A revamped 60s comedy series starring big screen mainstay Steve Carell, Dwayne “don’t call me The Rock or I’ll smash your face” Johnson and casting wild card Anne Hathaway. Expecting it to be a bit lame? I was.
Especially considering some of the negative buzz that surrounded it in early debates and the long-lead reviews. But I’m pleased to report that it’s actually not that bad. It might be that I’m still reeling from some of the crap that’s been hurled my way this summer. We’ve had the pitiful Baby Mama waving big names from past and present in our faces in the hope of a smile, Mike Myers talking a heck of a lot about poop and penises in The Love Guru and Eddie Murphy digging the final few spadefuls of dirt from his already incredibly deep cinematic grave in Meet Dave; so whilst I hope to convince you that this movie is amusing, do bear in mind the comedy wasteland I’ve faced this summer.
Some reviewers would have you believe that this movie merely hangs on to its audience through the irreverant charm of the ever popular Carrel. It’s true that he manages to keep up his buffoonish lovable demeanour that we’ve all gotten to know so well, but what’s best about this film is that it does the simple things right. Drawing on the classic slapstick simplicity of Police Squad and the subsequent silliness of the Naked Gun movies, Get Smart gets most of its gags from indirect spoofs of the spy genre that are relevant enough to be funny without stooping to the boring observations of template trash like Meet the Spartans and Superhero Movie.
The basic plot is that Maxwell Smart is a researcher at a secret government agency set up during the Cold War, and he is desperate to become a field agent. One day the agency is infiltrated and the only option to ensure their continued safety is to send him out into the field on an extremely dangerous mission. It’s therefore unsurprising that silly gadgets and bungling agents are the staple ingredients of the humour, and it’s a sturdy basis, with a good dose of standard romantic subplot C to flesh it out. But on top of these come a few great moments that really got me going, anything that manages to follow the line “Are you thinking what I’m thinking?” with “I don’t know, where you thinking ‘Holy fuck, holy fuck, holy fuck – that swordfish nearly went through my eye?!” is good in my books.
Another plus point is that Get Smart manages to be both a passable comedy and a passable action movie. Sitting and watching doesn’t just feel like a wait until the next gag, or a loosely strung series of jokes, there are actually some pretty good action sequences too. Steve Carell is dropped from a plane, taken on a few car chases and even dragged along by a train; there are explosions, gun fights, fist fights and bomb threats: all of which means that even if I have summarised the quality of the movie as ‘passable’, there’s enough packed in there to warrant a viewing if you fancy a bit of fun. It’s certainly better than a lot that’s been churned out so far this summer.
This article was first posted on August 13, 2008