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Get Smart

Movie title: Get Smart (2008)
Grade: C+ (2 ½ stars)
Rated: PG-13
Directors: Peter Segal
Producers: (Exec.) Bruce Berman, (Exec.) Steve Carell, Michael Ewing, Alex Gartner, Alan Glazer, (Exec.) Dana Goldberg, Andrew Lazar, (Exec.) Jimmy Miller, (Exec.) Brent O'Connor,
Charles Roven, (Exec.) Peter Segal
Starring: Steve Carell “Maxwell Smart,” Anne Hathaway “Agent 99,” Dwayne Johnson “Agent 23,” Alan Arkin “The Chief,” Terence Stamp “Siegfried,” Terry Crews “Agent 91,” David Koechner “Larabee,” James Caan “The President,” Bill Murray “Agent 13,” Patrick Warburton “Hymie,” Masi Oka “Bruce,” Nate Torrence “Lloyd,” Ken Davitian “Shtarker”
Genre: Comedy/Action
Summation: Maxwell Smart (Agent 86 for CONTROL) battles the evil forces of KAOS with the more-competent (and beautiful) Agent 99 at his side.
Spoilers ahead: No
In a word: cute

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The Forty Year Old Virgin’s Steve Carell (Maxwell Smart) is back, this time in a mildly funny but fairly entertaining secret agent parody, Get Smart. With co-star Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson (Agent 23) and Anne Hathaway (Agent 99), Smart is the agent-elect to save the world!

An evil organization known as KAOS, whose leader acquires nuclear weapons to establish power and rule the world, has infiltrated the U.S. database of CONTROL, a secret branch of the U.S. government responsible for the operation of spies. The cover of the agents is blown. Due to the crisis, the chief is forced to promote his analyst Maxwell Smart to the rank of agent. Smart, with his new and gorgeous (and far more competent) partner, Agent 99, the two strive to reclaim the world from the throws of death.

The movie struts its goods, but it doesn’t have all that much to strut. It’s not outrageously funny, and in not a few places it is quite stupid. You know things are going to be on shaky ground in a movie when Bill Murray does a cameo appearance as an agent assigned to hideout in a fake tree!

Get Smart is nicely cut and it moves along at just the right pace. The satire-enhancing secret agent gadgets are commendable and soften things up for the occasional laugh. The storyline deserves a few chuckles, like the two main villains (Terence Stamp, “Siegfried” and Ken Davitian, “Shtarker”) who contribute more than their share to the thin coat of comedy found in the movie.

My hat goes off to some truly funny moments throughout. The shoe phone was funny, as was the obese lady dancing scene, and a shot where Agent 86 is behind an unconscious Shtarker and is compelled to hoist up his big body (in a suggestive manner) to open the door. Those scenes, together with a few verbal exchanges, were funny—if only the director had made room for more of them!

What it could have had less of were some insulting clichéd takes, not the least of which is Smart getting knocked out by inhaling a blow-dart (how many times have we seen that tired old gag!), or a mouse coming from out of nowhere and crawling up the pant-leg of Smart as he’s about to cross under security laser beams.

When comedy is missing, the void is sometimes filled with silliness. And when the silliness shows up, it never comes off as funny. There are just not enough knee-slapping moments in the film to offset the borderline boredom or the oft-made retreats into wackiness.

Opinions differ on whether or not the movie identifies sufficiently with the original TV series Get Smart that ran from 1965-70. Not having seen the television show for myself, I can offer no opinion here. I leave it to the viewers of both the series and the movie to make that comparison for themselves.

Get Smart would be a good kid’s movie—minus the violence and some crude adult themes. But as it is, it makes an almost fitting family movie for families with more mature children.

I only wish more effort had been put into making an average summer fun film into a worthy belly-laugher, but it just didn’t happen. With Get Smart, we have a hopelessly average and, yes, “cute” comedy, but nothing more.

(JH)

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