Saturday, June 28, 2008

Seeing Good Comedy...and Loving It

I love having a good time at the movies, and tonight, I had a wonderful time watching Get Smart. I used to stay up late and watch the 1960s show on Nick at Nite making me a rather young long-time fan of Maxwell Smart and Agent 99. Having suffered through a few horrible TV-to-movie incarnations, hearing about this movie made me cringe a bit. Then I found out Steve Carell was stepping into Max's shoes, and I knew everything would be OK.

And Get Smart is more than OK. It is funny, amusing, entertaining, comical, uproarious... It was bloody hilarious. It's a very nice blend of action--high end explosions and fun car chases--mixed with comedy. Alan Arkin has, quite possibly, the funniest line in the entire movie. (It's after a car chase; you'll know what I mean.)

Since the movie has been plopped into the 21st century, the Cold War angle has been dropped. In fact, anything related to war has been dropped. Max's super secret agency CONTROL has been infiltrated by the superbad group KAOS, who threatens to reveal every agents name if the US government doesn't give them some ungodly amount of money. Of course, the US doesn't negotiate with terrorist, and since every single agent's identity has been compromised, Max and Anne Hathaway's Agent 99 (who's just recently had plastic surgery) are the only ones who are still clear for field work. The two are sent to Russia to destroy KAOS where, of course, many an antic happen.

Carell and Hathaway are well-paired. She's sexy and smart with some pretty darn good comic timing. He's sweet, bumbley, and surprisingly good with firearms.

There are choice supporting stints by Alan Arkin as The Chief and Dwayne "No Longer The Rock" Johnson as the macho Agent 23. Arkin, as I said before, gets some of the best lines in the movie plus he beats up a few people. Johnson is completely on his game, and I believe he's finally found his niche in family-friendly comedy. Also, be on the lookout for the cameo-heavy war room scene! I probably could have done without the many, many scenes that Masi Oka and Nate Torrence's Bruce and Lloyd were in. They're funny, but not that funny.

Amongst the fun cast, all the gags and all the action scenes, there's an identifiable human element at work. Agent 99 and Max are more like real people and move past the pratfall and high karate kicks. When things go badly, you actually find yourself a little worried about the characters instead of just waiting for the next big action scene. This empathy prevents Get Smart from being just another big, dumb summer comedy (like The Love Guru which I won't be seeing even if I flip by it on late-night cable).

Of course, there are people who won't like it as much as they loved the original show. There are people who won't like it because they wanted a straight comedy or a straight action movie, but this person did like it and recommends it to all.

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