Get Smart (2008)

Rated: PG-13 for some rude humor, action violence and language.
Length: 110 minutes
Grade: BCCC=B
Budget: $80 million
Box Office: $230 million (130 U.S., 100 Intl., DVD)

Written by: Tom J. Astle and Matt Ember, who worked together on Failure to Launch and some television episodes of Coach, Tracy Morgan Show, and the new Outer Limits. Matt Ember was a consulting producer for the TV show Titus.
Directed by: Peter Segal, who made The Longest Yard, 50 First Dates, Anger Management, My Fellow Americans, Nutty Professor 2, Naked Gun 33 1/3, and Tommy Boy.
Starring: Steve Carell, Anne Hathaway, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Alan Arkin, Terence Stamp, with appearances by David Koechner, James Caan, Bill Murray, Patrick Warburton, and Masi Oka.

After a devastating attack on the headquarters of the super-secret spy agency Control, Maxwell Smart and Agent 99 head off to find the culprits at KAOS and prevent them from launching a major nuclear attack against the United States. At least I think that was the premise. I didn’t really notice so much. It’s not exactly a plot-driven concept.

Entertainment Value: B
I grew up watching Get Smart and loving it, and so this worried me, the way a live action remake of Underdog worried me. But I was pretty pleased with the overall effort here. It’s certainly quite funny. Carell is a comic genius. They did plenty of homage to the old show’s peculiar quirks and redundancies while also changing Max’s character significantly. I liked the way they embedded their own running jokes (such as about who got which spy gadget). It’s fun and very entertaining, which cannot be said about the ridiculously unentertaining Bruce and Lloyd spinoff.

Superficial Content: C
Drugs/Alcohol B, Sex/Nudity C, Violence C, Language C, Illegal Activity C
Some alcohol consumption and smoking. There is fairly constant PG+ language (including some F-imitations), and there are more than enough sexual references to make this PG10+ at least. The violence probably justifies the PG-13, with explosions and fights and people being killed. There are also some very hilarious slapstick violence episodes, especially on involving a miniature crossbow.

Significant Content: C
Even villains are real people, too, usually. And if you can find a way to break through to that part of them, you might turn them to your side eventually. Be careful whom you trust. The guy who seems too good to be true might be. Good is good, and evil is evil. Honor, loyalty, and strength are all valued.

Artistic/Thought Value: C
This isn’t a movie about thought value. Ironic, right?

Discussion Questions:
~What do you think about Max’s idea that people who do evil aren’t necessarily evil in their core. They may be ordinary, decent people who just work for the wrong side? How does this perspective affect how you see your opponents in war? Why do we prefer to view our enemies as evil? How does this make things easier for us? Is Max’s perspective a Christian one?
~Why are we so protective of things we have cherished in the past that get remade later?
~Many of the classic beloved television shows were campy and lovable for that fact. Why aren’t campy shows made like this today? Or are they? Are we too cynical and sophisticated to enjoy silly stuff?

Overall Grade: B
Fun, funny, and a faithful update to the classic TV show. And, no, the guy who plays Dalip is not the guy who played Jaws in Moonraker, but, yes, Ken Davitian was Borat’s sidekick, just in case you were wondering.

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