Out of the ideas Hollywood can't resist comes the urge to rehash old TV sitcoms.
With irritating regularity, they're turned into movies, and the results have more in common with TV dinners than filet mignon. Upgrading dated material is an art form the studios have yet to master.
Cloning the work of bona fide geniuses Mel Brooks and Buck Henry is an even trickier task. Together and separately they are responsible for some of the best comedy in history.
One of their most inspired creations was Get Smart. Motivated by the public's near insatiable appetite for James Bond, Brooks and Henry signed one of the best deadpan comics in the business and teamed him with a superb cast of character actors.
Packed with gadgets such as telephone shoes, phone booth elevators and witty dialogue, the spy spoof was an instant hit and for 138 episodes between 1965 and 1970, Don Adams and Barbara Feldon cracked us up.
I'm one of the many skeptics who thought it impossible to pull off a movie version of Get Smart.
I am wrong for three reasons.
Two of them are Steve Carell and Anne Hathaway (The Devil Wears Prada). His pitch-perfect timing and pokerfaced delivery is so much like the unflappable Adams that it's spooky. Hathaway matches the imperturbable Feldon cool for cool.
CONTROL and KAOS and the Cold War have moved underground. A terrorist has some nuclear bombs and Agents 86 and 99 have to stop him. They get help -- in physical and comic terms -- from Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and a couple of wonderful cameos.
No. 3: From the terrific word play to some excellent slapstick, Get Smart is flat out smart and you'll laugh until your sides hurt. Director Peter Segal (50 First Dates) has made a film that is a genuine tribute to the series while, at the same time, has its own identity.
Mr. Movie rating: 4 1/2 stars.
Rated PG-13 for mature themes. Opens today at the Columbia Mall 8 and at the Fairchild 12.
The Love Guru
Mike Myers is Pitka, a love guru hired to patch up the relationship of a star hockey player so his team can win the Stanley Cup.
The comedian and his first-time screen co-writer Graham Gordy and first-time director Marco Schnabel wrap dozens of sexual innuendos around a plot designed to show off Myers' dexterity with bathroom humor and word play.
What is it with Saturday Night Live alumni? Adam Sandler is preoccupied with flatulence and Myers is obsessed with genital jokes. Both men are over 40.
Myers hasn't done his own film since the last Austin Powers in 2002. Judging by The Love Guru, the reason is a lack of ideas as edgy, gut-busting and often brilliant as those found in the Austin Powers movies.
With the momentum and box office draw of Austin Powers now completely dried up, Myers should stick with voicing characters like Shrek. At least that humor is mature, and Shrek is a character that lets Myers finally act his age.
Mr. Movie rating: 0.5 stars.
Rated PG-13 for very mature themes, crude humor, sexual situations. Opens today at the Columbia Mall 8 and at Fairchild Cinemas.