I’m on vacation, and there’s no better time to watch movies than summer vacation. Last night Sarah and I went to see Get Smart, a spy spoof starring Steve Carell and Anne Hathaway (and Dwayne Johnson, ie The Rock). I was expecting a silly movie about a moron who somehow becomes a spy.
I was wrong. It is indeed a silly movie, but Carell’s character, Max, is a linguistic genius who has taken the aptitude test for 8 years running. He finally passes it. In the field, he is truly a disaster that Hathaway has to cover for again and again. In terms of comedy, this is a great movie with minimal sexual crudeness (one or two scenes of suggestive things, but no nudity), mild language, and cutting social commentary.
It’s no wonder that Mel Brooks was an advisor for this movie. Above the comedy and spoofy nature of the film, the writers make some very pointed remarks regaurding American culture.
- The President says nucular and one of the CONTROL guys yells, “It’s ‘nuclear,’ can’t you say that?” Funny.
- The terrorist, or leader of the group KAOS, is planning on blowing up Los Angeles. The apparently not so bright but hearty goon asks why anyone would want to do that, and what they would do without Hollywood and all of the celebrities. The leader retorts with a sarcastic, “What would we do without their pointed policial views?” (Not the exact quote. I can’t remember what word he used to describe the politics. I was trying too hard…) Hollywood is like high school–sex, drugs, popularity contests, cliques, eating disorders, prom-like marriages, copying old movies due to a lack of imagination, accusing others of stealing their own ideas, thinking they have all the answers, etc.
- Max holds the belief that everybody needs to be seen as a human–not to pity the enemy but to understand what motivates him because he is a person. This comes into play later in the film, but I won’t ruin it for you. This can be seen as a pacifist answer to war, or it can be seen as one of those necessary elements of conflict. Terrorists, hippies, spies, farmers, kids, teachers, politicians (I can’t believe I’m saying this) are people. People are motivated by money, power, sex, greed, religion, fame, etc. This is an important lesson for Americans to learn. We too often see African children being stolen and brainwashed into soldiers as news items, not people ruining people. Thomas Jefferson owned a copy of the Quran to better understand Islam and the Arab culture. Why? Because they are people. Many conflicts are resolved or minimized when we treat each other as valued people. Is this enacting tolerance?
Get Smart is a great movie. It is funny in a way only Steve Carell is funny. But like all Mel Brooks movies, there is something chunkier to chew on. The writers of Napolean Dynamite should take notes.