Get Smart: A Social Commentary

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.

  1. The President says nucular and one of the CONTROL guys yells, “It’s ‘nuclear,’ can’t you say that?”  Funny.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

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4 thoughts on “Get Smart: A Social Commentary

  1. This is why I like you Joel. Someone else who likes to watch simple movies and think about the statements being made, often times over-thinking, but thinking none the less. I get yelled at sometimes for this (not by Ang). We saw Get Smart the other day, I too enjoyed it (much more then I thought I would). Lots of good stuff in it.

    Back to the blog though. You forgot love. People are motivated by love, at least I still believe they are, or at least they can be.

  2. So now I’m an over-thinker huh? 🙂

    “Love, love, love, this constant obsession with love!” You know the movie so I won’t ask.

    Good point. People should be motivated by love. But the love of what? Fame? Power? Money? Self? For the sake of discussion, I’m going to postulate that without the grace of Christ, one cannot be motivated to act out of love for somebody else. What do you think about that? Is it possible to love, to truly love whole-heartedly, sacrificially, and unconditionally without first receiving it? If so, how?

    (Thanks for thinking with me. It’s a hard way to live.)

  3. I don’t think I can truly answer that, but I do have some thoughts about it. While each persons intentions, and motives are different, I do think there are some overall thoughts that can contribut to the conversation.

    I suppose we both come from the view in which love comes from God (as well as everything else. Please don’t parse that statement) So I am directed to an idea that God acts out of love, the idea that his creation and the idea for creation comes from love. Disregarding the concern of being too “newage”, Is Gods love not in everything? In the trees, the rocks, oceans and land? Not to mention the animals and people which inhabit this earth.

    I guess I am of the belief that Gods love, this true love that we are talking about is surrounding us. Is it in scripture, yes. But I also believe that it is around us and in us.

    So I guess, from my position, we all have “experienced” Gods love in one way or another, and that it is a matter of understanding the source of that love.

    I will pose a question though. Do you think that the love of fame, power, money, and self are truly the real motive’s behind people’s actions? Or is there something greater still behind those motives?

    Thats all for now.

  4. Good question. My stance as of now (you know, things always seem to change as our faith matures) is that people are naturally (now, in the post-Adam world) motivated by sin. If we weren’t, what good would our salvation in Christ be?

    I’m not sure God’s love is truly in everything, and that may just be semantics because God can turn anything to His glory. I would say the character of God is found in nature–love is there, but also strength, wrath, power, and hugeness (real word…I made it up).

    But I’m not sold on regular joe-schmo being motivated by love, especially without receiving grace. I think the greater-behind-the-scene motivations are ultimately grace/righteousness or sin nature.

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