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The Warsaw Voice » Culture » August 13, 2008
Film review
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Get Smart
August 13, 2008 By Witold Żygulski   
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Action movies and James Bond-style spy thrillers get spoofed quite frequently, but such parodies usually meet with mixed reception-suffice to mention Spies Like Us by John Landis from 1985, and Johnny English by Peter Howitt from 2003. Both have lots of avid fans, yet an equally large group of viewers dismisses them as trash. The same is bound to happen to Get Smart by Peter Segal (The Longest Yard, 50 First Dates), a big-screen adaptation of a popular American TV serial from 1965 that was revived in 1995.

If slapstick and toilet humor are acceptable for you, then you will probably have a lot of fun, but if you have a problem with that, then you should steer clear of this movie.

The main characters were invented all those years ago by Mel Brooks. In the movie, agents of a secret American organization named Control battle villains from Kaos, an international group of terrorists and dealers in weapons, including weapons of mass destruction. Other than that, it is pointless to even try to sum up the plot, because a coherent script is something you are unlikely to find in this 110-minute effort.

The main hero is Maxwell Smart (Steve Carell-Evan Almighty, The 40 Year Old Virgin), an analyst with Control who dreams of landing a frontline job like that of Agent 23 (Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson-The Scorpion King). As luck has it, Smart does get a chance to test himself in action, and even better, he is assigned a female partner, Agent 99 (Anne Hathaway-The Devil Wears Prada). The Control chief (Alan Arkin-Rendition, Little Miss Sunshine) assigns the two agents with a task to track down evil Siegfried (Terence Stamp-Dead Fish, The Limey), who is planning to blow up Los Angeles, no less.

A sprinkling of well-known and once-interesting actors of the older generation cannot save Get Smart, as their roles are restricted to spouting silly lines and making menacing faces. The younger actors are a total failure. Carell's performance is lackluster and even when he gets a chance to shine he ends up colorless despite his titanic efforts. Hathaway, in turn, is confined to being a typical "Bond girl," something she clearly does not feel comfortable about. With such a cast, The Rock, a professional wrestler in real life, comes across pretty well, because at least he does not pretend to be a professional actor.

Moviegoers familiar with both serious and less serious action films made over the past few decades will easily spot familiar scenes in Get Smart. For example, Hathaway recreates Catherine Zeta-Jones's acrobatics amidst laser beams in Entrapment by John Amiel from 1999. However, the scene comes across as a tacky rip-off of the original.

Aside from parodies of famous action movie moments, the makers of Get Smart treat viewers to a stream of gags and jokes based on urinating, defecating, vomiting and the main character's pants getting ripped in the area around the bottom of the spine. Last but not least, in what seems to be the Hollywood norm during the past two presidential terms, the American president (James Caan-The Godfather, Mickey Blue Eyes) is portrayed as an ever smiling moron who falls asleep at a classical music concert and only gets excited at the sight of a brawl, which he mistakes for an integral part of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony.
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