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I was able to see a sneak preview of Get Smart, so I might as well be a good little toadie and put up a review.  Based on the TV show (co-created by Mel Brooks(!) and starring Don Adams and Barbara Feldon), Get Smart is quite funny and has surprisingly decent action.  And I’m fairly certain those are all you really need from an action-comedy.

When I heard about Steve Carell in this role, it made a whole a lot of sense.  Anyone familiar with the series and Carell’s work would likely agree he was THE person to play the role, because it plays right into his strengths.  And he does a fabulous job.  I also think those who somehow aren’t big Steve Carell fans will be able to tolerate him here because the movie sort of tones down the Maxwell Smart character into something a little more digestable.

Anne Hathaway is…wow.  She’s pretty much the definition of classically beautiful.  She’s the type of girl you bring home to meet your parents, and your mother not only loves her, but tells her she could do better than you.  She’s…well…darn near perfect.  And I’m not just talking about her beauty.  She’s not going to be an action star, but she handles the action scenes nicely.  But comedy is a huge strength for her.  99 was always the sane, logical one in the operation, generally playing the straight man (or, woman, I suppose) to Max, but often knowlingly supplying a Mel Brooksish punchline.  Again, the character has been smoothed over a bit, but the casting was inspired.

The supporting cast is really spot on.  I’m an Alan Arkin fan (who isn’t?)  so I would have liked a bit more for him, but he’s funny.  Dwayne Johnson really has, in my mind, earned the right to drop “The Rock” when describing him.  He can do action and comedy (sure, particularly physical comedy).  His role in the movie isn’t particularly new fare for him, but it is a good fit.  There’s ton more, I’m not usually a David Koechner fan, but he’s funny, especially when playing off Johnson and Terry Crews (who is totally the man).  Masi Oka and Nate Torrence (from Studio 60!) are absolutely hilarious as the nerds, and you’ll no doubt find yourself wanting to see more of them.

I didn’t love James Caan’s quasi-Bush impersonation.  It felt out of place and unnecessary.  I also wasn’t sold on Terence Stamp as the bad guy, but others seem to feel differently.  I didn’t think he was bad, just didn’t knock it out of the park.

The film (written by Tom J. Astle and Matt Ember) does feel pretty close to the original.  As I mentioned, I think Maxwell Smart and Agent 99 were softer versions of themselves, which I think sells better, but I sort of missed a bumbling Smart who managed to escape situations either through luck or the sheer genius of his imbecility.  The plot isn’t anything novel, it has a few unsurprising twists, but I don’t think summer popcorn fare really need to have unique stories.  The movie is chock-full of gags and one-liners, and most of them hit.  I laughed way more than I expected to.  I’ve heard some people have a problem with the age difference between Carell and Smart.  I don’t really understand why that sort of thing would bother people (the movie does make an attempt to explain it), but they definitely have an on-screen chemistry.  I don’t think their buildup is handled particularly effectively, though, it just sort of seems like, “Well, everyone in the audience expects these two to end up together, so, let’s put them together.”

I enjoyed Get Smart.  In many ways, it is the ideal summer movie.  Fun story with fun characters, entertaining action scenes and a plot not really veering into the ridiculous, but which doesn’t require too much thinking.

June 2008
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