Get Smart's Bruce and Lloyd: Out of Control (2008) / Comedy-Thriller
MPAA Rated: PG-13 for crude humor and language
Running time: 72 min.
Cast: Masi Oka, Nate Torrence, Jayma Mays, Larry Miller, Marika Dominczyk, Kelly Karbacz, Ruben Garfias, J.P. Manoux, Patrick Warburton, Terry Crews
Cameo: Anne Hathaway
Director: Gil Junger
Screenplay: Tom J. Astle, Matt Ember
Review published June 30, 2008
If you've seen the film version of Get Smart, you'll recognize Bruce and Lloyd as the comical lab rat R&D developers who come up with the fancy gadgets used by the field agents in CONTROL, portrayed with comic verve by Masi Oka ("Heroes") and Nate Torrence ("Studio 60"). They've been given their own film, going straight-to-DVD just ten days after Get Smart hit theaters, striking while the iron is hot to try to ride the coattails of box office appeal. Written by Get Smart's screenwriters Astle and Ember (Failure to Launch), while it does retain the banter, the sets, and many of the supporting players from the big screen film, this feels like small time leftovers, with a miniscule budget and lackluster direction by Gil Junger (Black Knight, 10 Things I Hate About You). The video textures and cheapness definitely feels more at home on the small screen, where such fare is much more welcome. However, anyone looking for the thrills and excitement of the theatrical film it spins off of should temper expectations, as it is little more than an office comedy with a bland mild thriller plot, meant only for a few pleasant yuks for fans.
This short film, set during the same time as Get Smart (Smart and Agent 99 are in Russia during this time period) involves the boys coming up with their latest breakthrough technology, dubbed OCT (Optical Camouflage Technology) which consists of a cloth that renders whatever that's behind it as invisible to the naked eye. Unfortunately, their test invisibility cloak goes missing at the company party, leaving them to wonder whether it has been stolen or if it's merely still invisible. As they've been in hot water with the boss (Miller, Bee Movie) of late, the duo puts all of their efforts into finding the cloak before it ends up in the wrong hands, namely the arch-villain organization, KAOS.
Just as it was with the theatrical release, the casting proves to be this spin-off's main asset, as Masi Oka and Nate Torrence prove to be fun to watch, even if the plot they are in hits dead spots time and again. Fans of TV's "Heroes" wil enjoys seeing Oka reunite with the actress who plays his girlfriend Charlie on that show, Jayma Mays (Epic Movie, Red Eye), who, coincidentally, plays his new girlfriend Nina in this movie. Although the main players of the cast of Get Smart have naturally passed over appearing here, Anne Hathaway (Becoming Jane) does make a cameo appearance as Agent 99, literally phoning in her performance in a superfluous scene where she chews out Lloyd for not giving her the cool gadgets that Max has.
Though the actors may be game, it should come as no surprise if you've seen Get Smart that the screenplay from the same writers lacks solid laughs on its own (for example, a running joke throughout is that everyone confuses just who is Lloyd and who is Bruce -- har har) without a solid physical performer like Steve Carell to bring energy and breathe life into weak writing. It's not unpleasant, but it does feel like watching a deleted scene reel that someone tied together with a feeble storyline to hold them together. The film is barely feature length, and if you consider that the end credits take up about 10 minutes on their own (it stops every few seconds for outtakes or alternate scenes), this means that it is just barely an hour of story altogether. Pretty skimpy by most movie standards these days.
I do like the idea of a straight-to-video spin-off to give fans something more out of the experience, not dissimilar to how the Wachowskis delivered additional Matrix stories in the Animatrix DVD, but they just didn't put much effort into this one. Given that Get Smart has been a bit of a let down, it practically goes without saying that its spin-off isn't up to snuff either. Perhaps as a series of small webcast shorts, this would have proven to be easier to entertained by, but as a one hour film, the comedic juice runs out early with little to show for it. Unless you were enthralled by Get Smart and are clamoring for more, or are just hardcore fans of Oka or Torrence, I'd say to wait until it becomes a supplement included in the Get Smart DVD release, as it isn't worth even a rental price on its own.
©2008 Vince Leo