s skippy the bush kangaroo: top 4 reasons we knew the "get smart" movie would be a dog

skippy the bush kangaroo

Friday, June 20, 2008

top 4 reasons we knew the "get smart" movie would be a dog

to be very honest, we admit that steve carrell does have the same idiot-who-thinks-he's-suave composure that don adams had in the original 60's show. and we are big fans of anne hathaway, and alan arkin (grumpy gramps in little miss sunshine) is always a delight to watch. plus, dwayne "the rock" johnson has proven himself to be quite game in comedic roles (he was the best thing in the chili palmer "get shorty" sequel be cool). so we were willing to give the get smart movie the benefit of the doubt. at first.

however, we came to realize weeks ago that the new version of would be terrible, and for 4 different reasons:

  1. to be fair, there were a couple of genuinely funny moments in the coming attractions, to wit: when smart tries to outmaneuver his adversary by throwing a phone receiver at him, only to have it spring back on the phone cord, and when smart tries to surreptitiously part the beaded curtain, making the beads all fall down off the strings, scattering all across the floor.

    these are actually quite good physical bits. but upon reflection, we remembered that these two bits of schtick were actually from the original tv show, first performed by don adams. and the rule of hollywood today is put all your best jokes in the coming attractions. ergo, if the best jokes in the movie are stolen from a 40 year old tv show, what does that tell you?

  2. the film purports to be an "origin" story, that is, the explanation of how the character came to be. in and of itself, this makes little sense to anybody who adored the tv show.

    there was no need to explain how max got to be the top agent in control. control was a mess. everyone was incompetent and loony (except perhaps the chief, as portrayed by the late great edward platt, whose character was obviously out of his league trying to keep on top of the goofiness). it only made sense that max smart was the best control had to offer.

    but the film apparently tells how desk-bound data analyst max smart gets kicked upstairs to head spy when all of control's real spies get killed.

    gee, that sounds promising, eh? like a little backstory explaining how a bumbler could get such a lofty position.

    it could have been. if rowan atkinson hadn't already used the exact same "every agent gets killed so goofy guy gets promoted" plot device for his own (terrible) spy spoof johnny english.

    a movie about a bumbling american spy that steals its premise from a really, really bad movie about a bumbling english spy? what does that tell you?

  3. from the beginning, the get smart film was hawked as an "action comedy." now, the thought mel brooks and buck henry (the originators of the tv show) brings many things to mind, but "action" is one not one of them.

    brooks and henry did not spoof action movies with their show. and believe us, there were plenty of action movies (specifically sean connery spy films) back then they could have spoofed. no, they were comedians rooted firmly in borscht belt vaudeville schtick, and that's what they gave us.

    the physical gags were done in a room, not off the wings of an airplane plummeting to earth. the cone of silence made things so quiet that the conversationalists couldn't actually hear the conversation. agent 13 was usually stuck in a trash can or bowling ball return for a disguise. action, schmaction, we got the jokes!

    jokes which were just as liable to be plays on words as plays on spy conventions. (one of our fav moments in the old series: spanish informant tamara dies in max's arms. 99 says "you mean -?" and max replies, deadpan, "yes, 99...there is no tamara." also, check out george c. scott's filmography to get the joke for the episode titled "the mess of adrian listenger.")

    our point? the tv show was a spoof, more along the lines of today's scary movie franchise (if the scary movie franchise was actually funny, that is)...simply an excuse to string goofy punchlines together. there was never a chance that max and 99 were in danger. you knew max would get out of the bog of synthetic sand ("how is that different than quick sand?" "it's quicker") without a scratch. who needs action sequences, when you've got barbara feldon to look at?

    there was no need for risk. that was a different genre. (and there was no need for brooks and henry to do an action spoof...james coburn had done two excellent bond parodies w/his derek flint series, and there's always the regrettable peter sellers failure, casino royale...all action-packed goofball spy spoofs.)

    so this, to us, represents the current filmmakers' inability to understand the actual oore of what made maxwell smart so appealing. we don't need no stinkin' action. not if we've got jokes.

  4. and this brings us to what looks to be a terribly miscast terence stamp as siegfried, max's nemisis from kaos.

    now, there is probably nobody working in movies today that can portray a cold-blooded psycho better than terence stamp. his steely eyes staring at you would stop your heart and put it down in your bowels.

    and that's the problem. siegfried, as played by bernie koppel (another borscht belt-rooted comic) was anything but petrifying. he was as goofy as max. again, this appears to be a terrible miscalculation on the part of the filmmakers as to what get smart is about.

    we don't want general zod as max's enemy! we want doc from love boat!

we haven't seen get smart the movie. we actually would prefer not to. so we might be 100% wrong in our trepidation.

but we don't think so.


posted by skippy at 6:37 PM |


Would you believe... General Zod's running for President: http://www.zod2008.com/
commented by Anonymous the talking dog, 10:27 AM PDT  
I've formed the same impression watching the coming attractions and reading the reviews as you (but with far less thought than you've put into it!).

This review echoes a lot of you say. Here's one point the reviewer makes which you didn't: "Part of the problem is that Carell's Max isn't stupid. He's supposed to be a brilliant analyst, after all, so the script's attempts to make him seem a doofus ring false."

I wonder, though, if only those of us who actually watched the original show will have this reaction.
This is the first time I've read a good movie review from someone who didn't actually see the movie being reviewed. Pretty slick...
commented by Blogger Jim Yeager, 2:10 PM PDT  
i was a huge get smart fan when i was a kid...in fact, i was a huge don adams fan even before get smart, when he was detective glick (the max smart prototype) on the bill dana (jose jimenez) show.

when i first saw the film preview, i thought there was a chance it might be good...carell could actually have been a worthy torch-bearer to adams...but upon reflection, i saw the big big holes in the thought processes of the film makers, which is almost sacrelige to me.
commented by Blogger skippy, 4:45 PM PDT  
Ah, yes, but admit it: You'd pay to watch Terence Stamp tie his shoes for two hours, wouldn't you. I know I would. For he is the hottest 69-year-old in the known universe.
commented by Blogger Jill, 7:28 AM PDT  
commented by Anonymous bokep mia khalifa, 1:08 AM PDT  

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