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.
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.
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?
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.
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?
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.