I have not laughed so much during a movie for YEARS.
First off, the setup. Steve Carrell is Max Smart, who has been flying a desk for the past 8 years as an analyst for Control (the super-secret spy agency).
Smart wants to be an agent so badly that he has become Controlâ€™s top analyst. All he does all day long is listen to Russian chatter and translate it--real-time. He writes 500-page reports that no one reads, and gives hours-long meetings during which his agents fall asleep at the table. Smart is so motivated to be an agent that he has lost 150 pounds.
The first half-hour of the movie will resonate with anyone who works in the corporate or government sectorsâ€”hereâ €™s the hardest working guy in your office, the guy who never stops working, even when heâ€™s brushing his teeth or eating dinner, the guy who knows more than the people who keep getting promoted past him. And there are also the office bullies and the office dweebs.
The great thing about the first half-hour is that although it does its job of setting up the day-to-day routine of Maxwell Smart, it isnâ€™t just a setup. It is engaging, funny, and true to life. It also makes you relate to Smart--and Carrell is the perfect guy for this part--heâ€™s doing that sweet, slightly dorky, very human and really likable guy that he does so well.
Then we meet Anne Hathaway. I am more familiar with her as the Princess Diaries star, and I was so pleased to see how she has matured in this film. Hathaway is the insanely beautiful Agent 99. I have to admit, I have the slightest girl-crush on 99. At first she just seems like an emotionally closed-off agent with a pretty face, but as we get to know her, 99 reveals so much more of her personal history and vulnerability. She is so much more than the typical spy-movie hot chick.
Aside from the two main stars, this movie is a parade of familiar faces with tons of surprise cameos including Bill Murray, George Bush, and others. It could almost be a game of I-spy.
The second segment of the movie takes us inside rural Russia, with a few breathtakingly beautiful scenes, lots of action and a HILARIOUS dance scene.
I donâ€™t want to spoil the end, so Iâ€™ll just say that after the first half-hour (which is slower-paced than the rest of the movie, but itâ€™s not boring--it is funny and smartly-written ) after the first half-hour, the film moves from action scene to action scene with bits of humor and excellent character development in between. What I find most amazing about this movie is how well writers Tom J. Astle and Matt Ember managed to keep up the dialogue, situational humor, and action throughout. There are so many scenes where you (as the veteran action-movie watcher) are just so sure the film is headed in one direction, and then the writers turn it around and do something you never saw coming.
The ending has itâ€™s over-the-top moments, and if you know anything about the way national security agencies operate, there will be times a critical voice inside you would be tempted to say, â€œno way in **** that would ever happen,â€ but itâ€™s just so much fun that you end up telling that voice to just shut up and watch the movie.
I would definitely see this movie again. I did not take my kids to see it this time, but I will probably take them next week. I think anyone over the age of 5 would enjoy it. Itâ€™s not scary at all. There is some stage violence, but itâ€™s no worse than average and no gore. There is some situational humor that would go right over the kids' heads. Thereâ€™s one really nauseating scene toward the end, and also some languageâ€”but nothing that an adept parent couldnâ€™t turn into a teaching moment after the movie, as in, that expression was totally appropriate in that situation, but would be guaranteed to get someone in trouble at school or at the dinner table.
What else can I say? Go see it, take your friends, take people who like to laugh, or take people who never laugh and see if this works on them!