Thursday, April 24, 2014

1980 Week: The Nude Bomb

          Just as the original 1965-1970 TV series Get Smart was a direct spoof of the early James Bond movies starring Sean Connery, this disappointing feature-length continuation of the series is a direct spoof of the ’70s Bond pictures with Roger Moore. The notion of poking new fun at 007 probably sounded good on paper, especially after the blockbuster success of The Spy Who Loved Me (1977), but the reasons why The Nude Bomb doesn’t even remotely work are myriad. Firstly, Moore’s Bond movies had already reached the stage of self-parody by the time The Nude Bomb was released. Secondly, Universal Pictures devoted such a meager budget to The Nude Bomb that the studio couldn’t hope to properly lampoon the lavish production values with which ’70s Bond flicks are associated. Thirdly, comedy had moved in a new direction between the end of Get Smart and the release of this feature; although the makers of The Nude Bomb feebly attempt to coarsen the Get Smart brand by adding sex jokes and swear words, the whole enterprise feels hopelessly antiquated. Fourthly and fatally, The Nude Bomb simply isn’t very funny; the pratfalls and puns and sight gags that provided mild amusement on the small screen aren’t nearly big enough to sustain interest on the big screen.
          And those are just the big reasons why The Nude Bomb, well, bombed.
          Among the many small reasons are the absence of beloved Get Smart costar Barbara Feldon, the inclusion of a stupid main plot about a terrorist who wishes to eradicate the world’s clothing so he can outfit people in ensembles of his own design, and the general schlockiness of the production. How schlocky? The movie’s big chase scene literally takes place on the Universal Studios Tour. (That said, old-school nerds will enjoy seeing footage of the tour’s short-lived Battlestar Galactica attraction.) Don Adams, reprising his starring role as inept secret agent Maxwell Smart, does what’s expected of him and nothing more, landing most of his lines well but failing to surmount the innate stupidity of the movie. Subbing for Feldon, actresses Pamela Hensley, Andrea Howard, and Sylvia Kristel provide pale imitations of Bond-girl sexiness because the women are hamstrung by the movie’s family-friendly tone. As for the picture’s villain, Vittorio Gassman has scenery-chewing fun with his role, though he too gets subsumed into the project’s overall mediocrity. So, while devoted fans of the original show might find a nostalgic chuckle here and there, it’s probably wiser to leave happy memories alone—or to fast-forward and watch the enjoyable franchise reboot Get Smart (2008), with Steve Carell and Anne Hathaway.

The Nude Bomb: FUNKY

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