Warner Bros. // 2008 // 110 Minutes // Rated PG-13
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // November 10th, 2008
Hey, that guy's talking into his shoe!
A resuscitated television property given a modern feature film rebirth? Usually leads to a brutal movie-going experience. With comic heavyweight Steve Carell (Evan Almighty) in the lead, joined by achingly beautiful Anne Hathaway (The Princess Diaries), does the re-imagining of Get Smart have a shot?
Maxwell Smart (Carell) is the finest analyst in the covert spy agency CONTROL. But he longs to get his hands dirty in the field, screwing around with high-tech gadgets, rappelling off of walls and beating back the sinister forces of KAOS. Only when CONTROL's HQ is hit does Max finally get his shot at fieldwork, dispatched to track down the KAOS operative responsible.
He's partnered with Agent 99 (Hathaway), one of the elite agents, and shuttled off to Russia to get to the bottom of what appears to be a diabolical scheme to detonate a nuke in Los Angeles. Dwayne Johnson and Alan Arkin co-star.
The good news: this is better than I expected. The not-so-good news: it's still not that great.
Get Smart has a bit of an identity crisis going on -- is it an action movie? A comedy? There a major ingredients from both genres, but I don't quite think its works as a hybrid. Crafting an "action-comedy" is challenge, because you're obviously going to sacrifice some of the gravitas necessary for generating authentic suspense.
There is action to be found, and I was surprised by the burliness of the sequences, particularly the big train-plane-SUV-chase finale. Throw in some gunplay, punching, kicking, explosions and sexy slinking in between laser beams and you've got the makings -- on-paper at least -- of a genuine actioner. But the caveat applies -- the comedy is so goofy that the frantic moments are sapped of tension.
Thankfully, the comedy works. It is ridiculous and laden with slapstick, but I laughed. Max's entanglement with a misfiring crossbow in an airplane restroom? Hilarious. David Koechner and Terry Crews? Hilarious. Max's method of stunning the bad guy in the end? Uh, predictable, but still funny. (Speaking of predictable, if you don't know who the Super Secret Bad Guy is immediately, then you need your Movie Watching License revoked). Like any comedy, the gags are uneven, but the net ratio is on the positive.
Carell and Hathaway are okay, though I had a hard time buying their relationship. That's probably because Carell is so monotone and deadpan throughout the whole thing it wasn't easy picturing him a romantic. Hathaway has a thankless job as the "straight man/spunky spy girl," but, again, she's such an exotic presence, I doubt you'll notice.
Overall, I'd recommend you give this a look, especially if you're looking for a lightweight, popcorn diversion. Just keep your expectations in check. The action is eye candy but little else, and the laughs are hit and miss but very funny when they do hit.
A solid Blu-ray from Warner Bros. The video quality is impressive, transferred in a crisp 1.85:1 high-definition. It's not quite glistening with that HD sheen, but the bump in quality is noticeable. One big complaint though -- and this is more of a substance nitpick than any thing against the technical merits of the disc -- because the detailing is sharp, it betrays some really shifty CGI work, particularly in the plane chase sequence. Man, I hate CGI planes. Unfortunately, for fans of lossless audio, Get Smart only comes with he standard 5.1 Dolby Digital mix, though it does sound perfectly fine, and kicks into a nice, aggressive groove during the big-time action stuff.
Extras: A in-feature option that stream alternate takes, which works a little clumsily, but often the takes are funny; a segment on director Pete Sega's inclusion of references to the TV series; two behind-the-scenes featurettes focusing on the stunt training and location shooting in Moscow; some goofy improv footage with Carell; a gag reel; and, finally, a series of outtakes from the vomit scene, which, actually was another pretty hilarious moment from the film. Two other discs in the set: a DVD interactive game which requires memorization (agh!) and a digital copy.
The movie is a mixed bag, but ultimately earns a thumbs up. Warner Bros. issues a nice Blu-ray.
Review content copyright © 2008 David Johnson; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2015 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Warner Bros.
* 1.85:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p Widescreen)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (French)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Portuguese)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Spanish)
Running Time: 110 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13
* Alternate Takes
* Gag Reel
* Bonus Footage
* DVD Game
* Digital Copy
* Cinema Verdict Review