Get Smart (2008) **1/2*

Rated: PG-13
Runtime: 1hr 50min
Director: Peter Segal
Stars: Steve Carell, Anne Hathaway, Dwayne Johnson, Alan Arkin
Genre: Comedy
Language: English

Sorry Chief, Get Smart Is Not Very Clever

In a Nutshell

Plot

Straight as an Arrow
Twisty

Sound Quality

Easy to Hear
Incomprehensible

Who's That?

Few Main Characters
Lots

Naughty Words

Mild
Foul

Naked people

None
Lots

Violence

Tame
Bloody

When the line of ticket buyers for Get Smart stretched down the street, my hopes rose high. This would be the first big hit of the summer season. With Steve Carell, Anne Hathaway and Alan Arkin starring, Get Smart the film would be a fond reminiscence of Get Smart the TV series. Unfortunately, there was not enough in the film to make that happen! Mel Brooks and Buck Henry created the TV show in the mid sixties. It was a huge hit and ran for five seasons. It starred the comic Don Adams and the beautiful model/actress Barbara Feldon. Adams won three Emmys as the bumbling spy who saved the free world on a weekly basis. The show of course was a spoof on the spy genre films and TV shows of that period.

Peter Segal who directed the movie made a wise choice in casting Carell as Maxwell Smart, (Agent 86) and Anne Hathaway as Agent 99. Did we ever know what her name was? Carell who certainly shines in his series, The Office is fine as a desk jockey in a spy agency longing for some exotic work in the field. Hathaway defines her role by displaying much exuberance, athleticism and a great pair of gams.

The always wonderful Alan Arkin and Terence Stamp are simply not given enough amusing or exciting situations to show their countless talents. Dwayne Johnson (The Rock) plays the secret agent that Maxwell looks up to and one day hopes to emulate. You can guess how that turns out.

The plot is where it all turns chaotic. KAOS, (the bad guys) led by Siegfried, (Terence Stamp) has destroyed CONTROL ( the good guys) and compromised the identities of all CONTROL’S agents. Well, all but one agent — remember that desk jockey Maxwell Smart, his time has arrived. He becomes Agent 86 and teams with agent 99, who just recently had a facial identity change (how convenient). Together they’re off to — you know, save the world.

The final 30 minutes of the film is one action sequence after another. They are fairly exciting, but become a bit too much. There is an homage paid to the TV show when Max drives the old red Sunbeam (his car in the series) and when he makes a call on the — you guessed it, the shoe phone. Somehow these scenes which should be fun just fall flat.

The latter part of the film takes place in Moscow where there are a few splendid sequences. There is one in particular where Max and Agent 99 take a romantic walk on a beautifully lit street at night. The sets used for CONTROL’s  headquarters are very high tech and what you would expect  a spy agency to look like.

The level of violence was uncharacteristic for a comedic film as this. Many people are shot, stabbed and quite a few are killed. There are two scenes of men having papers stapled to their heads - ouch!

Perhaps a bit less emphasis on the violence and action and a lot more on the humor would have made Get Smart a more enjoyable film, but it is a summer movie and the line was stretched down the street.

A former teacher of English Literature, Paul J. Cassese taught in the NYC school system for more than thirty years. Paul enjoyed taking the wonderful film courses of Richard Brown and Scott Siegel, and is excited about his new role as an online film reviewer. Going to the movies has been a passion of Paul’s since boyhood. Paul thanks his dad for passing that on to him.

Comments

Cher said on June 24, 2008

 

I agree with you about this one; what a disappointment!

ilene bauer said on June 25, 2008

 

As usual, I enjoyed your review (very well-written!)but, based on what you said, I don’t think I’ll take the time to run to see this one. I have fond memories of Don Adams and Barbara Feldon in those roles and don’t even think a remake was necessary. Sometimes it’s best to just enjoy the memories of the classics without trying to update them!

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