Thursday, January 21, 2010

“Get Smart” – I’m smarter already.

I’m going to give you some hope for me. Usually, I come down pretty hard on movies like “Get Smart;” movies that are silly, with really thin plots and questionable acting. This time, I’m going to be nice (shut up, it’s hard) because I was surprisingly entertained by this film.

“Get Smart” is based on the old television show of the same name about Agent 86, a bumbling agent for CONTROL (the good guys), who usually completes missions or “gets his man” with more luck than any twenty people. The movie is basically a long version of what I imagine as the pilot for the television show. We get to see how he becomes Agent 86 and watch him complete his first mission: locating some missing uranium and stopping KAOS (the bad guys) from using it to make a nuclear weapon and killing the president with it.

On the surface, the plot seems fine, but it comes together in a very haphazard way. The film starts with Maxwell Smart (Steve Carell) finding out that he has passed the field agent test, but is being denied a promotion because he is the best analyst in the agency. Fortunately, someone completely trashes their headquarters and exposes nearly all of their secret agents. This is the first example of one thing I would normally hammer. Considering the film begins by showing us a ridiculous amount of security checks to get into the facility, it was painfully obvious that it was an inside job. It was also a foregone conclusion that Agent 23 (The Rock, oh sorry, Dwayne Johnson) was the mole since it certainly wasn’t going to be Alan Arkin or Anne Hathaway.

From there, the movie is a mishmash of Carell being a klutz, Hathaway rolling her eyes at him, and the rest of the CONTROL guys bickering with each other in a headquarters that was rebuilt a little too quickly. But again, it was oddly entertaining, so I wasn’t bothered much.

What did bother me was a distinct lack of good comedy. Steve Carell delivered his lines in his usual way, but there were a couple of things that kept them from being funny. The first were the actors on the other side of Carell. With the exception of Alan Arkin, none of these people belong in a spy comedy. Hathaway and Johnson are too serious and come off as just uncomfortable. The rest of the cast just felt out of place, and by that I mean out of their league. The second is that the jokes just weren’t that good. Not even the considerable talent of Carell and Arkin could hide that fact.

After thinking about this film and seeing all of the holes, I still found myself entertained. Maybe it was because I knew the film was aimed at younger children. Maybe it was because I like Steve Carell. Or maybe it was because the television show it came from was made before 1970 and had a decent plotline to give to the film. It was nice that they didn’t follow in the rancid footsteps of “Charlie’s Angels,” “The Dukes of Hazzard,” and “Miami Vice.” Let’s just hope that the inevitable sequel can include a little humor.

Rating: Ask for four dollars back for your ticket. Your kids will like it, but you’ll be a little bored.

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