Category Archives: steve carel

Despicable Me

Despicable Me ~ There’s nothing new here in this computer-animated tale of a super-villain trying to stay viable with a younger more ruthless villain nipping at his heels. Complicating matters further is his insidious adoption of three young girls to help further his plans, which backfires in that he begins to care for them.

It’s a simple heartwarming story, but it also works on even simpler more primal levels. Similar to the first Shrek or more accurately the old Warner Bros cartoons, it also has a fun immature hilarity in the Spy Vs. Spy vein.

Only one thing took away from the flick and that was the ‘minions’ of the main character Gru. These creatures, comparable to mumbling Nerf bullets, that act as the villain’s henchmen are supposed to be cute and lovable. I found them annoying and abrasive and disliked the time they spent on the screen. I think I would have rather had more human, and understandable, underlings.

Doubling up their annoyance was the ad before the film that using a phone app one could translate the minions’ mumblespeak. If you want to really make me angry in a movie theater, have your cellphone on throughout – something that most places frown upon, yet this film encourages it!

All that said, Despicable Me was quite enjoyable, maybe a bit rough for the sensitive kids, and maybe even more for the over-sensitive parents, but I really had fun. Recommended.

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Get Smart 2008

Get Smart ~ It is really really difficult to screw up a “Get Smart” movie. Looking at the past attempts – The Nude Bomb in 1980 and Get Smart Again for TV in 1989 – two of the worst movies ever made, you would really have to try diligently to make something worse. Despite the shadow hanging over this film, the 2008 remake of “Get Smart” isn’t bad, it’s not bad at all.

The cast is fun. Steve Carel is a comedy genius, and has yet to fall into any of the traps Jim Carrey (who incidentally was originally cast) did when he was on top. Anne Hathaway is always a delight on screen, and her chemistry with Carel is delicious, inspiring positive comparison to the originals, Barbara Feldon and Don Adams. Always good to see Alan Arkin, and The Rock, Dwayne Johnson rules every scene he’s in. Bill Murray makes an embarrassing cameo while James Caan shows a real flair for comedy as the President. Terrence Stamp does an interesting impression as the typical Malcolm McDowell villain. Even Masi Oka of “Heroes” and Nate Torrence are fun. I wish however that Patrick Warburton as Hymie had been throughout the film rather than half a minute at the end. There is even a quick but great cameo by Bernie Kopell, who played the original Siegfried. But it’s not the cast I take issue with.

Why does this have to be a “Get Smart” movie to begin with? Name recognition? Surely not. No one who was alive when the program first aired or even when it was in syndication is among the major movie-going demographic these days. Is it to make more money for poor Buck Henry, the creator of the series? Maybe. That’s really the only reason I can see. And let’s face it, unless we count “Quark,” Buck does deserve it.

The reason I question this is because really the only weak parts of this film are the “Get Smart” gimmicks and where Carel does his bad Don Adams impression. That’s where it falters, when it tries too hard to be “Get Smart.” If you removed all of those references this would be a fairly strong but simple spy comedy. Really, if you needed name recognition that didn’t make sense to the demographic anyway, why not make it a sequel or remake of Spies Like Us? It works just as well. Worth watching, but I don’t know if I would feel good about paying for it.

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