Tuesday, June 24, 2008


“GET SMART” (Steve Carell, Anne Hathaway, Alan Arkin & Dwayne Johnson)
Most critics hate this movie. I’m guessing they’re younger guys who don’t remember the ultimate silliness of the original series; in my 53 year old mind, they did it justice. In fact, I’d say this is the funniest ‘TV Show-turned-Featured Film’ since ‘The Simpsons Movie’... Okay, that wasn’t very long ago, but I will tell you that I found myself laughing out loud several times during ‘Get Smart’. Almost everything worked for me, & yes, I was a big fan of the old series; it, along with ‘F Troop’ were the epitome of ‘idiotic’ comedies from the 60’s. The formula is simple – ‘stupid’ people having jobs that require them to be intelligent and surviving thru dumb luck. Call it the ‘Pink Panther’ syndrome.
If done correctly (& it is a mighty fine line) it makes you laugh in spite of your better judgment. & this movie made me laugh – a lot. It was so funny, it made me forgive the little peccadilloes that seemed to ‘turn off’ other critics – the fact that Agent 99 (Anne Hathaway) is much too young to be Max’s love interest (This is explained in the film) and the fact that 99 doesn’t even like the bumbling Agent 86 and doesn’t want to be partnered with him. That the few times the humor doesn’t work is when they pay homage to the original series by using Smart’s catchphrases, ‘Sorry about that, Chief’, ‘Missed it by that much’ & ‘Would you believe...?’ I’m sure if they didn’t include those tribute lines, those same critics would have found fault with their exclusion.
I had no problem at all with the casting; Terrence Stamp as Seigfried plays his villainous role ‘straight’, but in the end it worked out fine & the cameo by Bernie Kopell was a welcomed sight – His Seigfried was my favorite character from the original show.
“Starker!!! This is KAOS, we don’t go ‘pffth’ here!” made me laugh every time.
I don’t see how casting anyone other than Steve Carell as Maxwell Smart would have worked at all. His similar look & mannerisms to Don Adams made him the perfect fit – Not as funny as Don because he was mimicking, but I’m actually looking forward to a sequel or 2 to see if Steve can make the role his own...
Alan Arkin started out a little too dry for 'The Chief', but loosens up quickly. As new character, 'Super Agent' 23, Dwayne Johnson does a commendable job - at his best when teaching Larrabee that his lackadaisical work habits aren't appreciated.
Critics I’ve read & heard have said the only thing this film has going for it is that it’s a decent ‘serious’ spy flick... these guys are nuts. This movie rarely takes itself seriously, and when it does, it blows the whole concept of what Mel Brooks created.
A major continuity flaw is so obvious you know that the director filmed it that way on purpose; Max is attempting to shoot off his handcuffs in an airplane bathroom & keeps missing (the miniature bow & arrow device he uses keeps shooting arrows into his face)
When he accidentally hits the eject button, Agent 99 comes to his rescue. When they finally reach the earth safe & sound, Max not only doesn’t have any arrows stuck in his face, he isn’t bleeding at all from the multiple wounds he inflicted moments before. Like I said, so obvious, it was done on purpose.
So, here I go sticking my neck out by raving about a movie most critics & audiences don’t seem to care for (ala “The Happening”) but I can only give you my honest opinion & that is I thought this was an exceptionally funny film – my wife and the small crowd we watched it with laughed heartily as well. If you’re a fan of the original series & you’ve seen ‘Get Smart’ & didn’t like, I’d like you to leave a comment & tell me why, because I don’t get where all this hatred is coming from – it totally cracked me up.


Alan Smithee said...

This movie was trying. Its makers were trying to overcome the tediousness of its plot, the banality of its dialogue, and the foolhardiness of attempting to inflate a half-hour sit-com from the 1960s into a feature-length film. Actors, director, and writers alike tried my patience.

I agree with Terry's refutations of common criticisms. For example, how can one dwell on Hathaway's being too young for Correll? That is all the critics have? How many Bond girls were within 15 years of Roger Moore's age when Roger Moore started? Have these critics seen any of the few hundred movies in which erstwhile leading men decades past their primes have cavorted with much younger women? Does "Atlantic City" strike a chord? Have you seen "Entrapment" yet -- Zeta-Jones is merely 39 years younger than Connery? Either "Sabrina" come to mind?

Thanks. I feel better now.

I rejoice that I shall never sit through this yawner again even for free. I shall see no sequels. "Mr. Bean" was funnier on television and in movies.

"Get Smart" is a movie marginally worthy of your attention when you can watch it on Cinemax while folding clothes or painting your toenails.

However, I cannot speak to the parts through which I slept.

terry r. said...

Alan Smithee paints his toenails? Am I the only one in a state of shock over that revelation?
If it didn't make me laugh so much, I'd be in complete agreement, but I didn't care about the plot (Did you ever when watching the TV series?) Did you catch the one reference to the old show that cracked me up when the name Dr. Claw was written down with (Craw) in parenthesis? If you were a fan of the series that HAD to get a chuckle out of you!
And I think it was because 86 & 99 are so well known to us older geeks that the critics complained about the age difference. & how can anyone complain about Zeta-Jones being paired with Connery when she's married to a real-life geezer? . . . & no comment on your regaling 'Mr. Bean' - we all have different funny bones.

Alan Smithee said...

I did not watch the television show often enough to get, even now, the Craw/Claw allusion.

I invoked "Mr. Bean" NOT because I found that TV show or film so funny but precisely because I found it soporific when not sophomoric. Although I concede that funny bones vary, I was hardly "regaling" anyone with the merits of "Mr. Bean." "Mr. Bean" is and was a colossal bore. I found "Get Smart" even worse. Sorry!

As for ages, let us create a scale. Barbara Feldon was nine years Don Adams's junior (99 and 86 respectively in the TV series); Hathaway is 19 years Carell's junior (99 and 86 respectively in the current film); Jane Seymour was 24 years younger than Roger Moore in his first turn as 007 ("Live and Let Die"); Zeta-Jones is 25 years Michael Douglas's junior (allegedly real life); Tanya Roberts was 28 years Moore's junior in Moore's last turn as 007 ("View to a Kill"); Julia Ormand was 35 years younger than Sean Connery ("First Knight"). On that scale, sir, Connery's 39 years on Zeta-Jones seems a bit excessive unless we invoke the late Anna Nicole Smith and J. Howard Marshall, Jr. (64 years difference).

On the other hand, across cultures and across ages girls have latched onto well-endowed [nyuk!] men, and geezers have snatched ingenues to try to preserve their manly vitality. [That works,of course, about as well as a combover disguises baldness, but do not tell the combers or the codgers.] Some critics and other moviegoers may resent having their noses rubbed into gendered differentials no matter how precedented.

Maybe what critics should have said was that Carell and Hathaway formed a pairing that was more incredible than most even in the movies. I do not see why that would be so. You and I could easily list more implausible pairings. "Mad Dog and Glory" (1993) ping-pongs Uma Thurman between Bill Murray and Robert DeNiro -- no stretching there.

Critics might try to figure out what kinds of people will likely enjoy "Get Smart" and what kinds will not. That analysis might fulfill critics' obligations to their readers/viewers/listeners. That critics fail to attain such understandings or make such arguments tells us more about critics' lassitude and ineptitude than about "Get Smart."

terry r. said...

After consulting a dictionary, I now have a grasp at what you were driving at, Mr. Smithee (& people say you're a 'hack' director!)
Being a balding, well-endowed geezer with a horrendous combover, I take umbrage at your remarks but will take my medicine like the codger that I am... Critics that try to 'figure' what type of audience a film will draw are the true hacks - I write my honest opinion so that the reader will know what to expect. I've been fooled by critics in the past (Spiderman 2, i.e.) but enough about other critics, in my opinion, "Get Smart" is just flat out funny & yes, the humor is sophomoric. Maybe I was just in the mood to laugh at something immature & this silly movie fit the bill. Perhaps when I see it again on TV next year, I won't find it so amusing. Are there any 'silly' movies that you feel are worth watching Al? Are there any May-December pairings that didn't turn your stomach? Since you say you didn't watch the original series very often, were you not aware that you were going to see a bumbling spy who thinks he IS just as sauve & sophisticated as James Bond (Sean Connery - not Roger Moore!) Could it be that Mr. Smithee is too educated to appreciate Max's antics as much as a 10th grade drop-out? Help me out, movie-goers - Are the critics right on "Get Smart" or is this one of those comedies that just us 'common' folk 'get'?
As always, A.S., thank you for your eloquent replies.

Kurt said...

I'm surprised you liked it. It did nothing for me. I'm learning that I'm not much of a Carrell fan. He falls into the same category that Will Ferrell does for me. I just don't think they are very funny. I do think though, that Carrell could pass in a drama. I can see that. That's how I felt with Stranger Than Fiction. I thought that was Ferrell's best performance.
If I was to personally reccomend it, I'd say save your ten bucks and rent it later.
Now I will be fretting I will be feeling the same way for Wanted a little bit later tonight.

terry r. said...

Hi Kurt, what can I say? 'Get Smart' tickled my funny bone; as for the Carell-Ferrell comparison,
they are both hit & miss for me - I didn't like 'Dan In Real Life', I don't find 'The Office' all that funny of a show(& I've given it plenty of chances) & Ferrell makes about 2 bad movies to every decent one, & I completely agree with your assessment of 'Stranger Than Fiction' - not only his best acting by far, but his best film as well. In a way I'd say Carell's performance in 'Little Miss Sunshine' had its 'serious' side (playing a gay man who had tried to commit suicide) but I liked Steve when he was on 'Th Daily Show' so I guess I do find myself rooting for the guy.
Thanks for writing in again.

eddie said...

i don't get what is so funny and great about steve carrell. tho i did like him in 40 year old virgin.
i think could have been a lot better.

terry r. said...

What can I say? It made me laugh. I can't pretend it didn't because everyone else thinks it stunk. I liked Steve Carrell on The Daily Show & so I'm rooting for him to succeed - that doesn't mean I'll give one of his films a rave review when I think it's garbage (See 'Dan In Real Life')