Get Smart's Bruce and Lloyd Out of Control
Directed By: Gil Junger
Starring: Masi Oka, Nate Torrence, Jayma Mays, Marika Dominczyk, Larry Miller, J.P. Manoux
Warner Home Video sent me a nifty package in the mail about two weeks ago ago that included coupons for tickets to the new Get Smart theatrical feature, a T-Shirt proclaiming "Science is Sexy" with a plug for the Get Smart's Bruce and Lloyd Out of Control direct to video spin-off, and a press release about the latter giving me information about the DVD for prospective reviewers. What they did not include in the package or in any other was an actual copy of the DVD to review. Since they seemed to want me to cover it and they were nice enough to send me so much fun promotional swag, I figured the least I could do is rent a copy and post a review. So here it is ladies and gentlemen: The least I could do…
Reprising their supporting roles from the recent Get Smart theatrical film, Masi Oka and Nate Torrence play Bruce and Lloyd, two Q-like gadget inventors for the ultra secret agency, CONTROL. In events that run roughly coincident with the film's theatrical predecessor, Bruce and Lloyd get into some hot water when their latest invention, an invisibility cloak they refer to as Optical Cloaking Technology (OCT), is stolen from an office party. Prime suspects include their rivals at the CIA and Isabella (Dominczyk), a mysterious agent from the little known nation of Maraguay, which is apparently somewhere between Paraguay and Uruguay. With top agents Max and 99 in the field on another assignment, Bruce and Lloyd must race to recover their invention before the under-chief (Miller) finds out it is missing. They get some help along the way from Nina (Mays), a forensic scientist at CONTROL whom Bruce would ask out if only she did not smell like formaldehyde and dead flesh, and Neil (Manoux), a lab assistant who is constantly finding himself in the unenviable role of reluctant guinea pig for Bruce and Lloyd's inventions.
The novelty of a direct to video sequel to a film that premiered in theaters only 10 days earlier wore thin pretty quickly as I began to realize that the filmmakers would be stretching out a 25 minute sitcom plot (Ricky: Lucy, you better have my invisibility cloak ready by Friday. Lucy and Ethel: Waaaaaaugh!) to nearly 70 minutes plus credits. While there are some sporadically funny bits, including a superfluous but amusing opening sequence with Terry Crews, some physical gags involving not quite perfected inventions, and a couple of minutes with Patrick Warburton amusingly reprising his role as the deadpan android, Hymie, these sequences are milked too heavily and surrounded by too much bad dialog, poor plotting, and run-time padding (every scene transition gets an establishing shot of a recognizable Washington DC location) to prevent the enterprise from self-destructing.
Oka and Torrence are amiable enough leads, although Torrence is clearly the more skilled comic actor of the two. The loose-thread-heavy plot does not really allow them to be active or interesting enough to carry the movie, which turns the film into something of a rudderless ship with its focus frequently getting carried away by the tides. A few cast members briefly reprise their roles from the theatrical predecessor, including the aforementioned Crews and Warburton as well as one of the top-billed stars who goes uncredited here, so I will leave it as a surprise to the viewer. While Warburton's part is technically a cameo, it is at least a bigger cameo than he received in the Get Smart theatrical movie. Every one of these cameos, while entertaining to various degrees, could have been cut out of the film with no effect on the progress of the main story. Larry Miller, who played the CIA chief in the theatrical predecessor, also plays his own twin brother in this film, who is the "Under Chief" of CONTROL. While he actually serves a function in the plot by motivating Bruce and Lloyd to retrieve their stolen technology, he also continues the pattern of cinematic filler by carrying a goes-nowhere subplot involving a rivalry with his brother.
The film's story and humor seem tilted towards the tastes of nine to ten year old kids, which makes the filmmakers' decision to pepper the dialog with enough gratuitous profanity (primarily S-bombs) to earn it a PG-13 rating all the more puzzling.
As insignificant as this film struck me, it just figures that the 16:9 enhanced widescreen transfer would be far and away one of the most outstanding video presentations I have seen on SD DVD this year. It has excellent detail, deep blacks, and is almost completely free of compression or other video artifacts. I noticed only one scene (an exterior with Bruce, Lloyd, and a couple of CIA rivals) that seemed to have some slight compression and edge ringing issues. Otherwise, borrowing the parlance from Mary Poppins, it was practically perfect in every way. A 4:3 full frame presentation is also available on the same side of this dual layered disc, but I did not watch it for the purpose of this review.
The film's 5.1 surround mix does not employ the rear surrounds and LFE channel quite as aggressively as typical modern action films, but it is a much more active mix than one normally gets from television and direct to video fare. In particular, the explosions and mayhem when various gadgets do not quite work as intended are aurally illustrated nicely. The mix is rendered with excellent fidelity by the Dolby Digital 5.1 encoding at 384 kbps bitrate.
Extras consist of three featurettes, all of which are presented in 16:9 enhanced video with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound.
First up is Bruce and Lloyd's Confessionals which runs fourteen minutes and 31 seconds and is presented in 16:9 enhanced video. It consists primarily of reality-TV-style "confessional" interviews of most of the film's cast addressing the camera in character. Clips from the film are used occasionally to put their comments in context. Largely improvised, this extra is actually more consistently funny than the film itself, which makes one realize how much of a disservice the writers did to a fairly talented cast.
Next is Cue the Anti-Follicular Device which runs four minutes and 59 seconds. This featurette looks at the sequences of the film involving an Alopecia inducing ray gun. Emphasis is placed on how the effects were accomplished through make-up. On-camera commentators include Director Gil Junger, J.P. Manoux, Actor Bryan Callen, Nate Torrance, and Make-Up Effects Supervisor Rob Hinderstein.
Finally, Bruce and Lloyd Tech runs thirteen minutes and 25 seconds. In the tradition of the "Science of…[fill in your favorite popular Sci Fi franchise]" books, this featurette looks at the various gadgets and technologies used in the film and provides on-screen musings from filmmakers and real scientists as to what the technical basis would be for such an invention as well as how, if at all, it relates to technology that exists or is in development today. Technologies covered include Optical Cloaking Technology (OCT), Tickle Taser, Gecko Spray, Anti-Stinky Nina Spray (ASNS), Anti-Follicular Device (AFD), and Hymie. It concludes with some general discussions of real world serendipitous scientific discoveries. On-screen participants include Chapman University Biological Sciences Professor Frank Frisch, Producer Alex Gartner, Junger, Property Master Tim Schultz, UC Irvine Physics Professor Michael Dennin, Writers Matt Ember and Tom J. Astle, Masi Oka, Jayma Mays, and Patrick Warburton.
When the disc is first spun up, the viewer is greeted with a series of skippable promos. All are presented with Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo sound in 4:3 video letterboxed as appropriate with running times as indicated below:
- Anti-Piracy PSA using clips from Casablanca (4:3 1:00)
- Get Smart Theatrical Trailer (1:31)
- Mama's Boy DVD Trailer (:32)
- The Bucket List DVD Trailer (:33)
- Fool's Gold DVD Trailer (:32)
- 10,000 BC (:32)
I reviewed a rental copy, so I cannot give my usual packaging assessment other than to say that both the 16:9 enhanced widescreen and 4:3 full frame presentations are presented on the same side of a dual layered disc.
Get Smart's Bruce and Lloyd Out of Control plays more like a cynical attempt to squeeze a few more bucks from a film franchise than a story that anyone involved in the film though really needed to be told. The humor and plot are juvenile and repetitive, with most of the best moments coming from throwaway cameo appearances from actors playing characters that are not important to the main plot. It is presented on disc with an excellent video and very good audio presentation. The extras are more oriented towards entertainment and promotion than behind the scenes information, but the largely improvised Bruce and Lloyd's Confessionals featurette offers more successful moments of humor than the main feature.