Friday, June 20, 2008

Get Smart

“I am not completely incompetent.”

Maxwell Smart (Steve Carell) is an analyst for CONTROL, a secret underground spy organization. Although intelligent, Max is clumsy, awkward, and is known for the mind-numbing level of detail he puts into his job.

When CONTROL is attacked by the terrorist organization known as KAOS, the Chief (Alan Arkin) has no choice but to make Max an agent and pair him with Agent 99 (Anne Hathaway), who has recently gone through plastic surgery (the reasons for which make less sense than anything else in the film), for an important mission.

That’s the basic outline of the plot, which never really seems to get developed past the outline stage. The film instead provides situations for Carell to get himself and 99 both into and out of danger, almost always making a fool out of himself in the process. Carell is good here, and there’s a nice playful chemistry which slowly develops with Hathaway. And Alan Arkin, and Dwayne “Stop Calling Me The Rock” Johnson provide some nice moments as well.

The trouble comes as the script doesn’t ask anything more than for Carell to be awkward, Hathaway to fall for him, and the rest of the cast to show up and hit their marks. More often than not you’ll be scratching your head and saying, well yes that’s funny (or at least not groan worthy), but why, other than to get laughs, is this sequence in the film? Max and 99 jump out of a plane, Max talks to an agent in a tree (Bill Murray), the other field agents are forced to be analysts. Does this provide some laughs? Sure, but none if it really makes much sense to the overall plot (or lack thereof) of the film. Had the time been taken to come up with a better developed story which gave these actors more to do the result would have been much more satisfying.

Get Smart has its moments, but nearly all come from rountines and situations which are all only loosely tied to the main storyline. Although it gets the style of the television show right (I like the look a lot, especially the door sequence) its reliance on gags and laughs wears a bit thin when stretched over 110 minutes. It feels too much like a a collection of better than averrage SNL skits put together than a complete film. There aren’t quite enough of these moments to make me recommend the film, but there are enough of them to keep it afloat and mildly entertaining throughout most of its running time. My recommendation? Wait for the DVD.

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