, great theme song, great new cast... but Mr. T's legacy hangs heavily on this big-screen adaptation. Read our complete review and watch the trailer.

    "Karate Kid"
    Jaden Smith replaces Ralph Macchio and Jackie Chan replaces Pat Morita in this reboot of the beloved franchise. We never got the allure of this film, even at age 12, so we're not as jazzed as some folks about this one. Smith was reasonably good starring alongside his dad in The Pursuit of Happyness," but judging from the trailers for "Kid," he's become a bit too self-aware to be a natural. But maybe we're over thinking things... Oh, if you do decide to go, be forewarned, the theme song is a collaboration between Jaden and Justin Bieber. Watch the trailer.

    "Winter's Bone"
    The look and feel are well crafted, and the acting is fantastic, but the story that's been teased from Daniel Woodrell's novel has an uneven and frustrating pace and a finish that feels suspiciously tidy. Read our complete review and watch the trailer.

    "Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky"
    We're grown-up enough to admit that we had no idea -- zero -- that these to even knew one another, much less had an affair. Reviews for this French film have been mixed, and it's only now being released stateside despite showing at Cannes in 2009, so it's probably not awesome, but the trailer is gorgeous and intense. Watch the trailer.

    "Joan Rivers - A Piece of Work"
    From our review during the Tribeca Film Festival: "What makes 'A Piece of Work' such compelling viewing is the way Stern and Sundberg not only portray Rivers' omnipresent awareness of the dark side of the curtain, but how she often adopts a Zen-like acceptance toward the entertainment world's less admirable qualities. It's a survival mechanism for her no doubt, but it makes for an engaging story -- wanting to remain a player in a cold and fickle industry that's done its fair share of kicking her around over the years. Read our complete review and watch the trailer.