Virgin Movie Review – Get Smart

get smart movie
Less than smart.

Maybe I’ve been watching too many spy movies this month, but I was bored during this otherwise okay comedy spy film. We have a lot of US spy films, like the Mission Impossible series, RED 1 and 2, the Patriot Games trilogy, and Jason Bourne’s franchise. I recently reviewed a glut of British spy movies too, covering James Bond, The Kingsman, Johnny English and Austin Powers. I’m kind of spied out.  I know there’s more spy movies out there, but I have to ask myself WHY? Do we all secretly want to use cool gadgets and murder with government consent? Does this make us a little bit evil, somehow?

In any case, Get Smart is based on a TV franchise my mother watched back in the day, and something I sat through as a child, for lack of anything more charming onscreen. I recalled the Shoe Phone, the Cone of Silence, the Telephone Booth entrance (a gag reused recently in Harry Potter of all things), and how the Maxwell Smart character made endless silly mistakes, yet carried the day in spite of it all. Smart is booksmart, but not really skilled in the field. In the Get Smart movie, Steve Carell plays the smart/dumb role with aplomb. Kudos to him.

For the rest of the cast, it was kind of an excuse to show up as a “Hey, I know that guy” trope, thinking that was good enough. (Clue: It wasn’t.) Anne Hathaway was over-cast and made no sense being in a silly feature like this. Don’t get me started on the total waste of The Rock’s talents. Why they agreed to show up for Get Smart is something I can’t understand. There’s also a very strange cameo with a beloved actor, who has a tiny scene while hidden in a tree on the White House lawn. I have no idea what that was about, but I won’t spoil it for you here. Look for him, and tell me if you think the scene added anything to the plot.

The best role went to the amiable Alan Arkin as the head of Control. I love his voice, and how he can be an average sort of fellow who never-the-less has a commanding presence. That worked. Not brilliantly, but good enough.

I did enjoy the dance-off scene, and Maxwell’s adorable partner. When she flipped the bird to the pretty little mean girls, I gave a small cheer. Not to say that fat jokes are cool, but it was pleasing to see her cut a rug with Max on the dance floor. The scene where Agent 99 and Max gyrate around deadly laser beams was a cute take on the the old trope. And I liked the nod to the old Bond movies with the Jaws-type henchman character, who they call Easter Island Head — which I totally see. The skydiving segment uncannily pre-dates the recent HALO jump on Mission Impossible: Fallout, but not with the panache of Tom Cruise’s real-life stunt.

Basically, Get Smart is a non-offensive movie that thinks it’s funnier than it is..however,  my mother laughed a lot. Personally, if I’m going to watch a spy spoof, I’d prefer Austin Powers or The Kingsman. Still, Get Smart is better than Johnny English. Ah, the power of faint praise. 😉

Movie Grade: B

(A Virgin Movie Review is one where we haven’t seen the movie in question when it came out, and watched it with no particular expectations.)

Cruise’s HALO MI Dives: 106 jumps at 25,000 feet, w/broken ankle

Best Bond and Bond Parody Intro Songs

Fantastic Theme Music from the Entire Mission Impossible Franchise

 

Jill Florio

Co-Creator of RunPee, Chief of Operations, Content Director, and Managing Editor. RunPee Jilly likes galaxy-spanning sci fi, superhero sagas, fantasy films, YA dystopians, action thrillers, chick flicks, and zany comedies, in that order…and possesses an inspiringly small bladder. In fact, that little bladder sparked the creation of RunPee. (Good thing she’s learned to hold it.)

Movie Review – Skyscraper

Not even duct tape could hold together this mess of a movie.

I’m willing to overlook a lot of unrealistic stuff in order to enjoy a good Dwayne Johnson movie, but this one just doesn’t offer enough of a payoff to warrant the price of a movie ticket. Or even just two hours of your life.

What I do like: The Rock climbs out on a ledge in this movie as a man missing a leg. He’s still big and strong, but at a big disadvantage, yet he perseveres. But honestly, I feel like a movie that showcases the struggle of a handicapped character deserves a better story.

That’s it. There’s nothing else to like. Oh, except the duct tape jokes.

The story fails in so many ways. There was no chemistry between Dwayne Johnson and Neve Campbell. There were plenty of scenes where we’re supposed to get how much they love each other, but they fall flat. Watching these two together was the first thing that tore me out of the movie experience. Dwayne Johnson has a few nice acting scenes, but that was the extent of it. Not to dig on DJ, because he’s *The Rock* for a reason, but when his acting performance stands out as the best in any movie, you might have problems. He needs a decent cast to support him — just as every actor does — but he didn’t get it in this movie.

Beyond that the story creators made many questionable decisions, like: how did Will (Dwayne Johnson) get back across the harbor to the Pearl? We saw him go across the harbor to the control center, then he has to get back — we never see it. It’s a minor thing until you notice it. But once you notice it, the movie magic is gone. And that just kept happening.

And an unforgivable sin the creators made: so blatantly giving away the setting for the end of the movie. It’s great when a story is able to introduce something early as unimportant, that later becomes vital. The director might as well have painted “climax happens here” on the door to the sphere.

Okay, I have to stop. This movie really isn’t even worth my time to nit-pick. I’ll leave it at that. Dwayne Johnson stars in a new featured movie about every other month. They can’t all be great.

Grade: C-

About the Peetimes:
All three Peetimes are pretty good and evenly spaced out through the movie. Use whichever works best for your bladder.

Creator of RunPee. Aspiring author.

Movie Review – Jumanji 2: Welcome to the Jungle

This “sequel” version of Jumanji is adorable and funny. Predictable, yes, but the story is based on a video game plot, so it’s kind of a baked-in thing.

It’s also bit too pat in how each teenage character gets the perfect game avatar to grow as a person, but this is yet another thing that can be explained away in-universe: it’s a magic game, and that’s what it does. So I guess we can make allowances for this too. It’s all in good fun to service the adventure story.

This movie is very like a fantasy-version of The Breakfast Club, updated for the cell-phone/video game era. It’s got detention, stereotypical teens from different cliques, and the theme is an exploration of how their characters learn to work together. They become close through their experiences. So, yeah, the same concept.

The plot is paper-thin, which is, again, part of the conceit. What the film really sells are the sweet character interactions, tons of gorgeous visuals, lots of humor, and the swashbuckling tone. I’ll say it: this could become a lightweight adventure/humor classic. We’ll see, over time. The audience enjoyed it — they were laughing and clapping throughout. There’s also a good message for young people about tolerance and acceptance. Nothing world-changing, but I’m glad I got to see this.

Everyone in the film was just great — the actors seemed like they had a blast. Jack Black was fantastic, and I normally don’t enjoy his brand of broad humor. He had the obviously funny part, but didn’t oversell it, even when teaching “Martha” how to flirt. Dwayne Johnson was super playful, and pulled off a believably bashful teen. Kevin Hart was a crack-up as the “backpack guy.” Karen Gillan has nice comedic timing, and it was good to see her actual face without the blue makeup of Nebula from Guardians of the Galaxy. At some points she still channeled Nebula, but her physicality as a warrior served her well in both roles. Everyone played off each other very well. The ensemble was just too damn cute, and they knew it.

Do you need to see the original Jumanji to follow along? In a word, no. Somehow the old one never pinged on my radar. I think I should catch it now; Jumanji 2 was that much fun. I laughed almost the whole time, and enjoyed these veteran actors doing their campy best of reviving the old “body swap” tale. It made me forget about life for a few hours, and that’s what a movie can do at its best.

Movie Grade: A-

Jill Florio

Co-Creator of RunPee, Chief of Operations, Content Director, and Managing Editor. RunPee Jilly likes galaxy-spanning sci fi, superhero sagas, fantasy films, YA dystopians, action thrillers, chick flicks, and zany comedies, in that order…and possesses an inspiringly small bladder. In fact, that little bladder sparked the creation of RunPee. (Good thing she’s learned to hold it.)