Review: Get Smart

Reviewed: 5th July, 2008
Director: Peter Segal
Writers: Tom J. Astle and Matt Ember (characters created by Mel Brooks and Buck Henry)
Starring: Steve Carell, Anne Hathaway, Dwayne Johnson, Alan Arkin, Terence Stamp

My Rating: 7 out of 10

I was surprised at how much I liked Get Smart. I had been expecting a slapstick comedy with guns involved, but the film proved to be something more akin to the Bond films of Pierce Brosnan’s era, only they’d been played for laughs as much as for excitement.

The film follows Maxwell Smart (Carrell), the top analyst for spy agency CONTROL, who wants to be a field agent. He gets his chance when the evil KAOS organisation kills most of CONTROL’s agents, forcing the Chief (Arkin) to promote Max and partner him with the mysterious Agent 99 (Hathaway). What follows is a spy romp across Russia and the US as Max and 99 take on the forces of KAOS and its nefarious leader Siegfried (Stamp).

There was never any better choice for the role of Max than Steve Carrell, who I think is one of the best comedic actors of our time. He doesn’t play the exact same character that Don Adams did in the 60s, but it would’ve been a mistake to. Carrell’s Maxwell Smart… well, he actually has character. He’s still clumsy, sure, but he’s also pretty smart, and not to shabby at all the action-spy stuff, and over the course of the movie he develops confidence in himself. Max may not be an Oscar-worthy character, but I appreciate having a bit of character between the jokes and the action.

The rest of the cast do well. I was never fond of the casting of Anne Hathaway as 99 – for one thing, she seems much too young – but the actress does manage to capture the class that Barbara Feldon gave the original character back in the 60s, and she has great chemistry with Carrell. Alan Arkin is great as the cantankerous Chief, playing the old warhorse that would prefer to be back in the game, and I almost cheered when Arkin gets in on the action with some fisticuffs. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is a natural movie star, with charisma and a good sense of humour on top of his action credentials, and I wish he’d been given a bigger role than that of Agent 23, CONTROL’s star field agent. Terrance Stamp is wasted in the role of Siegfried: he’s a fantastic actor, but Siegfried is such a simple character that he doesn’t warrant the talent.

There’s action a-plenty in the movie, more than I was expecting. There’s a chase at the end involving all the main characters, a car, a plane, a train and a fair few explosions, and its one of the cooler action sequences I’ve seen lately. Spielberg should take some notes, ‘cause this car chase kicked the ass of the one from Indy 4.

There was also some great humour in the film, and not all of it was the simple slapstick. The back-and-forth between the characters was very funny, especially between the uber-professional 99 and the bumbling Max. They also manage to work the classic jokes into the film without making it cringe-worthy – heck, they were pretty funny, and didn’t even feel that forced. Again, I’ve gotta give props to Steve Carrell: He is one of the funniest actors around at the moment.

There’s not a whole lot more to say about the movie. It’s not very deep, it’s not very nuanced. But it is fun, which is the most important thing with one of these movies, and I’ll recommend it to anyone reading.

My Rating: 7 out of 10

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2 Responses to “Review: Get Smart”

  1. ozfinn Says:

    Yeah I too was quite surprised by how much I liked Get Smart. I thought it would be entertaining and I’m generally a fan of Steve Carell (although the less said about Evan Almighty, the better!). But Get Smart was REALLY good. Funny, well-paced, well-acted. The only down-side was a limp villain, but hopefully they’ll correct that in the, inevitable sequel.

  2. patrick Says:

    Get Smart looks pretty good over all though it seems like Steve Carell is veering toward an excess of slapstick humor

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