Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (March 18, 2021)
Plenty of movies get direct-to-video sequels. However, 2008’s Get Smart big-screen adaptation took things to a new degree, as it put out a “parallel story” with some of that flick’s supporting characters that hit the shelves mere days after the parent film’s theatrical release.
The awkwardly titled Get Smart’s Bruce and Lloyd Out of Control focuses on the film’s tech geeks, Bruce (Masi Oka) and Lloyd (Nate Torrence) and takes place during the events of Get Smart. The guys work to perfect Optical Camouflage Technology (OCT), an invisibility cloak. They encounter power problems but eventually solve these.
Problems evolve when the OCT goes missing. They suspect their rivals at the CIA. It turns out they don’t have it, but they want it and will try to steal it.
So where is it? Representatives of a “small, angry nation” called Maraguay have stolen it for the use of dictator Klaus Krause (Ruben Garfias). The Under-Chief (Larry Miller) turns Bruce and Lloyd into temporary agents so they can pursue the OCT.
First things first: the disc’s case promises “surprising star cameos” from Get Smart. How surprising can they be if you announce them on the packaging? I understand the desire to advertise them and sell a few units, but it doesn’t make sense to call them “surprising” in this context.
In any case, viewers shouldn’t expect a lot from the “star cameos”. A few of the theatrical film’s minor characters appear, but only one actual “star” deigns to pop up here. I won’t spill the beans on that person’s identity, but the performer makes a quick phoned-in (literally) turn and that’s it.
So without much star wattage to carry it, Control lives and dies based on its own merits. In that regard, I actually think it does okay for itself, though I went into this flick with very low expectations.
Control smelled of “promotional product”, and I must admit that it’s a clever ploy. If viewers like Get Smart, they’ll want to see it on home video, and since it wouldn’t come out for a few months after its theatrical exhibition, this spin-off capitalized on such interest.
While that’s a bright promotional move, it doesn’t inspire faith in film quality. That’s what makes Control a moderately pleasant surprise, one bolstered by two factors.
First, Get Smart itself isn’t exactly a classic, as it offers a modestly entertaining diversion and not much more. Though it doesn’t besmirch its TV origins, it fails to create anything memorable either.
In addition, those low, low expectations made it easier for Control to satisfy. To be sure, the flick will be no one’s idea of a classic.
The flick’s running time clocks in at an insubstantial 71 minutes, and it’s a padded 71 minutes. The actual story ends around the one-hour mark, so we get a long credit reel extended by outtakes and short deleted scenes.
Though this means Control barely qualifies as feature-length, its brevity works in its favor. The story doesn’t have much depth to it, and the main characters lack the personality to carry a longer tale on their own.
Bruce and Lloyd are your basic science nerd stereotypes, though they don’t degenerate as much as they could, especially in terms of Bruce. He easily could’ve become a cheap Asian gag character, but he actually comes across as the smarter, smoother of the pair.
Lloyd is usually just your usual sloppy fat guy, though. This means he doesn’t stand out as much of a character.
Oka and Torrence show pretty good chemistry, at least, and that factor allows them to make something more fun out of their roles. Torrence seems a little too eager to mug and overact, but he doesn’t harm the part, and he often creates decent comic moments.
Oka is more satisfying as the semi-straight man, and he handles his side of things with aplomb. I don’t think Bruce and Lloyd threaten to become a classic comedy duo, but they entertain.
And the same can be said for Control as a whole. There’s not a whole lot of meat to this package, but I think the film provides decent amusement.
Control zips by at a good pace and throws out just enough humor to satisfy. It may be opportunistic promotional product, but it’s enjoyable promotional product.