Tuesday, June 24, 2008

"Get Smart" Did

If you check rottentomatoes.com, you'll find this movie hits a 53% on the T-Meter. For reasons unknown to mankind, The Incredible Hulk and Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay ranked higher.


Clearly, the critics of this country are stressed. Clearly, they could use a good muffin.

Muffins play a key role in the movie, but I'm getting ahead of myself. Get Smart is sharp and clever, brilliantly casted, acted, and produced. The action sequences are just as good as any you'd see in a Bond flick; no bad green-screen here.

I've never seen the TV show. I wasn't around when it aired the first time, I didn't grow up with cable to see the reruns. I knew going in that shoe-phones were used, that Maxwell Smart maybe wasn't, well, smart, and that Agent 99 was the token girl. But I've been giggling over the previews since they first appeared - something about the falling beads just kills me. Probably my British heritage, which isn't strong enough to be amused by Mr. Bean but still finds sequences like this to be funny:

Siegfried: How do I know you're not from CONTROL?

Maxwell Smart: If I were from CONTROL, you'd already be dead.

Siegfried: If you were from CONTROL, YOU'D already be dead.

Maxwell Smart: Neither of us is dead, so I'm obviously not from CONTROL.

Shtarker: That actually makes sense.

Very tricky. And that's not even one of the best parts.

So the movie goes like this - Steve Carell is Maxwell Smart, an analyst who aspires to the ranks of agent-hood. As an analyst, he listens to hundreds of hours of Russian wiretaps (there's something so comforting about Russian villains). His superior, Alan Arkin, respects his abilities but won't promote him until there is a sudden, unexplained shortage of agents.

Smart is partnered with Agent 99, recently returned to CONTROL with a new face. The new face looks a lot like Anne Hathaway, which isn't a bad way to go. I've liked Anne Hathaway since the Princess Diaries, although Becoming Jane tested my loyalty. Her Agent 99 is pitch-perfect - smart, sexy, but is also in posession of a soul.

Together, they infiltrate the Russian organization set to nuke L.A. The KAOS tactics are perhaps a little...complicated...involving the Walt Disney Concert Hall, Beethoven's 9th Symphony, and the President (James Caan, how great is that).

(Side note: After the completion of the Concert Hall, people noticed that perhaps convex mirrors in L.A. was not the best idea. People were blinded by the glare of the reflection, and the residents in the apartment complex across the street found their homes reaching an interior temperature of 120 degrees. Engineers had to go back and put a non-reflective coating on the trouble spots.)

I haven't even mentioned Dwayne Johnson, as Agent 23, or Terrence Stamp as the caluculating Siegfried, or Nate Torrence and Masa Oka as the CONTROL engineers and keepers of the gadgetry. All top-notch.

Steve Carell is quickly shaping into one of Hollywood's top funnymen. Most people know him through The Office, but he demonstrated a surprising range roles such as Dan in Real Life. He brings that range to Maxwell, saving him from being a characature. Sure, he frequently misses it by "that much!", but there are times when he saves the day with style.

(Gilmore Girls note: if Shtarker the sidekick looks familiar to you, it's because he's Jesus, Miss Patty's date from the "Take the Deviled Eggs" episode. Somehow, I don't think Miss Patty would be much deterred by his Russian-terrorist past.)

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