I Saw That!

One woman's opinions about popular entertainment.

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Location: Chicago, Illinois, United States

Amateur boxing coach, Christian (but not so heavenly-minded that I'm no earthly good) singer, writer, self-defense advocate, childfree. feminist www.smartwomenboxingtraining.org

Friday, June 20, 2008

Get Smart (2008)

Maxwell Smart (Steve Carell) is an analyst for CONTROL, a top-secret government agency. He wants to be a full-fledged agent, a desire which is mocked by agents Larabee (David Koechner) and 91 (Terry Crews). Sigfried (Terrence Stamp) stages an attack on the agency, and the identities of its agents are revealed. The Chief (Alan Arkin) then has no choice but to make Max an agent. He sends him out on assignment with competent, confident Agent 99 (Anne Hathaway).

Sigfried, backed by CONTROL's rival agency, KAOS, and assisted by Shtarker (Ken Davitan) amass a collection of destructive nuclear weapons. The goal is to hold the USA hostage. When the goverment refuses to negotiate, Sigfried sets in motion a plan to blow up Los Angeles while the President (James Caan) is visiting the city.

While not all of the gags work, the film does a nice job in attempting to convey the lunancy of the original sitcom (which ran from 1965 to 1970, first on NBC, then CBS). Carell doesn't go for an out-and-out imitation of what Don Adams did with the character. However, whoever picked him for the part was right on the money, because he's charming. Ms. Hathaway plays Agent 99 similar to how the character was on the sitcom, but with more of an modern edge. Dwayne Johnson (aka, The Rock) has fun with his role as Agent 23, a big-man-on-campus type. Arkin has one of the best lines in the film after he decks a cocky Secret Service agent who has insulted him once.

There are several nods to the original show and actors. Max has a picture of Mr. Big on his refrigerator. Mr. Big was the villian on the pilot episode of the sitcom. The phrase "The Claw" is seen written on a pad; that villian also appeared on the show. Bernie Kopell, who was the original Sigfried, and Leonard Stern, the producer of the original sitcom, both have cameos. Bill Murray is seen briefly as the put upon Agent 13. Patrick Warburton shows up as Hymie. An airplane has the name "Yarmy" on the side. Yarmy was the late Don Adams' real last name.

Steve Carell was a cast member on "The Daily Show" (1999-present), and appeared in Little Miss Sunshine (2006). Ms. Hathaway was in The Princess Diaries (2001) and a short-lived TV series entitled "Get Real" (1999-2000). Dwayne Johnson wrestled in the WWE, and has made his mark as an action star in several films including Walking Tall (2004). Alan Arkin was in Catch-22 (1970), and was an original member of The Second City, the famed Chicago-based comedy troupe. Terrence Stamp played villians in The Collector (1965) and Superman (1978).
James Caan, who plays the President, was in "To Sire, With Love" a two-part episode of "Get Smart". He is best known for the role of Sonny, Don Corelone's violent son in The Godfather (1972).

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Sunday, June 15, 2008

The Incredible Hulk (2008)

The opening credit flash through how Bruce Banner (Edward Norton) underwent an experiment dealing with gamma rays. The experiment went wrong, changing Banner into a huge, green creature who caused a hell of a lot of destruction. In the melee, Betty Ross (Liv Tyler), Banner's girlfriend, was hurt. Her dad, General Ross (William Hurt) and the U.S. goverment conducted a manhunt for Banner, which is where the plot begins.

Banner is hiding out in Brazil, taking martial arts lessons, working in a bottling factory, and learning to keep his temper under control. It's his temper that causes the green Hulk to appear. The U.S. government finds where he's hiding after a minor accident ends up with some of his blood dropping into the juice the bottling factory distributes. An unlucky consumer (Stan Lee) ends up drinking it. Banner turns into the Hulk and escapes capture.

He ends up hiding out at Betty's place, but trouble follows him there. General Ross has enlisted the help of a top-level military guy named Emil Blonsky (Tim Roth) to help nab Banner. Blonsky agrees to be injected with the same gamma rays that now infect Banner. Unlike Banner, Blonsky likes having destructive power.

I didn't see the earlier Hulk movie that was directed by Ang Lee, so I can't compare the two. There were some nice touches. Stan Lee, who created The Incredible Hulk (as well as Spiderman and the Fantastic Four) for Marvel comics, has a cameo. Lou Ferrigno, who played the Hulk on the TV series which ran from 1978-1982, shows up as a security guard. Even the late Bill Bixby, who was Bruce Banner on the same TV show, is seen in a clip from an earlier series he was in, "The Courtship of Eddie's Father" (1969-1972). Robert Downey Jr. also has a cameo, tying in Iron Man with this movie. Tim Blake Nelson (Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?) appears as a scientist.

However, the film is not as good as Iron Man, which is based on yet another Marvel Comics superhero. The chemistry between Norton and Tyler is not there, and after awhile, the fights between the Hulk and others seem to run into each other.

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Monday, June 09, 2008

Sex And The City (2008)

I guess you had to be a big fan of the HBO comedy-drama of the same name to love this movie. I've only seen a few episodes of the uncensored ones on HBO (I don't watch the sanitized ones shown on TBS). I see why it appealed to some women, but I doubt that all women related to it. I certainly didn't. I don't have the fabulous careers nor the taste (or care) for designer clothing and accessories. This film is basically a long episode of the show, which picks up on the lives of Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker), Samantha (Kim Cattrall), Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) and Charlotte (Kristen Davis), four years after the end of the original series.

Everything seems to be going well for all, but hold on -- the shakeups begin. Samantha feels tied down by her love relationship with actor Smith (Jason Lewis) even though their professional one is great. Miranda and husband Steve (David Eigenberg) have a falling out. Carrie and Mr. Big move in together then decide to get married, but trouble shows up. Charlotte appears to be the only one living in romantic bliss with her attorney husband (Evan Handler) and their cute adopted daughter. But then she gets some news that changes her world. The characters spend most of the movie lifting each other up as they deal with their various problems.

Louise (Jennifer Hudson) is a personal assistant that Carrie hires because she reminds her of when Carrie was young and new to New York. The Louise character seems to be a response to critics who complained about the lack of people of color in the HBO series. Louise is not a big part of the story. But then, neither are the men, not even the Mr. Big character who was so prominent in the series. The focus is purely on the women and their challenges, and it's a long two and a half hours.

Ms. Parker was a cast member on "Square Pegs" (1982-1983). Chris Noth was a cast member on "Law and Order: Criminal Intent" (2005-2007). Jennifer Hudson won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role in Dreamgirls (2006).

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