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PCR #430 (Vol. 9, No. 25) This edition is for the week of June 16--22, 2008.

This Week's PCR
Movie Review
"Get Smart"

Movie review by:
Michael A. Smith

Movies are rated 0 to 4 stars

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The Tampa Film Review for June  by Nolan Canova, Terence Nuzum, Chris Woods, and John Miller
"Get Smart"  by Mike Smith
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Celtics Are Champs .... Somebody Check The Water! .... Willie Randolph Fired .... Tiger Tiger Woods Ya'll .... Partly Cloudy, No Storms .... Welcome Back To Tampa Lou! .... Let Him Go .... by Chris Munger
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Starring: Steve Carell, Anne Hathaway, Dwayne Johnson and Alan Arkin
Directed by: Peter Segal
Rated: PG 13
Running Time: 1 hour 50 mins

It’s very hard to please everyone when you’re making a film of a popular television show. Do you gloss it up so it’s almost unrecognizable (“Miami Vice”). Or do you keep the formula that worked and just advance the characters to the big screen (“The Brady Bunch Movie”)? You certainly couldn’t do a spoof of “Get Smart,” since the original series was already a spoof of the James Bond/Matt Helm/Our Man Flint films. Luckily, the producers went with the second choice and stuck with what worked, creating a film that would make creators Buck Henry and Mel Brooks shout into their shoe phones with joy!

Maxwell Smart (Carell) is one of the best analysts for CONTROL. He does his job very well. Maybe too well, as many of his reports exceed 400 pages. However, Max wants to be a field agent like his friend Agent 23 (Johnson). After passing the exam on the eighth try, Max is told by the Chief (Arkin) that he won’t be made an agent right away as he’s just too good of an analyst. Meanwhile Siegfried (Terrance Stamp), the evil leader of KAOS, has not only made a deal to purchase nuclear materials but he has conspired to wipe all of CONTROL’s agents. As Max himself might say, “Missed it by that much!”

“Get Smart” was one of the most popular television series of its time. Its star, the late Don Adams, won three consecutive Emmy Awards for his portrayal of Agent 86. It is an indelible performance that remains in our conscience 40 years later. Many actors, no matter how talented, fail to erase the memory of the original when a TV show jumps to film. Talented as they were, Jim Varney, Colin Farell and Tom Arnold could not replace the memories of Buddy Ebsen, Don Johnson and Ernest Borgnine. Wisely, Steve Carell has taken Adams’ blueprint and added his own comic skills to the role so that he not only appears comfortable on screen but the audience feels comfortable with him. As his new partner Agent 99, Hathaway channels the beauty of Barbara Feldon while giving the character a toughness and physical prowess that was never alluded to in the series. Here Agent 99 is much more than beauty and brains. She’s got her tough side and isn’t afraid to show it. The rest of the cast seems to have had as much fun making the film as I did watching it, with special attention due to Johnson, who should NEVER have to remind audiences he was once known as “the Rock” ever again, and Arkin, who is already comic royalty in Hollywood. Stamp shows a much meaner side to Siegfried then did original Bernie Koppel, which gives the plot a real menace with which to deal with. Koppel does make a cameo appearance in the film, and well-known characters like Larabie, Hymie and a mournful Bill Murray as Agent 13, who always has the unenviable mission of hiding inside the most unlikely of places. The film is dedicated to the memory of Adams and Edward Platt, the original Chief, and it’s a dedication I’d like to think they would both be proud of.

A comedy that’s true to its source and manufactures new laughs on its own, on a scale of zero to four stars I give “Get Smart”

This week's movie review of "Get Smart" is ©2008 by Michael A. Smith.  All graphics this page are creations of Nolan B. Canova, ©2008, all rights reserved. All contents of "Nolan's Pop Culture Review" are ©2008 by Nolan B. Canova.