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Did Peter Segal Get Smart?
Did Peter Segal Get Smart? border=
Saturday, June 21, 2008
I just got back from a Sunday matinee viewing of GET SMART with my teenage daughters. What's GET SMART got to do with Captain Marvel or the Marvel Family? Well, as you may already know, Peter Segal, the director, is also directing BILLY BATSON AND THE LEGEND OF SHAZAM!. And Dwayne Johnson, who has been rumored to play Black Adam, for just about forever, plays Agent 23. That meant that I could look at the film as a kind of precursor to BILLY BATSON. Normally, I don't like to editorialize on this site, but I've got to say that after seeing this film -- with those two on board, there are no worries for BILLY BATSON.

The movie started a little slow but it didn't take long before it found its sea-legs. What's really interesting is that it kept getting better as it progressed. Steve Carell is excellent as the titular character, Maxwell Smart. Carell plays him straighter than Don Adams ever did and it was a wise choice. Segal and writers Tom J. Astle and Matt Ember weren't slavish to the TV show yet at the same time honored the original characters and concepts.

Besides Max, many of the familiar GET SMART characters are there: Anne Hathaway plays a tough-as-nails Agent 99 whose icy surface believably melts during the course of the movie. And Alan Arkin plays the Chief as a crusty old leader who still has a lot of spunk. There's a nice original GET SMART cameo as well as appearances by familiar GET SMART props.

But down to brass tacks: If there were any worries about Dwayne Johnson playing Black Adam, there are no doubts now. He crushed the role of Agent 23. Director Peter Segal has taken a few lumps here and there due to his resume consisting mostly of comedies. After seeing this movie, there's no doubt that he can handle the kind of action/adventure film that I suspect BILLY BATSON will be, yet fill it in with a natural humor. The movie looks big and the action sequences are smashing. Compared to LIVE FREE AND DIE HARD, there's nothing in this film that stretches beyond the bounds of believability. Some have compared it to the Bourne series or a James Bond with comedy, I also saw some ALIAS in there as well. My only complaint was an unnecessary grossout gag.

A couple of after thoughts:
  • It would be interesting to see Terence Stamp play the wizard Shazam.
  • There's one neat scene near the end of the film that's a very, very oblique semi-Captain Marvel nod and it brought a smile.
  • Oh, and did I say that Dwayne Johnson will make a great Black Adam?

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