16 June 2008

Get Smart

The base theatre had a sneak preview of Get Smart Saturday night. I wasn't really sure what to expect of it - I knew next to nothing about Anne Hathaway, I'd never even heard of Steve Carell, and I still have neither seen a trailer nor read a review. And frankly, after The Nude Bomb, I was more than a little dubious about the whole thing.

12-year-old K wasn't interested, but 10-year-old A (who has seen trailers) went with N and me. We all loved it. I can't even remember the last time I laughed that hard. At anything.

Presumably everybody already knows the premise - Maxwell Smart (CONTROL Agent 86) is a bumbling secret agent, originally in a '60s TV show which parodied the secret-agent genre.* The head of CONTROL was known as the Chief, and Max's ever-competent partner (and, eventually, wife) didn't seem to have any name other than "Agent 99."

They had me right from the beginning. I was very happy to see that, unlike some movies based on TV shows (The Wild, Wild West comes strongly to mind), this one had the beginning titles backed by the original theme music, with Max walking down that corridor with all the doors (fancier, high-tech doors, but the idea's the thing) slamming shut behind him, and then dropping through the floor of the phone box to reach CONTROL headquarters.**

Carell doesn't have all Don Adams's mannerisms, but he was an excellent excellent choice for the starring role. In some scenes he even manages to look like Adams. And he delivers all of the classic lines - "Sorry about that, Chief," "Would you believe ... ?" and "Missed it by this much" - perfectly, with none of them appearing at all forced (as in, "The audience is going to expect him to say this, so we'd better include it somewhere.")

I don't think Hathaway is anywhere near near as pretty as Barbara Feldon was, but she is decorative and does well as an updated, 21st-century 99.

Alan Arkin is getting old (hard to believe it's over 40 years since The Russians Are Coming the Russians Are Coming!), but he makes a good Chief, taking a much more active part in affairs than Ed Platt's character ever did.

I really like Dwayne Johnson. I've seen other movies starring professional rasslers (Hulk Hogan, Rowdy Roddy Piper), and wasn't particularly impressed, but The Rock turns in an excellent job as incredibly competent Agent 23. I'm looking forward to seeing more films with him.

The movie is set in the present day, so computers and cell phones are everywhere. At the beginning, though, Max walks through a museum exhibit on the old days of CONTROL, and we see Max's little red Sunbeam Tiger and the famous shoe phone. And he actually gets to use both of them later in the film. Hymie the robot shows up, too - at the very end. (Are they already thinking of a sequel? Fine with me!)

We give the film a definite three thumbs up. N's favourite scene, I think, was the briefing with the Vice President. I don't really have a favourite scene, but I think "Would you believe, Chuck Norris with a BB gun?" was definitely the best line (followed by "It was on page 476 of my last report. Doesn't anybody ever read my reports?").

* The first James Bond movies, with Sean Connery, were being made about that time, and they led to comic books (Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD), serious TV shows (The Man fom UNCLE) and this.

** Personally, I'd rather just walk through a secret door in the back of a tailor shop, but YMMV.

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