Sunday, June 22, 2008

Get Smart

"Get Smart" seems an odd title for a movie that's not about a dumb guy. Steve Carell as Maxwell Smart is an accomplished analyst who wants desperately to become an agent, so desperate, in fact, that he lost over a hundred pounds to get himself in shape.

Get Smart, of course, is based on the highly successful and popular '60's sitcom starring Don Adams and Barbara Feldon. Adams' Smart was not terribly, and Feldon's 99 filled in the blanks for him. The problem with the 2008 version is not only that Smart's smart, but that -- worse -- he's not funny.

But most people around him are. I really enjoyed Dwayne (Rock) Johnson's caricature of a super-agent. And Alan Arkin as the Chief, a feisty old guy who's not acting so old. There are little bits that are terribly funny -- Max's dance with a large woman, for instance. But these little bits don't make for a whole movie. And what little bits that are funny, like Johnson's agent, aren't played out long enough. There's no real sense of timing, comic rhythm.

I must admit that I dreaded seeing the movie because 99 wouldn't be, well, 99. Barbara Feldon was so wonderful as the agent-without-a-name, the foil to Maxwell Smart, and I knew that I'd miss her. The good thing here is that 99 is a completely different character, a woman who's taken a backseat to men before, but who is skilled in her own right, and doesn't want to drag along a newbie who is constantly getting her into more difficulty. Anne Hathaway is her own woman, not Maxwell Smart's woman, and is a lot of fun to watch in the new version.

So, what do we have? We have an action movie that doesn't succeed as an action movie. We have a comedy that's not terribly funny. We have a leading man who is trying to be more a leading man, less a foil to others, and is just plain not funny. We have funny little bits and pieces interspersed among longer, boring scenes.

We have a movie that just doesn't work. Thumb's down.

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At 3:05 AM, Blogger Patrick Roberts said...

Get Smart looks okay overall... but Steve Carell seems to be veering more and more toward a predictable, slapstick-style humor


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