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Rental Review: Get Smart

October 18, 2008

By Chad Larson

When I was in the third grade, I feverishly scribbled almost every night on a notepad given to me by my grandfather. My nine-year-old mind taxed its contents, putting every bit of electronic and technological knowledge it had into this work, this masterpiece.

Finally, I showed my grandfather the finished schematic, and he explained to me in the way a grandfather only can, that there was simply no way we could fit a working cordless phone in to a shoe.

This is the first thing I thought of when I saw the teaser trailers of Steve Carell as Maxwell Smart, yet another in what seems like an endless stream of remakes of classic television shows and movies.

I like Steve Carell, and what red-blooded twentysomething male doesn’t like Anne Hathaway? However, the commercials just didn’t look that funny. I put off seeing it in the theaters. I don’t want to say that trite line about how the movie’s producers “raped my childhood” that go hand in hand with every scathing review of the latest additions to the Star Wars, Indiana Jones and Transformers franchises, but I could just tell from the get-go that this movie wasn’t going to be that great. It seemed like the movie was almost being aimed at children, to the point that when I saw a beer ad using the characters, it surprised me.

I will admit that I was pleasantly surprised with Get Smart. Carrell apes Don Adams pretty well, playing the bumbling-but-maybe-not-a-total-idiot intelligence analyst who dreams of being a secret agent. After a surprise attack on his agency’s base, he is partnered with the nameless Agent 99 (Hathaway) to uncover a plot by KAOS, the requisite evil agency out to destroy the world.

As a fan of the original show, I absolutely loved all of the throwback references. Agent 13, who would often be inside a mailbox or a desk drawer in the old series, makes an appearance. A few of the surviving original cast members have cameos, and all of the old catchphrase lines are present.

The movie even offers a few decent action sequences, which were unexpected. The goofy humor is always present, but that was such a major part of the original show (which was a James Bond spoof if there ever was one) that it doesn’t feel out of place.

This just goes to show that you shouldn’t judge a movie by its trailer. Twice this week I’ve been surprised by movies I didn’t expect to be so great (this one, and Be Kind Rewind) and once disappointed by one I thought would be good (The Strangers). Trailers these days are so cleverly edited that they can’t even be trusted to represent the movie correctly.

This movie is not necessarily kid-friendly, as I originally thought. There is a fair amount of strong language and some brief nudity (Not Anne Hathaway, though – although I’m sure half the guys reading this just clicked over to one of those celebrity skin sites). Nothing worse than your typical PG-13 movie would have, though.

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