It’s 2 a.m. and you awake with a jerk, alone in your fully lit apartment and still on the couch. On TV, the credits of some movie you’ve already seen a billion times are scrolling by. It feels like rock bottom. And we know, because we’re just like you: single.
Need a movie to keep you company until you literally can’t keep your eyes open? Join us tonight when we pass out to Get Smart [starting @ 10 p.m. on HBO Signature]
Why we’ll try to stay up and watch it: Count us among the people who were worried about Steve Carell’s movie career. Since Little Miss Sunshine debuted in the summer of 2006, our favorite master of awkward pathos has seen his movie career go kinda stale—Evan Almighty? Really?—and, with the exception of Date Night, co-starring Tina Fey, his upcoming slate of films seems filled with similar middle-of-the-road mediocrity. It was his participation in Get Smart, though, that really stuck in our craw. To wit: Why would a talent like Steve Carell waste his time taking on the role of Maxwell Smart in an ill-advised, big-budget adaptation of a long forgotten television series? And then we saw Get Smart and figured it all out. Simply, this is a movie where Steve Carell gets to play James Bond and make out with Anne Hathaway. If you can’t get behind an actor wanting to partake in something like that, you should probably reevaluate your priorities.
This isn’t to say that Get Smart is a pinnacle of comedic filmmaking. Director Peter Segal, best known for the highly underrated 50 First Dates, is the type of comedy director who still thinks jokes about the noise someone urinating makes are funny (spoiler alert: they’re not). But he’s at his best when he just points the camera at Mr. Carell and lets him act silly.
That being said, most of our enjoyment of this thing stems from the chemistry between Mr. Carell and Ms. Hathaway. Hatchi matchi! Against all odds, these two actually burn up the screen together. We know. It doesn’t make any sense to us, either (Mr. Carell is 20 years Ms. Hathaway’s senior), but we totally buy their hastily sketched relationship. Huzzah’s for this probably should go to Ms. Hathaway, who has proven herself to be one of the most charming—and lets face it, straight-up gorgeous—actresses working in film today. She looks like she’s having a blast in Get Smart and shows enough comedic range to stand toe-to-toe with Mr. Carell. Imagine if Knocked Up had actually starred her, like it was originally supposed to, instead of Katherine Heigl?
When we’ll probably fall asleep: Can we make a rule that Alan Arkin has to appear in every movie, well, ever? The Oscar winner shows up in Get Smart as The Chief, and while he’s only onscreen for roughly 10 minutes, he’s flat-out hilarious; the interactions he shares with Mr. Carell are simply to die for. So we’ll make it to 12:32 a.m., 92 minutes into the movie, when Mr. Carell’s Agent 86 crashes his car into a plaster swordfish (you can see for yourself) and asks aloud, “Are you thinking what I’m thinking?” To which The Chief deadpans, “I don’t know. Were you thinking, ‘Holy shit, holy shit, a swordfish almost went through my head?’ If so, yes.” Someone cast these two as father and son and get it over with already.