Wednesday 3 December 2008

Movie Review: Get Smart (2008)

It's always quite painful when a movie is desperately trying to be funny, and yet nothing is working. There were maybe two moments in Get Smart that were funny enough to crack a small smile. The rest of the movie is just sad, because watching blatant failure unfold over a long 110 minutes just hurts.

It actually does not matter what the plot is, but here goes, for the record. Intelligence analyst Maxwell Smart (Steve Carell), working for the super-secret agency Control, is pressed into action as a field agent and is teamed up with super Agent 99 (Anne Hathaway) to thwart the latest dastardly plot by the evil KAOS. If this sounds extremely tired, that's because it is, and unless you bring something new to the table, why exactly is everyone bothering?

So what goes wrong here? Let's start with a script by Tom Astle and Matt Ember that has almost no comedic wit, cleverness or sharpness. Maxwell Smart is somehow both inept and brilliant. Agent 99 is supposed to be the best field agent but yet needs to be saved by the inexperienced Smart more than once. The romance that supposedly develops between Smart and Agent 99 is contrived enough to cause inadvertent puking. And let's add one of the worst collection of bad guys ever assembled: each one has been swiped from another movie. In fact, Get Smart shamelessly rips off an entire parachute scene from James Bond's Moonraker movie. Finally, the movie falls into the infantile trap of believing that Big Scenes with Lots of Action will cover for the complete lack of interesting characters or any semblance of believable plot developments.

Carell seems to realize the script is nowhere near good enough for him to play Smart straight and come across as funny, and he is right. There is nothing that any of the cast members can do to rescue this dog, and Hathaway in particular will hopefully have learned to steer away from such stinky material next time she is sent a role for the "sexy super secret agent with a troubled past who falls in love with the bumbling nerd in a laugh-out-loud comedy".

Old famous faces like Alan Arkin, James Caan, Terence Stamp, and Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson (ok, some not so old nor famous) are rattling around in the background of this movie, and hopefully they enjoyed their pay cheques because they will not enjoy having this title on their resume.

Director Peter Segal demonstrates no deft touches, and just hustles the action along as the movie lurches from one set piece to another, stitched together with awkward tin-eared dialogue. He may as well have phoned in his instructions.

Get Smart is a movie that makes you appreciate other movies, you know the ones, where the action scenes are actually exciting and the comedy scenes are actually funny.

All Ace Black Blog Movie Reviews are here.

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