Get Smart, the Proverbs Way

I’ve been eagerly anticipating this summer’s new string of movies, and this Sunday’s paper’s listing of all the upcoming blockbusters, only got me more excited for them to hit the theaters. 

In particular, I’m looking forward to the next Narnia edition: Prince Caspian (May 16), the newest Indiana Jones flick (May 22), M. Night Shyamalan’s latest thriller The Happening (June 13), Pixar’s Wall·e (June 27), and the old school TV show spinoff, Get Smart (June 20). 

In watching these trailers and anticipating the movies, I’ve been thinking particularly about the messages these movies are sending to the masses.  These movies are big, blockbuster hits, ones that millions will see in the coming months. 

I’m excited about the Christian worldview that Prince Caspian might offer, if the director is true to the book’s perspective and values.  The Get Smart film has some wonderful potential for presenting a Christian worldview, but it’s probably not going to be the film that gets the most attention for it this summer. 

If you’re not familiar with the premise of the original Get Smart show, let me fill you in.  Two secret agents, 86 and 99, battle against the bad guys.  Agent 86 (Maxwell Smart) is a bumbling fool who relies on his more experienced and wise sidekick, the sexy agent 99 (we never learn her name, as far as I know) to get the job done. 

Mel Brooks created the original show (Man, that guy has his hands in everything funny, it seems!  I just watched the Producers last week and laughed my head off.).  The humor comes from the irony of the fact that a guy named “Smart” is incredibly stupid and inept, but he manages to fight crime successfully, partly due to dumb luck and largely due to a very wise woman at his side. 

Why do we laugh?  We laugh because we recognize truth and its absence, folly. 

The Bible tells us about wise women like agent 99 and their role in supporting men, to make them better then they are by themselves.  It’s not a demeaning role.  It’s an honorable one: companions and equal workers for a noble cause.  We know from Genesis that when God created man, he was alone, and God created woman as his best suited helper (Genesis 2:18). 

Maxwell Smart constantly defies his name by persisting in clumsy stupidity.  It’s funny because we recognize that his actions should lead to death or at least unemployment. “Understanding is a fountain of life to those who have it, but folly brings punishment to fools” (Proverbs 16:22).

Proverbs, that great book on wisdom, tells us the rewards we can expect from wisdom, true “smarts” (not the type that Maxwell Smart exhibits): 

Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you. Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding. Esteem her, and she will exalt you; embrace her, and she will honor you. She will set a garland of grace on your head and present you with a crown of splendor (6-9).

In true Proverbs 31 fashion, Agent 99 is the wise woman who stands beside her man to offer him help when he needs it: “She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue” (26).  Agent 99 just happens to have a fairly difficult assignment, one that I don’t envy.  Anne Hathaway has some pretty big shoes to fill as 99.  Here’s hoping she can keep Smart in line, as her predecessor, Barbara Feldon, did before her. 


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  1. You have the same “must see” list that I do. I hadn’t even considered the Get Smart/Proverbs link. Good thinking. Would you believe that I laughed outloud just watching the trailer?

    AL: Oh, I totally hear you. I’m the one making my husband show up super early to the shows, so I don’t miss any of the previews!

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