Ticket price: 10.99
Seat: Lower right
Attendance: about 40
Weather: Clear, warm
Food: Frozen yogurt, Coke
Pre-show ads: Toyota, McDonald’s, Vitao
Hellboy II – I saw this earlier today and was impressed. Hellboy has turned out to be one of the best comics-to-film franchises.
Madagascar 2 – I hope I never see this movie (see last week’s comments on animation), but I guess the penguins are kind of amusing.
Star Wars: The Clone Wars – Again, see the comments on animation. I am not enough of a Star Wars fan to know where this fits in with the movies or what makes it worth seeing, but I guess I probably will go when it gets here.
The Dark Knight – I saw this earlier today too and was not super impressed, but there’s no time to go into all that here.
Get Smart was created in the mid-60s by the great Mel Brooks and Buck Henry as a way to satirize and capitalize on the interest in secret agent stories, especially James Bond and his gadgets. As the opening scene reminds us, the cold war is now over; so what has become of the secret agents of CONTROL? In their own way, strangely enough, they have gotten more hardcore, just like Bond. Thankfully we don’t have to watch them taking shots to the balls with a knotted rope while tied to a chair.
Remaking a television show for the big screen is a tricky proposition at best. This film reminded me a lot of the recent Speed Racer film: so ridiculously faithful to the source material that you have to admire it even if you have no idea what the hell is going on. Steve Carrell is well-cast as Maxwell Smart, an analyst quickly promoted to Agent 86 by the Chief (Alan Arkin) after all regular agents are compromised by a security breach. He is partnered with Agent 99 (Ann Hatheway), who has just returned from having her face rearranged.
Max’s lack of field experience proves to be no problem as he manages to gradually impress his attractive partner. I quite liked this element of the film; minor script sins like poop jokes and fat jokes are offset by the fact that Max actually is quite smart, and able to adapt his knowledge from years of being an analyst. As a result, he wins us over just as he does Agent 99. And what about Agent 99? Ann Hatheway has become one hell of a beautiful young woman, with acting chops and comic timing to match. Fans of the original series should enjoy that her wardrobe often appears to include reproductions of pieces worn by Barbara Feldon.
Another pleasant surprise was the fact that even the smallest parts in the film are populated by some very funny people, including Larry Miller, Bill Murray, Patrick Warburton, Masi Oka, and so on. James Caan is also quite amusing as the President, The Rock does well in a tricky and demanding role, and Terence Stamp plays the head of KAOS with suitable gravity (his predecessor, Bernie Kopell, also makes a brief cameo).
This film is full of little touches and surprises that make it a real pleasure to watch, from the careful use of original series gimmicks like the shoe phone, to moments of physical comedy, to the use of Madonna’s “Four Minutes” over the credits. Even the original catchphrases (“would you believe..?”, “missed it by that much”) are used very effectively. Get Smart isn’t a perfect movie, but it is well worth seeing for those who like to laugh.
Crowd reaction at end of movie: positive
Weird credit(s): Visual effects by Money Shots
Credit cookie?: no
Opening next week: Step Brothers; X-Files: I Want To Believe; Brideshead Revisited; Boy A; American Teen
Hoping for: X-Files: I Want To Believe