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Ouch... now that smarts!

Im not ashamed to admit that years ago I ordered a secret decoder ring from the back of a comic book. I was enthralled by the world of espionage and obtaining an encryption device was an easy first step into this alluring occupation. I had previously purchased X-ray specs and sea monkeys and was less than satisfied with the results. Fortunately, the decoder ring was a quality product, which consequently restored my faith in comic book merchandise. Once I received my coding device, I penned countless messages and left them around my house to baffle and confuse my innocent family. I laughed as my brothers tried to make sense of my cryptic musings. This thrill was short-lived, however, as one of my brothers started distributing his own notes, claiming that the unreadable gibberish made complete sense to him. I quickly realized that writing secret messages was only fun if someone else could understand them. I considered my mother but opted instead for a neighborhood friend whom I felt I could trust. I showed him the decoder and schooled him on the unique penmanship. Our plan was to infest the neighborhood with perverse messages that only we could understand. Unfortunately, my secret language was compromised when I inadvertently left my decoder at his house. When he returned it the following day, my mother took it upon herself to decode a few of my leftover messages. Needless to say, she was not happy with my choice of words and quickly put an end to my dreams of espionage. Alas, I could always count on television and film to fill my yearning for adventure. The gadgetry of James Bond was enticing, but at ten-years-old, I was a sucker for a cheap laugh. Not surprisingly, my favorite secret agent fix came in the form of Maxwell Smart in the hit television series Get Smart. Get Smart was also one of the few shows that I could watch with my father. He enjoyed the comedic timing of actor Don Adams and I enjoyed the slapstick nature of the storylines. The show seemed to coalesce our two worlds somewhere between Barney Miller and Scooby Doo. I have many happy memories yucking it up with my father while watching Get Smart. So when I heard that the series was readying for a return, I was understandably excited. In this updated version, Steve Carell and Anne Hathaway assume the roles of Agent 86 and Agent 99 within the government agency CONTROL. Not surprisingly, terrorist organization KAOS is still functioning and planning even bigger attacks against the free world. Unfortunately, the modern version of Get Smart failed to reignite any of the intrigue of the original series. Anne Hathaway proved to be an acceptable 99, but Steve Carell was nothing more than a caricature of Steve Carell. I admit that he is a powerful comedic icon at the moment, but unless he attempts to morph into characters other than himself, I fear the public will soon grow weary of his shtick. Check this one out if youre in the mood for a standard comedy. There are a few laugh-out-loud moments, but overall the film is one predictable scene after another. Its unfortunate that this opportunity wasnt tackled with more fervor, as a string of follow-ups in the vein of the Pink Panther films could have developed. A lackluster C for Get Smart. Video Pick of the Week: Persepolis Heres one that will leave you startled. Persepolis is the animated coming-of-age story of a headstrong Iranian girl who lives through the Islamic Revolution. The cartoon style presents a strange juxtaposition to the harsh reality of the war, but the results are nothing short of magnificent. This film lost the Oscar to Ratatouille but it will undoubtedly stand as one of the great animated features of the decade. If youre willing to try something different and dont mind subtitles, I am confident you will be swept away by this unique motion picture. Got a question or comment for Dom? Contact him at moviediary@comcast.net

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