GET SMART ***

STEVE CARELL is adorable.

He’s incredibly cute, endearingly sweet and amusing. The self deprecating stance (as long as it’s not too broad) can work well for some. It definitely does for him.

He also has a quality that’s exceedingly rare in the acting field. STEVE possesses a genuine warmth and decency as a person and is able to project that easily in performance mode. He is someone that you automatically root for and immediately sympathize with in terms of a character.

At this moment in time, he is the only significant male presence in film that has that going for him. JULIA ROBERTS and JENNIFER ANISTON are two women that display those traits in abundance.

The plot of this film, such as it is, is hardly important if you’ve seen the classic TV series of the same name in reruns.

STEVE CARELL is MAXWELL SMART, an analyst that works for the counterintelligence agency CONTROL. (Similar to the CIA.)

The evil organization KAOS is killing CONTROL agents at a steady pace. So Max is promoted to a whole new level and becomes Agent 86. SIEGFRIED (he’s so unbearably wicked that he only has one name – played by the supremely elegant TERENCE STAMP) is the head of that dastardly group of shadowy figures. He won’t rest until he has control of KAOS…uh, control of CONTROL – I mean, the entire world.

KAOS…*ahem* Chaos predictably ensues.

As a season, the summer can be full of surprises in many respects. Certainly movies are one portion of that. This is one of them. But it’s decidedly good rather than a letdown.

Director PETER SEGAL has a genuine talent for action set pieces and uproarious comedy. Writers TOM J. ASTLE and MATT EMBER definitely excel at snappy dialogue and the construction of fresh situations.

STEVE CARELL is excellent. He puts his own particular spin on Max and he succeeds admirably. It was an absolute joy to see him and ALAN ARKIN together again.

Mr. Arkin’s Chief is a kindly but no nonsense mentor that has real affection for Max. He also has two hysterical scenes where he punches two different characters’ lights out. They had it coming…and the Chief does deliver on his promises.

ANNE HATHAWAY was fine in her one big scene at the end of BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN. Other than that, her work has been far from substantial.

But Anne gives a strong performance here. She clearly has a gift for comedy that had not surfaced in anything previous. (Certainly NOT in The Devil Wears Prada).

Anne has great chemistry with Steve and is the perfect foil for him. She matches wits, makes things happen and cleans up messes with wit and grace. Ms. Hathaway is also disarmingly lovely and sexy as hell. Plus, in the scenes where she has the wig, she’s a dead ringer for BARBARA FELDON – who played Agent 99 on the TV series.

Surprisingly, Anne was absolutely perfect. Her sleek, glamorous wardrobe was also rather cool.

TERENCE STAMP is the quintessentially nasty, overbearing visionary who is determined to run the universe to his own specifications. He’s wonderfully arrogant.

There is also some very fine work from some terrific actors in cameos: JAMES CAAN (as the President), BILL MURRAY (as Agent 13) and BERNIE KOPELL (who appeared on the TV series).

The entire cast exceeds expectations with the exception of Dwayne Johnson (aka The Rock), who plays Agent 23. He’s a good looking man with an engaging presence, but he’s not a believable actor. There were times when it appeared that he was reading lines off his costars’ foreheads.

But it was completely hilarious when he kidnapped Anne (who turned out to be his ex girlfriend). He accused her of being an undesirable romantic partner because she was too unfeminine and she kicked him in the head.

Nice shot, Agent 99…

Just in case you’re curious, there is a scene with a telephone booth and you do hear the familiar theme at some points. There is also a shoe phone.

GET SMART, for what it is (not to mention what it could have been), is much better than it had to be and is far superior to a lot of summer comedies. It is genuinely entertaining and very funny.

Ryan Seacrest is America’s sweetheart? Um, yeah…

6 Responses to “GET SMART ***”

  1. glimmer Says:

    hmm couple of comments about steve that popped in boxofficeprophets monday quarterback thing…

    Kim Hollis: If we include Get Smart as a likely $100 million earner, Steve Carell has quietly accumulated six $100 million movies on his resume since 2003. Is it time to think of him as a box office draw or has he been lucky rather than good for the most part?

    Joel Corcoran: That’s a tough question to answer, but I don’t think Steve Carell himself as an actor is what brings people into his movies. Personally, I couldn’t come up with a good way to describe a “Steve Carell movie,” but I could very easily define a “Will Ferrell movie” or an “Adam Sandler movie.” In Carrell’s case, the movies don’t seem to be vehicles for his particular talents or styles of comedy, it’s more like he’s very good at picking good projects that he can readily adapt to.

    Eric Hughes: I’m in agreement with Joel in that Steve Carell knows how to pick good projects. But I think because of that, we in effect know what we’re getting with a “Steve Carell movie.” Though here it works a bit different than say Will Ferrell, who seems to play the same loud-mouthed, obnoxious character over and over again, but in a different environment. With Steve, you just know you’re getting something “good,” whether its comedy that is smart (The 40-Year Old Virgin), subtle (Dan in Real Life), or more physical (Get Smart).

    hmm..and this gonna floor you/i’ve never seen a steve movie. ha ha… πŸ™‚

  2. Thank you for that, my precious glim. I knew I could count on you…

    Truthfully, I haven’t seen Steve in much. I saw ANCHORMAN fairly recently on TV. It’s the kind of film that’s so patently ridiculous that you have to laugh. There’s just no way around it. But I did think it was genuinely funny.

    He was also in Bewitched, which was passable. He was cast as Uncle Arthur and he was absolutely perfect for that. Bewitched isn’t much but there’s no way that it’s nearly as bad as what people are saying. With Nicole as Samantha and Shirley MacLaine as Endora the casting was dead on. You couldn’t have better modern actors embodying those roles.

    But Steve did a brilliant thing. So either he or his people were doing something right. In LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE, he played Frank, the gay suicidal uncle. Now, LMS is technically a comedy but it has a rather large thread of melancholy running through it. Frank’s attempt at offing himself is definitely not played for laughs.

    That’s the genius of LMS. I was endlessly impressed when I saw it (twice) and I own it. It is one of the funniest films I’ve ever seen (especially the bit at the end, with Olive at the beauty pageant) but it doesn’t pull any punches with the problems and dilemmas that the characters face. It has a heart but it also has some solid drama built into it.

    Anyone that sees that movie would know after viewing it that Steve has a wide range and is very capable of taking on serious parts with some depth to them.

    I’ve idolized ALAN ARKIN since I was a kid. I was ecstatic when he won the Oscar for LMS. (All I can say is, it’s about time…) But I really, really wish that Steve had been nominated too.

    Well, Steve has certainly established that he can do anything. If his comedies are making substantial amounts of money, then it will be easy for him to branch out. He’s not just a nice guy. He’s a really fabulous, talented actor.

    But it’s great to see someone so decent do so well.

    Thanks again, glimster…

  3. glimmer Says:

    m., the cool thing about anne is that yep i (dis)graced craig page with this info. now it’s your turn….

    a fav song of her’s is…

    http://www.celebwarship.com/wp/?p=3449

    that’s the sort of points that having a decent figure or even being a good actor can’t buy…. πŸ˜‰

    really m. i think this one of the best celeb quote quotes ever. oh well pretty surprising….

  4. I heard that all ready, glim. A LONG TIME AGO.

    I hate to be cynical as I have a new found appreciation for Anne, but…

    For those of you that are uninitiated, Anne Hathaway has claimed (on several occasions, I believe) that she’s not nearly as wholesome as her image would suggest. Her all time favourite song (apparently) is FUCK THE PAIN AWAY by Peaches.

    I don’t know. This sounds suspiciously like reaching to me. Like she’s going for street cred or to attempt to create a different impression of herself. Possibly to get a wider variety of roles?

    I’m not acquainted with Ms. Hathaway personally. So I have no definitive answer.

    Let’s just say there are some questions in my mind…

    But thanks, glimster…

  5. m.

    i think the only way for her to really get across that she isn’t as wholesome/is to…uh well leak a sex tape…

    but really going with anne’s age it isn’t too surprising that she may like peaches. but mentioning f**k the pain away does get more press attention…)

    i’m sure many celebs may like stuff that works within the ‘pop’ music format that they like but/yet isn’t hollywood sound track bound.

    (but i guess they won’t mention it. because it may seem ‘weird’ to their audience ??)

    and i’m sure you’ve met whatever number of people whose musical interest(s) doesn’t mesh with what you’d thought they’d like/how you’d perceive them.

    got to love the surprises…

  6. You have an excellent point, glim. As always.

    Thanks for that, honey…

    EDIT: Just out of curiosity, I FINALLY found the infamous song in question and actually listened to it. (If I’m not mistaken, wasn’t a cover of that playing in one scene in Lost In Translation? Sounds kind of familiar to me…)

    No big whoop. Even though I’ve only been on the planet for 20 odd years, I find it eminently hysterical that every ten years or so (maybe twice a generation) these new chicks and dudes come around and think that they invented sex. Even though the 1960s and 70s were fairly raw and experimental in terms of their respective places in modern history, that kind of extremism and decadence has all been done – many times before – in earlier eras.

    So all you little posers, hipsters and various too cool for school types can put your animal crackers away. This is a very old story…and it’s been going on for centuries now.

    Can’t help it. It just makes me giggle…

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