Get Smart (2008)

Get Smart — Oh my! I am not sure if it is because I went to this movie with relatively low expectations, but I really enjoyed it! I have never seen a full episode of the t.v. show, so I am not sure how those fans will take the movie, but I thought Steve Carrell hit all the right notes and he truly is the star of the movie.

Alan Arkin, Masi Oki and Nate Torrence are great support as well as The Rock (who gets to flex his comedic muscles) and Anne Hathaway who was okay and did not outshine her co-star. It was a fun popcorn movie. It doesn’t try to be more than it was intended and it did not fall into truly sophomoric humor, either. I enjoyed it quite a lot.

I am a HUUUUUUUUUUGE fan of the television series and simply cannot BELIEVE that Penny has never seen a full episode! Penny, it’s totally your kind of humor. You would love that show.

I’m enough of a fan to know the Chief’s agent number (it’s Q, from the days before they switched to numbers) and his first name (it’s Thaddeus). I’m enough of a fan that I would have been sorely disappointed had Agent 13 not made an appearance in the film (he does, and he’s played by an appropriately mopey Bill Murray). I’m enough of a fan to have been pleased to see Bernie Kopell (The Love Boat’s Dr. Adam Bricker and the original Siegfried of K.A.O.S.) make a quick cameo.

So this film had a gigantic task ahead of itself if it hoped to please me. Luckily, I am not the only one of my kind, and the filmmakers were aware of that. Every catchphrase is in there, but not in a dumb, “look, here’s the catchphrase!” way, except for both times Agent 86 used “Missed it by that much!” The rest of the catchphrases were worked in almost naturally, as if they were the sorts of things you or I would have said in the same situations. The “portable” Cone of Silence shows up, as does the updated version, which also doesn’t work the way it’s supposed to. Even Hymie makes an appearance, which I just considered bonus.

I thought it was an interesting and effective decision not to have Steve Carrell affect the Maxwell Smart / Tennessee Tuxedo voice. This new Maxwell Smart is a reasonable, acceptable update on the old character. The new Agent 99 (Anne Hathaway) is good, but the dynamic between the characters was unexpected. In the television series, 86 is all business and it’s 99 who longs for his attention. In the film, those roles are reversed. In the series, she lets Max make the decisions and it’s her competence that cleans up the mess; she would never have fought with Max over who was in charge. Max was always in charge but successful only because of 99.

I have to say that as much as I like Hathaway, I disagreed with the way the writers and director present her here. In the television show, 99 is pretty, but it’s her smart, earnest competence that makes her sexy. In this film version, she’s presented rather sexually from the very beginning, and while I can’t argue with results, I don’t like what it does to the overall picture.

Still, Carrell and Hathaway are good choices for these roles, which I hope they get to reprise someday.

The action sequences were fine, but they were of little interest to me. I was much more interested in the dialogue and character interaction, both of which pleased me a great deal. Masi Oka and Nate Torrence as the new gadget guys are hilarious. Dwayne Johnson is perfect here as C.O.N.T.R.O.L.’s number one agent. Music by Trevor Rabin is effective and enjoyable.

A solid 7 out of 10 for me.

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