What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that kids are more likely to want to see this broad spy comedy because of stars Steve Carell, Anne Hathaway, and Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson than because it's based on the classic TV show (though that might be a draw for some parents). The movie version is a bit edgier than the series -- it's got some swearing (including "bitch" and a couple of "s--t"s) and a good bit of action -- but it's by no means for adults only. The physical humor will definitely appeal to kids, though because of the frequent use of guns and other weapons by both the good and bad guys -- sometimes with relish -- the movie is most appropriate for older tweens and up. Expect a few cheap-shot jokes made at the expense of the overweight and some political barbs, though the latter will likely go over the head of younger viewers.
What's the story?
Forget the underlying plot in GET SMART, the modern-day cinematic adaptation of the classic TV series. What passes for one -- something about evil organization KAOS' attempts to bomb Los Angeles, with a preamble about weapons theft in Russia -- is rudimentary at best and confounding at worst. The movie is really the triumph-of-the-underdog story of Maxwell Smart (Steve Carell), a brilliant-but-nerdy analyst at secret government agency CONTROL who finally gets his wish to become a field agent when headquarters is attacked and the identity of all of CONTROL's operatives -- except for Agent 99 (Anne Hathaway) -- is compromised. It's up to Max and 99 to stop the bad guys and save the day ... provided they can learn to work together.
Is it any good?
You could quibble about the movie's uneven plot, but why let that get in the way of a good time? Carrell doesn't so much slip into original Get Smart star Don Adams' shoes (which do make a satisfying appearance) as put a cerebral sheen on them, playing Max (aka Agent 86) as delightfully eager to please and not entirely inept. Not really inept at all, in fact.
The rest of the cast also attacks the admittedly lightweight material with zest. Hathaway gives 99 a little sex appeal -- but she has the brawn to match, too -- and as superstar Agent 23, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson clearly has muscle power, but he's also surprisingly subtle and effective. But it's Alan Arkin, as the chief of CONTROL, who makes a particularly delicious impression, making what's essentially a one-dimensional character into a complicated curmudgeon who still proves he has the goods when the time comes. (Also keep your eyes peeled for plenty of inspired cameos.) With teamwork and some truly impressive gadgetry -- which really is half the point in a movie like this -- the cast manages to elevate the material. In the end, it feels like Get Smart only missed greatness by "this much."
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about why so many TV shows get made into movies. What do you think the appeal is for filmmakers? For studios? Does nostalgia translate into big audiences (and big profits)? Why do some succeed and others fail?
What shows would you like to see turned into movies? Why?
Why does Max want to be an agent so badly? What motivates him? What about his idea that our enemies are real people, too? Can you think of any other movie spies who have that perspective?