Movie Review: Get Smart (2008)

Rated PG

Get Smart

Get Smart

Get Smart (2008)


Starring Steve Carell and Anne Hathaway

I wasn’t sure what to expect from this movie. The 60s TV show is an absolute classic. But that humour worked best in a contained, smaller budget TV show. The Get Smart reunion movie in the 80s had all the hallmarks of the original, but the bigger budget and the changes in the world since the original left it feeling a bit lacking. The other thing that had me concerned was that the plot was allegedly about Max Smart on his first mission when all the “real” agents were put out of action. Suddenly I was thinking Johnny English and that’s not a good thing. So how was it?

Steve Carell plays Max Smart, an analyst for secret organisation Control. Max is very, very good at his job. So much so, that although he dreams of being a field agent, he is knocked back because he is too good an analyst. And at this point, early on in the film, that my fears are subverted. Max is competent. He is really competent. He is not a bumbling moron. He is not someone who should be kept far away from the spy business. What I think this movie is going to be about has changed. The humour is not going to come from Max stumbling through the mission and coming up victorious despite his actions. I have no idea where the humour is going to come from, but this isn’t going to be an episode of Inspector Gadget.

After an attack from the terrorist organisation, Chaos, Control is compromised. Only two agents are able to get out into the field and save the world – Agent 99, a tough as nails female agent who has recently had reconstructive surgery, and Agent 86, the newly promoted Max Smart.

What follows are the adventures of an elite spy organisation. Lots of big action sequences and intrigue. And to my surprise, the humour comes from the relationships between the characters and the unexpected situations and events that happen to the characters. At times the movie makes fun of and derives humour from the basic tropes of the spy genre. But this is rarely at the expense of the characters. I was never left wondering why these characters were allowed anywhere near a spy organisation, let alone a gun.

The other thing that surprised me was that this movie didn’t really have a “message”. The movie wasn’t about “being true to yourself”. It wasn’t about “following your dreams, no matter what”. It was a movie about a spy organisation where funny things happen. Instead of being beaten over the head with a message that will leave you going “Awwwww” at the end of the movie and walk out of the cinema feeling warm and fuzzy, we have a movie that’s just to be enjoyed. Some may hate that. I find it refreshing.

The lack of a message makes it really hard for a Christian commentator like myself. How can I turn this movie into a sermon illustration? Well maybe the point is that we shouldn’t be trying to tie everything back to Jesus. Don’t get me wrong. I believe that Christ is the centre of everything. That without him, we are nothing. But any link I can think of between Get Smart and Jesus is tangental at best. If anyone can think of a decent link between this movie and Scripture, let me know in the comments. Let that be an opportunity to flex your minds!

I wasn’t sure what to expect when watching Get Smart. I walked out of the theatre not only having enjoyed the movie but also being pleasantly surprised by its plot and style. And any movie with a Patrick Warburton cameo is A-Ok with me.

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