Get Smart – Slapstick too far

Get Smart – with Steve Carrell and Anne Hathaway – is good action and good comedy.  Oddly though,  it seems that both halves war a bit.

I’m a fan of the classic Get Smart,  so I was both excited and leery.  I’d read an interview which mentioned that Steve avoided the classic to avoid copying,  which is both honourable in terms of artistic integrity but disappointing in terms of reliving the “good old days”,  and hints a bit at laziness.  The movie can’t seem to make up its mind about Max Smart – he’s simultaneously brilliant yet incompetent.  The situations are funny, yet at the same time there’s almost no believability.  That’s not too bad,  since reality isn’t exactly a big point for the movie – it’s more about relaxed action and funny moments.

What’s most jarring however is the … experiment? … in a variation of slapstick comedy.  Whether intentionally or not,  there’s a lot of situations involving things that are so obviously painful that you can’t help but wince.  It’s like someone had the idea of slapstick but applied it somewhat incorrectly.  Slapstick,  when it’s people banging into things,  getting conked on the head,  works because the bumps and bruises can be laughed off.  Here, we’ve perhaps crossed the “uncanny valley” – the pain is too realistic,  too believable, that even though it’s obviously supposed to be funny,  your first reaction is to wince in sympathy.  That part definitely needs work.

The Agent 99 necessary romance was pretty rushed – it’s cute (or perhaps that’s just Anne Hathaway) but it feels more than a bit rushed.  Then again,  maybe I’m just getting old and jaded – true love in 48 hours seems a bit convenient 😉  And the weird love triangle that’s sprung later on?  Totally underdeveloped – almost tacked on really.

Definitely a good movie – just remember it’s a comedy and not to take any of it seriously,  and it’ll be a blast.

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