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steve carell

Every person that reviewed this movie poorly is clinically retarded. Would you believe severely traumatized?

All of you who loved the television series Get Smart should LOVE this movie. It may have quelled some fears if the tag “consultants: Mel Brooks and Buck Henry” came at the beginning of the movie, since these original series co-creators can hardly touch anything without it being comedic genius (I say anything because, I’m sorry, Dracula: Dead and Loving It should have been aborted like a…well put in your own analogy, I don’t want to sound uncaring.)

The movie follows Maxwell Smart (portrayed flawlessly by Steve Carell), a formerly portly analyst for C.O.N.T.R.O.L that has dreams of making it big like his hero, Agent 23 (played by Dwayne Johnson). When K.A.O.S. agents infiltrate the C.O.N.T.R.O.L. HQ and compromise the names of all their agents, it’s up to Max and Agent 99 (sensuously played by Anne Hathaway) to save the President and the city of Los Angeles from destruction.

First off, the casting was spot on. Steve Carell was able to keep the Don Adams sly confidence and dry wit without losing too much of the lovable ineptitude. Anne Hathaway plays 99 deliciously, with a mix of deadly sexuality and bite. The supporting cast does just as well, with notable performances by the ever fantastic Alan Arkin as the Chief, and Terrance Stamp as Siegfried of K.A.O.S. Even at the end we get Hymie, the lovable robot agent played by none other than the hilarious Patrick Warburton.

Now I must say it isn’t EXACTLY like the series. People need to realize that the type of humor Mel Brooks went for in the 60’s is not the type of humor he goes for today (if you’ve seen Robin Hood: Men in Tights, you know what I mean). While there was a lot of over the top humor back in the day, it wasn’t all sight gags, and they weren’t always so banal; it was somewhat more highbrow compared to the over the top sight gags of today. Obviously we have to very quickly get these characters up to speed, as they don’t have a gajillion episodes to flesh out and solidify characters, so we do miss stronger character arcs.

My two main disappointments were the direction they took agent 23’s character at the end (spoiler alert, he’s the bad guy too), and PART of the 86 character. For the Rock’s part, he played the character of suave, cool 23 very well. I just felt that making him a bad guy was a little forced; it didn’t quite feel right at the end of the movie. As for Max, Carell again does a great job getting the audience to like him as he tries to act courageous and knowledgeable, and is of course really just a complete fish out of water. There were parts though where he was actually TOO competent. The Max of the television series would NEVER have been able to actually hit something he aimed at with a gun, let alone several times. There also, and this is funny to gripe about, were not enough accidents.

A lot of the situations that Max got into, or got out of, were completely accidental. Anyone who watched cartoons from the 60’s and 70’s knows Hong Kong Phooey, who would act like he was the shit, but it was really his trusty cat Spot that would get him out of messes. In Get Smart, 86 would find his way into a situation and would either stumble out, or stumble around while Barbara Feldon got him out. That was part of Max’s appeal, that cocky self assuredness that never rubbed you the wrong way because you knew he meant well, and he acted that way because he was making up for the fact that half the time he was just faking it and was hoping to get credit for style points.

All in all it was an incredibly funny movie that paid a great deal of respect to the original series, and while a couple elements did fall under what would be seen as spot on, the overall picture was a joy to watch. I hope that they take note of the couple kinks in the characters and build on that for next time.

The 40-Year Old Virgin is just one of those movies that comes around once a year that really makes you laugh and enjoy yourself. As cliché as is sounds, the film has enough life and personality to save the rest of the generic box office fare for the rest of the year, and still have an enjoyment factor equal, or better than, any other film we’ll see. There’s so much to like about Virgin that we’ll start with the obvious, Steve Carell.

Simply put, Carell makes The 40-Year Old Virgin into what it is with a great performance topping that of the over-confident, somewhat dim-witted Michael Scott on the US version of The Office. Carell, who also co-wrote the movie with first time feature film director Judd Apatow, invokes the sympathies of the audience as he missteps his way around women with the ultimate goal of losing his virginity. Falling to the peer pressure of his friends (Paul Rudd, Seth Rogen, and Romany Malco), Carell’s Andy bar-hops, experiences a visit from a transvestite, and prepares for pornography by lighting candles in one of the longest preparations to pleasure one’s self ever.

While the focus of the film is on Andy, his three friends played by Rudd, Rogen, and Malco cash in for a majority of the laughs. David (Rudd) is infatuated with a former girlfriend as he sinks into depression after meeting up with her one more time. Cal (Rogen) is a ladies man with a crude outlook on life which provides amazing comedic value especially in one of the movie’s latter scenes. Jay (Malco) is the tied down player who has a girlfriend but also manages to score with every other women in the city.

Surprisingly the film is full of depth despite being based on a seemingly shallow premise. At its core it’s a story about a man losing his virginity, but deep down it’s a showcase of just how pathetic and weird we are as a social culture. Something as simple as a thong can provide endless hours of jokes and banter amongst friends and Carell and Apatow’s script showcases this without bounds.

Like Wedding Crashers before it, The 40-Year Old Virgin provides tons and tons of laughs, both scripted and improvised as the actors were allowed to go crazy with certain scenes, such as the oft-mentioned waxing scene. More surprising, most of the funny moments don’t come in any of the scenes we’ve witnessed in trailers and other promotional material. The film earns its R-rating with more than enough nudity, gross-out humor, and bodily fluids to make American Pie and Porky’s jealous.

The film does begin to drag towards the end, much like the aforementioned Crashers, as the story is about 25 minutes longer than it needs to be, but those who can put up with a slightly less funny third-act are treated to one of the funniest credit sequences you’ve seen this side of Anchorman.

The film also has a bit of heart as Andy isn’t portrayed as a 2D character just looking to get his jolly off with a woman. He’s a complicated character who’s torn between looking good in-front of his friends, finding a woman whom he really likes and wants to be with, and sustaining some sanity in a workplace that rivals the Quik Stop in Clerks for its zany employees. Combine this all together with a barrel of laughs and you have a great picture.

Finally, this review wouldn’t be complete without acknowledging Judd Apatow’s excellence in directing this picture. Forced to see two of his most promising TV shows (Freaks & Geeks, Undeclared) canceled at the hands of FOX (and who hasn’t by now), Apatow bounces back in his big screen debut with roaring success in what has a good chance in being the year’s best comedy.   

While the Academy Awards stay away from comedies like this, one can only hope someone gets some recognition for managing to break the mold for a sex comedy and craft something that should inspire future generations to take notice of the skills presented in putting this picture together. As it stands now, The 40-Year Old Virgin is one of the year’s finest films and it would be a shame for anyone to miss it.