Get Smart (2008) It’s time to reiterate my rule for reviewing comedy movies: I don’t recommend, I merely report whether or not I laughed, and if I laughed, was it a titter, a guffaw, a whoop, or some other quantity of mirth. Everybody laughs at different things, and if you recommend a comedy to someone, even someone you know well, there’s a good chance he or she will have a long, sour face the next time you see them. “How could you have liked that unfunny piece of shit?” Well, I don’t know. All I know is that I laughed.
I laughed at this one, somewhat to my surprise. (It helps if you go into a comedy with low expectations.) Stretching a well-remembered half-hour sitcom of the past to feature length is fraught with trouble. In something like “Get Smart,” where the characters were thin but the jokes were fast and furious, you have the problem of not wanting to be around these people for two hours. You have to create some sympathy, maybe a love story, and a semi-reasonable plot to hang all the pratfalls on. This movie did a fair job of that. Here Maxwell Smart is not so much the clueless blowhard he was on TV, but a doofus who was trying to advance in CONTROL. The visual jokes are mostly funny. My favorite scene was with a very fat lady that Max picks as a dance partner out of a crowd of gorgeous women. Oh, shit, I thought, here come the fat lady jokes. She’ll be on her keister with Max underneath her in about 30 seconds. But no! They dance fabulously, completely showing up the handsome couple of Anne Hathaway and some pretty dude. Nice one!
I have to say a word about Anne Hathaway. (And isn’t it funny how it sometimes happens, without you planning it, that you see a couple films with the same star pretty much back to back? We just saw her in Passengers. And last week we saw Patrick Wilson in Lakeview Terrace and Passengers.) I haven’t seen The Princess Diaries, but I understand she has tried not to be typecast as a G-rated princess, taking roles in things like Brokeback Mountain. I think her problem will be that she’s so dadgum pretty, in a Playboy girl-next-door way. Can’t you just see her in a centerfold? Those eyes, that complexion, that smile … But she’s a serious actress and, I just learned, a trained soprano. I wish her well. How odd that she has the same name as Shakespeare’s wife.