Case Number 14204: Small Claims Court

GET SMART'S BRUCE AND LLOYD OUT OF CONTROL

Warner Bros. // 2008 // 71 Minutes // Rated PG-13
Reviewed by Judge Erich Asperschlager // August 6th, 2008

The Charge

"Americans spying on Americans. That seems so..."
"Patriotic?"
"Exactly."

The Case

What's the best way for a movie studio to cash in on nostalgia? Take a beloved television property and turn it into a summer blockbuster. What's the second best way? Take that summer blockbuster remake of a beloved television property and spin off two minor characters into their own DVD, released to coincide with the release of the film. Oh, and you make it just over an hour long.

Get Smart's Bruce and Lloyd Out of Control is, as the title points out, a spin-off of the feature film remake of Get Smart, starring the gadget-inventing duo Bruce (Masi Oka, Heroes) and Lloyd (Nate Terrence, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip), forensics tech Nina (Jayma Mays, Epic Movie), and CONTROL's Underchief (Larry Miller, A Mighty Wind) -- all trying to recover the top-secret Optical Camouflage Technology (your basic invisibility cloak) from the dictator of a fictional South American country.

Bruce and Lloyd's biggest problem is its limited appeal. I can see where Warner Bros. thought a DVD release timed with the theatrical release of a major film was a good gamble. Best case scenario, Get Smart does huge numbers, reinvigorates the franchise, and leaves a quivering audience hungry for all things Smart -- even a direct-to-DVD spin-off. Worst case scenario, the film bombs, the franchise languishes, warehouses fill with unsold DVDs, and everyone waits for The Dark Knight to come out and be the biggest film of all time -- after which everyone goes out and buys gold-plated speedboats.

Get Smart's actual fate falls somewhere between those scenarios (gold-plated speedboats notwithstanding). The film garnered mixed reviews and decent box office returns -- enough to make a profit, but not enough to guarantee boffo sales for Bruce and Lloyd. Trouble is, if you haven't seen Get Smart, you're not going to get much out of this movie. Even if you have seen Smart, you'd have to really, really love that film's universe to not mind that Max, the Chief, and KAOS are reduced to namedrops in this one. The only major-leaguer who makes an appearance in Bruce and Lloyd is Anne Hathaway's Agent 99, though only for a brief, disjointed cameo -- a one-sided telephone conversation -- obviously filmed on the set of the "real" movie and held for inclusion in this one.

The good news is that if you're actually interested in the adventures of Get Smart's second-stringers, Bruce and Lloyd isn't that bad. It feels like the JV team, but there's enough action and humor to maintain momentum for just over an hour.

Masi Oka and Nate Terrence play the title duo with competence. The material's not great, but they do what they can with it. Rounding out the list of characters who also appear in the feature film (however briefly) are Patrick Warburton as the unfortunately-named robot "Hymie," Kelly Karbacz as sullen receptionist Judy, and Larry Miller in an expanded role as the Underchief -- Bruce and Lloyd's boss and CONTROL's second in command behind the Chief.

Newcomers include J.P. Manoux (Knocked Up) as abused techie Neil, and Nina, the requisite love interest/female sidekick (Jayma Mays, who Heroes fans will recognize for having played "Charlie" opposite Oka in season one). Smart, pretty, and cool, she complements her male counterparts and makes the out-of-place romantic subplot somewhat plausible -- something I can't say for Lloyd's awkward pursuit of sultry sexpot Marika Dominczyk's (Brothers & Sisters) Isabelle.

The romance angle is just one of many weird additions to Bruce and Lloyd. Like Get Smart, this movie is rated PG-13, which it earns for mostly unnecessary swearing and sexual humor. Given the light, family-friendly feel of a story that includes Wii Sports tennis, the crude stuff seems like a misguided attempt to woo a teenage audience "too cool" for PG. Too bad. The only real shot a movie like this has at longevity are parents looking for a digital babysitter.

Bringing Bruce and Lloyd's paltry 71 minutes (including closing credits) up to near-feature length are a middling slate of extras that include a quarter-hour's worth of character "confessionals," a look at make-up effects for the victims of an "anti-follicular" ray gun, and a head-scratching 12-minute featurette where scientists relate Bruce and Lloyd's wacky weaponry to the real world. To their credit, it almost works. It's still a bit strange to see physics professors trying to imagine how a "tickle taser," or a foot spray that lets the user walk on the ceiling, might actually work -- but at least it's entertaining.

The DVD includes the movie in both full and widescreen format, and a decent 5.1 surround audio mix. The case has a holographic slip cover and a coupon for $7 off a ticket to see Get Smart in theaters. A nice touch, though it's not going to do you much good after July 31, 2008.

Like many of Bruce and Lloyd's signature gadgets, this DVD is ultimately a failed experiment. It's hard to fault Warner Bros. for anything other than greed in trying to cash in on a feature film that wasn't quite the hit they'd hoped. Even if Get Smart had become a Star Wars-like megahit, I doubt even that film's audience would have been interested in a separate movie dedicated to the adventures of the Mos Eisley barman or the Death Star gunner (though I could be wrong). It's hard to sit through Bruce and Lloyd without wishing you were watching Steve Carrell and Alan Arkin instead. If you're in the narrow slice of audience this DVD is meant for, though, go ahead and check it out. Everyone else can leave this particular government agency in the shadows.

Missed it by...well, a whole lot. Guilty.

Review content copyright © 2008 Erich Asperschlager; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC

Scales of Justice
Judgment: 70

Perp Profile
Studio: Warner Bros.
Video Formats:
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)

Subtitles:
* French
* Spanish

Running Time: 71 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13

Distinguishing Marks
* "Bruce and Lloyd Tech:" The "Real Science" Behind the Movie's Gadgets
* "Confessions of a Lab Tech"
* "Cue the Anti-Follicular Device"

Accomplices
* IMDb
http://us.imdb.com/title/tt1018723/combined

* Official Site
http://getbruceandlloyd.com

* Cinema Verdict Review - Get Smart
http://www.cinemaverdict.com/2008/06/22/review-get-smart/