Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Get Smart or Get Out

Connery, Bronson, Cruise, Schwartzeneger…Carrell? Would you believe that this was a movie with no flaws from the beginning to the end? No? Would you believe that it ridiculous, very entertaining but ran a little bit too long? Exactly.

There is no better person on Planet Earth that could replicate Don Adams’ fast wittedness and dweebish persona than Dunder Mifflin’s own, Steve Carrell. On screen, he is physically dwarfed by his co-star Dwayne Johnson, known to many as “The Rock” from the WWE fame. I guess at one point in life, the public has to come to grips with the idea that Dwayne is not an inanimate object. But it was still the funniest name in Hollywood. Keep it as “The Rock” Dwayne!!!! Anne Hathoway plays the sultury Agent 99, the brains behind Maxwell Smart’s bumbling crime solving operations.

The opening credits of the movie mentions how CONTROL, where the TV Maxwell Smart worked as a true guardian of freedom and democracy, was disbanded after the Cold War. Since they mention there was a CONTROL in the past how is there another Maxwell Smart? Is Steve Carrell playing Maxwell Smart Jr.? I was probably the only one thinking along those lines but it still confused me. Sometimes, I have a hard time suspending reality.

Maxwell is the best analyst CONTROL has ever seen. His reports are lengthy and in depth (much to the dismay of his fellow employees who do not bother to read them). Seeking a promotion as a field agent, the Chief played by Alan Arkin, lets Smart know that he too valuable as analyst. Fate steps in as CONTROL is broken into by the evil and unseen genius known as CHAOS. Apparently, his henchmen can reach all aspects of crime from petty theft to a nuclear arms race. After CONTROL is compromised and field agents have been exposed, Maxwell Smart is given his chance becoming Agent 86 and teaming up with love interested and deadly assassin Agent 99.

In the long history of spy films from James Bond to Austin Powers, there is a formula that must be followed.

1) The bad guy. He usually has a limp, groomed facial hair, or a prop of some sort to make him look more interesting. In this case, we have a man by the name of Siegfried who plays the violin. One of his henchmen is famous for his portrayal of Borat’s road trip friend. I could not help but picture him naked on a hotel room bed while watching Get Smart which actually added to the comedic experience.

2) The hero is usually lucky with the ladies and winds up with whomever he chooses.

3) There is usually a great escape scene and somebody usually winds up in a ventalation system.

In many ways, Get Smart is your basic spy tale on a predictable time table but it does succeed in ways Austin Powers never did. The comedy is sudden, neat and does not cornerstone on sex and toilet humor. Steve Carrell is a familiar face and a Hollywood box office cash register for a reason. He take cues from his role as Regional Manager Michael Scott on the smash hit The Office, using that dry and underscored cleverness to craft different jokes. This movie is perfect for a Carrell fan and a nightmare for some who takes themselves to seriously.

Though the movie does execute, it does run somewhat long. Also, the absence of a current Cold War takes away from its potrayal of the television series. This film gets 2.5 shines out of 5.

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