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As requested--A Review

Whenever filmmakers sit down to do a film based on a beloved book, play, or television series, they take a great risk. Some people will never be satisfied. Some people will only be content with a slavish recreation of the original. Some people will only be content if the new film is so far from the original that the resemblance virtually stops at the name and the "based on" credit. So, right out of the gate, at least three groups of people will not be happy with Get Smart, starring Steve Carell and Anne Hathaway. And, frankly, they can bite me.

I laughed. Out loud. Right along with my movie companion and the rest of the people in the theatre. If you let it be, this is a charming, funny movie in its own right, and certainly lives up to the next to last screen of the credits: "For Don Adams [pause. reveal] and Edward Platt."

Is the movie "perfect"? No. In particular I was disappointed both that I figured out who the mole was before the halfway point and that they selected the character they did (though it was not quite as an egregious warping of character as was perpetrated by the makers of Mission: Impossible). And did we really need all the back story on both 86 and 99? I don't think so (though her back story did set up one of my favorite one-liners and takes in the film).

That said, they did well. Certainly the fact that original showrunner Mel Brooks and lead writer Buck Henry were consultants on the film helped. And, of all living actors, Steve Carell was the right choice for Max, and Hathaway has the same wide-eyed "Oh my God I can't believe what you're doing Max" expression as the hugely underrated Barbara Feldon. Carell's Smart is more competent than the Adams version, but just as hapless, and for a 2 hour film, that is probably necessary--ineptness works well for 25 minutes, but gets grating much beyond that. 99 was always the better agent, and in this version Hathaway's character is as well, at least to start. The character has been updated, without losing charm. She comes to respect and value Max, after a rocky start, and the evolution of the relationship worked for me (but then, I remember their first kiss in the original series).

Terence Stamp as the CHAOS functionary was appropriately cold and creepy, Patrick Warburton as Hymie got nowhere near enough screen time (but was perfect in his brief scene), and Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson was exactly who he was supposed to be, and proves yet again he is wasted in action films and should tell his agent to send him more comedies. Alan Arkin's "Chief" left me cold, but it was servicable, though CONTROL's two man "Q" team was...mostly annoying, and I fear their spin-off will be as well--despite the genuine talent of the two actors. James Caan, as the President, was...positively awful. And I'm not just talking about his obviously botched cosmetic surgery, either. Multiple cameos, some involving much beloved CHAOS guest stars from the original, were worth a smile.

As remakes go, this one did the job. It clearly has affection and respect for the original, without losing sight of the fact that it needs to be a film that doesn't rely on its lineage to be successful on the screen. If you fear another Dukes of Hazzard or Starsky and Hutch, rest easy. This is more along the lines of the first Charlie's Angels: a loving reflection with a mind of its own. Sit back, relax, and let it touch your heart--and your funny bone.



( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
Jun. 27th, 2008 11:37 pm (UTC)

Hooray! Thank you! Looking forward to seeing it now, thank you.
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )