Friday, December 5, 2008

Friday's Featured Film - 12/5/08

New movies are usually released to theaters every Friday, but who’s got 10 bucks these days to drop on a movie that may well be a load of crap? Given those odds, each Friday I offer an alternative on DVD that you can rent at your local video store (or in some cases, avoid at all costs). Some will be new releases, others you may have to hunt for, but all of them are available to light up your small screen should it be a lazy Friday night.

Get Smart

I love The Office. I think Steve Carell is one of the funniest actors of our time, and is to this decade what Jim Carrey was to the last – a hilarious everyman who can pull off both the silly and the serious with near equal effectiveness. When the trailers for his update of 60's spy spoof Get Smart began to hit theaters earlier this year, I was more interested than I figured I’d be. Most old TV comedies that get turned into movies don’t exactly turn out well (Starsky and Hutch still gives me chills). However, if ever there was an actor tailor-made to step into Don Adams’ shoe-phone, it’s Carell, and I wanted to see if he could pull it off. A couple weeks ago, Heather and I rented it, and I found it to be quite funny and a just-plain-fun movie.

Carell plays Maxwell Smart, an over-eager analyst for CONTROL – a spy organization from the Cold War that the CIA claims no longer exists. They tackle only the most secretive cases, and Max dreams of finally being promoted to agent status. However, despite his great aptitude for compiling intricate reports, his hand-eye coordination isn’t the world’s best. However, after an attack results in the death of most of CONTROL’s agents, Max is paired with the stunning and deadly Agent 99 (Anne Hathaway) and sent out to save the world. With star Agent 23 (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson) and The Chief (Alan Arkin) backing them up, Max and 99 attempt to halt the latest plot of the worldwide terrorist juggernaut, KAOS.

It’s the same cornball setup from the 60’s TV show, and the tone of the jokes is much the same, merely updated for our modern world. I think your enjoyment of the movie will likely hinge on your enjoyment of Carell – if you find him funny and charming, you be entertained, if not, this will be a long hour-and-change. I thought he was great, Hathaway had surprisingly good comedic timing playing the straight-man (er…woman), and the plot of the film was just tight enough to hold my attention as it basically served as an excuse to funnel Max and 99 into one sketch after another. Director Peter Segal (whose track record includes both charming surprises like 50 First Dates and embarrassments to humanity like Anger Management) skips many of the easy, dumb jokes common in this type of movie and generally plays it pretty smart. Even the movie’s action was entertaining enough, surprising in a movie that clearly is billed as a comedy. At the end of the day, though, it’s a solid comedy with a solid cast. It was a great popcorn film all-around, and I’d recommend it in a heartbeat. It’s nothing you’re going to remember five years from now, but for a fun Friday night at home, it’s a winner. - *** (out of 4)

Get Smart is rated PG-13 for crude humor and some language.

1 comment:

Darius said...

Agreed, very fun movie.