Get Smart

Get Smart

Film review by: Witney Seibold

I suppose if there must be a film version of Mel Brooks’ and Buck Henry’s 1965 spy-themed sitcom “Get Smart” with Don Adams, this is the way to do it. Cast Steve Carell as Maxwell Smart and Anne Hathaway as Agent 99, then try to include some really talented reliables like Alan Arkin and Terrence Stamp. Cast Patrick Warburton in any role, and get The Rock– er… I mean Dwayne Johnson to do funny things. Get a mildly bland, but amiable director (in this case Peter Segal of “My Fellow Americans” and “The Nutty Professor II” fame/infamy), and expand the action sequences so the oft-lame humor doesn’t weigh down the entire affair. That way, you’ll have a “Get Smart” movie that is genial, brisk, jolly, and features enough talent to save itself from any hackneyed in-jokes or tireless “funny” pop culture references. I hate to say it, but I actually enjoyed watching “Get Smart.”

Only cursorily based on the original TV show, this film follows CONTROL pencil-pusher Maxwell Smart who dreams of being a real-life field agent someday. When CONTROL is invaded and sabotaged by agents from their rival KAOS, it’s up to the remaining agents left uncompromised (including, in addition to Anne, Steve and The/Dwayne, are David Koechner, and Masi Ota) to head out into the field, and catch the bad guy responsible (Stamp). There are a few “wacky” scenes in which Smart tries out his Bond-ian arrow gadgets and impales himself a bunch. There is a scene where Carell and Hathaway have to don formal ware and infiltrate a high-end party.

In this party scene, Anne Hathway must put on a slinky dress with a slit way up one thigh. Something for the dads, I suppose. If you do not believe in a divine being, try explaining Anne Hathaway’s thighs to me.

Much of the film’s humor stems from the chemistry between 99, an old pro, and Smart, a quixotic newbie. They bicker, make goofy observations about enemy agents, and ultimately make a good-natured mockery of the Cold War paranoia out of which the original show sprang. Had the entire film hinged on these jokes, the film would have fallen apart, so Segal wisely allows “Get Smart” to occasionally mutate into a regular-old action flick with chases and escapes. No tension in these scenes, but a lotta high-energy speed. This is a novel approach, as it allows a balance.

It’s been said that spy spoofs are almost as tired as spy movies at this point (three “Austin Powers” films? Three? Really?), and I can agree with this statement. But just as we still occasionally long for another James Bond flick, we also occasionally long for a good spy spoof. This year, we get the next Bond film, but we’ve had “Get Smart” and “OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies” to counterbalance. Q is in his lab, and all is right with the world.

Let's see that again.
Let’s see that again.

Published in: on August 2, 2008 at 12:06 am  Leave a Comment  

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