Day 352 - 12/18/09 - Movie #352
BEFORE: Unlike last night, this is a movie that I've been looking forward to - because I was a fan of the 1960's TV show (OK, the syndicated repeats...) and I think Steve Carell is usually pretty funny.
THE PLOT: Maxwell Smart, Agent 86 for CONTROL, battles the forces of KAOS with the more-competent Agent 99 at his side.
AFTER: Clever move, making Maxwell Smart an intelligence analyst who becomes a rookie agent - not only does it reboot the franchise and show us his origin, it strikes the right note between him being well-trained, and a total screw-up. We want him to succeed, but we also want him to be funny - too far in one direction, and you've got James Bond, and too far in the other direction, he's Frank Drebbin from "Naked Gun". So here he's got lots of intelligence (the spy kind) but no real experience out in the field.
He's teamed with Agent 99 (Anne Hathaway) and they flirt cute as they crash a Russian arms dealer's party. Adam Arkin plays his boss, "Chief", and he also strikes a good balance between supportive and stuffy. By contrast, Terence Stamp takes over the role of Siegfried from Bernie Kopell (who also has a cameo) but Stamp doesn't really bring much to the table - not as much as Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson does as Agent 23.
Another WWE wrestler, The Great Khali, plays a villain here - also cameos by Bill Murray, Kevin Nealon, Larry Miller, Masi Oka from "Heroes", David Koechner, James Caan and also Ken Davitian, that guy who played Borat's friend. Also Patrick Warburton appears at the end as Hymie the robot, which suggests that a sequel is in the works - right, Hollywood? RIGHT?
RATING: 7 out of 10 laser beams