Get Smart’s Bruce and Lloyd Out of Control

I really enjoyed the new Get Smart movie, so I decided to buy into their new gimmick of releasing a spin-off DVD during the theatrical run. There are some theories about why they did it, like “they had too much footage of Bruce and Lloyd and decided to make a movie out of it!” which I wish were true. Sadly, the cumbersome-titled Get Smart’s Bruce and Lloyd Out of Control is helmed by a different director, lacks even a cameo or archive footage of the biggest stars, and feels like one of those American Pie direct-to-DVD sequels.

Tell my agent to get me the hell out of this movie!

I imagine it will get plenty of traffic from hungry-hungry “Heroes” fans wanting to see more Masi Oka, who plays Hiro on that show. He’s Bruce. Or wait a minute- is he Lloyd? That’s one of the running “gags,” that people mix up their names. Nate Torrence plays Lloyd, the fat one. The actors are actually pretty funny on their own, when the script lets them ramble and be the nerds their characters are. Unfortunately it only gives them a few chances to do this, and expends a lot of time on badly-timed slapstick that showcases the director’s mediocrity.

Say “frying man!” again, fatboy. I dare you.

Gil Junger, who directed the surprisingly good 10 Things I Hate About You, seems to have gone downhill ever since. The scriptwriters are the same from the Get Smart movie, but they seem to have written this overnight for a contractual obligation. The energy of the two leads saves this movie from the trash can, and in the words of The Mouth from the South, it’s “watchable.” He also thought 10,000 B.C. was “watchable,” which reminds me of when survivalists say you can survive by drinking your own urine. Sure, you could, but wouldn’t you rather have a Fresca?

Scenery’s got a lot of protein. That’s why I chew it.

The plot begins with a strongman in Maraguay (get it? it’s not Paraguay or Uruguay!) who captures a scientist to make him build weapons. Then we get to see Terry Crews appear in his one scene on the paintball course, in a decently funny bit. He’s demonstrating one of Bruce & Lloyd’s gadgets, an invisibility cloak, called the O-C-T. Of course it malfunctions, then he grabs his paycheck and runs like hell, leaving our two geeks to scratch their chins and consider how to improve it. The movie really goes astray when it tries to shoehorn this story in the background to the A-list movie, to explain why Max and the Chief are nowhere to be found. In reality, Carell, Arkin and The Rock probably gave the producers the finger when they were asked to star in a direct-to-DVD movie; Anne Hathaway agreed for some reason, and we see her on the phone with Lloyd at one point, for no good reason.

I can believe an invisibility cloak, but not these guys with these gals.

Instead of the Chief, we get the Underchief, played by Larry Miller- a once funny guy reduced to being the hamster’s bitch in movies like Nutty Professor 2: The Klumps. He’s the go-to guy in Hollywood when you need a slimy asshole character on a budget, and that’s his job here. He wants the OCT ready ASAP, and of course their rivals at the CIA take it on the QT, and that’s not A-OK. Will our nerds be able to get it back? Will they ever get a date? Will Patrick Warburton ever be appreciated?

Some of the best bits are over the credits or on special features.

The movie isn’t bad, but it’s probably best viewed long after you’ve seen it’s daddy in theaters, because it feels very lacking in comparison. For a direct DVD release it’s better than most, and certainly has its funny moments. It feels overlong at 71 minutes, but there are some cute features that are actually funnier than most of the movie. I think the movie was overburdened with plot, and would have worked best like an Office Space type movie with the gadget nerds as their everyday selves, pranking back and forth with the CIA, trying to overcome the forensic hottie’s stinky aroma, and trying to get Hymie the Robot (the as-usual criminally underutilized Patrick Warburton) to work properly. Hopefully Hymie will appear more often in the inevitable sequel.

It’s not a bad way to kill an hour and change if you’re stuck inside escaping the heat or the rain on July 4th, or if you just can’t get enough of Masi Oka. If you’re expecting more madcap laughs like the Carell movie had, you’ll be sorely disappointed.

Would You Believe Get Smart is Pretty Damn Funny?

TV series movie reboots have a bad track record, but I’m afraid we’re going to see a lot more of them. Get Smart with Steve Carell in Don Adams’s shoe-phones is a solid success, and I imagine the sequel is already being planned by a bevy of producers with cigarette holders and monocles a-twitch at the box office receipts. It’s not perfect, but it’s very funny, gives a few nods to the old show without wallowing in fan service like the new Hulk movie, and there’s great chemistry between the cast.

The movie begins in familiar Carell territory- he’s an analyst at Control, a shadowy government organization in rivalry with the C.I.A. He wants to leave the desk and hit the field with agents like the legendary Agent 23, played with great humor by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. But he’s indispensable at his job of decoding chatter, and has to sit back at HQ with gadget geeks like Bruce (“Heroes” Hiro, Masi Oka) and Lloyd. (Nate Torrene). The Chief who’s holding him back is Alan Arkin, who plays the role with relish, slipping into his familiar manic mannerisms- it made me wonder if he joined Peter Falk after The In-Laws, another fine spy spoof with a very similar tone.

After Control is hit by KAOS, he meets Agent 99 (Anne Hathaway). She’s sharp, smart and sexy, the paragon of female super-spy, and they have good chemistry together. They’re off to Russia to track down KAOS’s leader Siegfried, played Terence Stamp. He has a little less fun here than he did with General Zod, but it’s good to see him as a villain again. His henchmen include Borat’s pal Ken Davitian, and The Great Khali from the WWF, “with a face like an Easter Island statue.”

The movie has more action sequences than any of the TV show episodes ever did, and even The Nude Bomb tried for. Sometimes they overwhelm the gags, but most of the time it stays rooted in comedy territory and made me laugh. The dialogue is snappy and makes use of Carell’s deadpan brilliance. Terry Crews and David Koechner play a pair of agents who serve as the Seniors vs. the freshman spies, and their comeuppances are always entertaining.

The gadgets are updated from the show, but usually don’t work or make sense, like the classic shoe phone. We get some throwbacks to the series like the cone of silence, and new stuff like a Swiss Army knife with a harpoon crossbow that is as useful as you could imagine, and Max’s attempts to use it get progressively funnier.

The third act runs to the predictable and has more action than laughs, as the gags run out of steam. It still works, but everyone including the enemy is much more competent than they ever were on the show. The movie does take a few pokes at the inability of our intelligence agencies to communicate with each other, and even takes a few jabs at the President, amusingly played by James Caan. But the payoff is one of an action movie, not a comedy.

I liked the few nods they made to the original series- There’s a Control Museum in the lobby, and the Sunbeam Tiger from the show’s opening, along with a suit that is apparently supposed to be the old Max’s. It’s never said, but Carell gives it a respectful nod that makes you wonder if they were going to mention that his uncle Max the legend got him the job. There are a few cute cameos, especially Agent 13 the master of disguise, but no Barbara Feldon. Too bad, she was the original 99 and even a background appearance would have been nice.

The classics

Originally there was fan outrage when Mel Brooks and Buck Henry, the show creators, were left out of working on the movie. They’re listed as consultants here, and who knows what (if any) input they had. The movie does fine with or without them, though it may not have their original flair. The laughs hit more than they miss to great degree, and there’s an infectious energy with the cast that makes the movie very enjoyable. All the characters hit the right note, and you’ll be able to see a straight to DVD movie with Bruce and Lloyd on July first. I give this one 3 Cones of Silence out of 4. It’s got a lot of laughs and has a cast of characters I’d like to see more of.

80’s Trash of the Week: The Return of Maxwell Smart (The Nude Bomb)

Would You Believe?

I watched this movie a lot on cable when I was a kid because 1) I liked “Get Smart” and 2) it was on HBO and had “nude” right in the title. It didn’t have the bare boobies I craved- just a few scenes of hairy man-ass and a wet t-shirt. I learned later that boobie movies have sneaky titles like The Postman Always Rings Twice, where Jack Nicholson grabs Jessica Lange’s cooch. Now that the remake starring Steve Carell is set to open this weekend, and Cinemax was showing it, I decided to revisit this movie from my childhood and see if it still stood up.

Shark successfully jumped

It’s a serviceably goofy spy movie, but it lacks two integral parts of what made the show a success– Edward Platt as Chief, and sexy Barbara Feldon as Agent 99. Instead we get Dana Elcar from “MacGyver” as Chief, and a few cuties as Agents 35 and 22; 22 is Andrea Howard, who thankfully gave up acting in 1987. She’s that bad.

No 99, new Chief = no chemistry

Don Adams is pitch perfect, Bill Dana and Joey Forman have funny and memorable roles, the villain is lovingly played by Italian actor Vittorio Gassman, the gadgets are suitably amusing, and the writing manages to eke out a laugh or two. That salvages an otherwise obvious cash-in that didn’t have the common decency to even ask Barbara Feldon to come back as Agent 99. Edward Platt sadly committed suicide in 1974, so could not return as Chief. George Kennedy might have been a better replacement.

The villainous thimble-fingered Sauvage

The plot is simple; KAOS, now run by a stocking-masked villain named Sauvage, has a bomb that renders everyone in the vicinity nude, and is blackmailing the United Nations after dropping it on the Kremlin, Buckingham Palace, and the Super Bowl. The wily agents track him down from the fashionista fabric he’s wearing, and hijinks ensue. The producers wanted to make it more of a James Bond spoof, so we get a lot of cuties, action and foreign locations.

Pay the ransom! I don’t need to see this.

Nino, Sauvage’s henchman (also played by Vittorio Gassman, sans mask) has a mechanical arm like the villain from Live and Let Die and looks sort of like Richard Kiel (Jaws) but he makes the character his own. They have a fight through a studio backlot which gives some amusing gunplay through a cheapo science fiction set, a Wild West show, and a Jaws ride.

Why does his mecha hand have a flamethrower but no built-in gun?

Bill Dana doesn’t play Jose Jiminez, but a Jewish designer who gets whacked by the villains, and his short scene in the hospital is one of the better ones. Nowadays the jokes elicit more grins than belly laughs, but it’s relatively clever at times. Some jokes fall flat, like a superstrong skiing gal. The show’s catchphrases don’t get too overused, but most of the comedy comes from Don Adams’ mastery of comic timing. They also update some of the gadgets- now his other shoe is an answering machine, for example.

Sir you were weaving words and left a dangling participle.

My favorite is the Deskmobile, because the best gadget jokes from the show were completely stupid and useless like that. Carruthers, the Q of the movie, tells him that it runs on ink. “A special ink only made in Saudi Arabia.” The Cone of Silence gets some use, but luckily they don’t drag it out too much. Instead, Agent 13, played by Joey Forman, gets to show off his super-sneak and disguise skills, by showing up everywhere he’s needed, like in an airplane toilet.

I’m feeling a little flushed.

There’s a mole, and a final battle at the villain’s underground lair, which has a zipper entrance. We get a funnily choreographed fight between a few dozen Maxes and Sauvages, thanks to his Clone Machine. The similarities to Austin Powers don’t end there, there’s even a mini-Max when the machine malfunctions. Once again the laughs usually fall in Don Adams’ lap, such as when he has to carry Agent 22 to safety from the self-destructing lair, and he can’t carry her. He manages to drag that out for minutes, and it keeps getting funnier.

Don’t look, who knows what might come out of there.

The movie does look like a TV show, except for the well-done action scenes, and Agent 99 and the real Chief are both very sorely missed. The snappy dialogue that made the show great is mostly missing except here and there, but I wasn’t a hardcore fan of the show, so I didn’t think it was an abomination. It seems like the new movie also snubs Agent 99, not even giving her a cameo. Here’s an interview with Barbara Feldon that explains some of why she wasn’t there, and gives some insight into Don Adams, who would you believe, was a hero in World War 2?

If you really want to, you can see Don Adams’ ass if you watch this movie.

Beers Required to Enjoy: 1
Could it be remade today? Check showtimes
Quotability Rating: Low
Cheese Factor: High
High Point: Don Adams
Low Point: Don Adams’s ass
Gratuitous Boobies: Through a wet shirt, but quite nice and obvious.