Maxwell Smart (Steve Carell) is on a mission to thwart the latest plot for world domination by the evil crime syndicate known as KAOS. When the headquarters of U.S. spy agency Control is attacked and the identities of its agents compromised, the Chief (Alan Arkin) has no choice but to promote his ever-eager analyst Maxwell Smart, who has always dreamt of working in the field alongside stalwart superstar Agent 23 (Dwayne Johnson). Smart is partnered instead with the lovely-but-lethal veteran Agent 99 (Anne Hathaway). Given little field experience and even less time, Smart - armed with nothing but a few spy-tech gadgets and his unbridled enthusiasm - must thwart the doomsday plans of KAOS head Siegfried (Terence Stamp).
Review by Louise Keller:
The Producers got smart with Get Smart would you believe, and with good reason. They decided to give the audience what it wants. Yes, Maxwell Smart, goofy agent Most Unextraordinaire in the form of everyone's favourite Steve Carell, loaded with all his Get Smart-isms like 'missed it by that much', smart gadgets that need a smart operator to handle and double entendres that push corn and stupidity to great heights. Add to the equation, the lovely 99 in the shapely form of Anne Hathaway, whose huge almond eyes are made even larger by heavy 60s black eyeliner, Alan Arkin as the CONTROL Chief, Dwayne (The Rock) Johnson as the invincible Agent 23 and Terence Stamp as Siegfried, the violin-playing head of KAOS who anticipates the boom at the end of Beethoven's Ode to Joy, and you have pretty good ingredients with which to start.
Of course, things like Irving Szathmary's original music theme are a must and play a big part in the movie remake of the popular TV series that ran for 138 episodes between 1965 and 1970. It doesn't hurt either, that Carell is not unlike the original Maxwell Smart Don Adams, nor that Hathaway is in Barbara Feldon's elegant and mould and Hathaway looks fabulous wearing a little black dress, trench-coat style pants suits and a skin tight sequined gown split up the side that (with a minor adjustment) adapts to a teeny mini.
The story is nothing to write home about and even drags at times, but basically is what you would expect, involving a nuclear weapons, double agents, exploits gone wrong before going right, plus action and droll humour. And Carell and Hathaway work well together. There's a competitive edge between Smart's Agent 86 and Agent 99, who have a running gag of one-upmanship when it comes to their gadgets (a miniature blow gun versus exploding dental floss). I laughed when 99 introduces 86 as her deaf horse groomer (shades of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels) and the fun continues on the dance floor, when Max puts an ultra fat Russian through some nifty moves. Beware the surprise kiss, which is used as an effective weapon in a couple of instances. Watch out too, for Bill Murray as the insecure Agent 13, hiding in a tree safe-house and James Caan as the slow-witted President.
It's all good fun and amiable entertainment in which you can leave your brain at the door and enjoy getting on Maxwell Smart's level. Of course, it might have been taken to another level with a really sharp, witty script.... maybe they're saving it for the sequel.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
It's not funny enough and it's not funny often enough to maintain the legacy as Get Smart supersizes from 30 minute TV chunks to a 2 hour movie marathon. It was always going to be a challenge to make the much loved TV series into a credible movie; for one thing, expectations of the former are far less than expectations of the latter. But even this enlargement could have been better handled, had the filmmakers got the tone right, especially in the relationship between Max (Steve Carell) and his partner, Agent 99 (Anne Hathaway).
Hathaway is not at fault here, though, it's the script and the direction that miss that magic touch. Steve Carrell is also an excellent choice, perfectly capable of playing it seriously for laughs. But Agent 99 is written with less sweet smarts than the one we know and love, as delivered by Barbara Feldon on TV. That sense of her actually being the smarter one but she sweetly letting Max think otherwise was perfectly pitched; this time it isn't accomplished and it grates. Max in the series was smart but bumbling and accident prone; in this movie he's a bit stoopid. Doesn't work.
Also grating is the heavyhanded use of signature items from the show (including the opening and closing credit sequences) and the failure to really re-imagine how Max could use his trademark lines.
Taking things far too seriously in the action department, Get Smart the movie isn't smart enough to realise that the vehicle is there for comedy, and not realistic or even semi realistic (or, would you believe, any level of realistic action).
But both Alan Arkin and Terence Stamp provide much needed dryness, and there are just enough funny bits to save the film from complete failure. Still, I had hoped for more.
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GET SMART (PG)
CAST: Steve Carell, Anne Hathaway, Alan Arkin, Terence Stamp, Dwayne Johnson, Terry Crews, David Koechner, James Caan, Bill Murray, Patrick Warburton, Masi Oka,
PRODUCER: Michael Ewing, Alex Gartner, Andrew Lazar, Charles Roven
DIRECTOR: Peter Segal
SCRIPT: Tom J. Astle, Matt Ember (characters by Mel Brooks, Buck Henry)
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Dean Semler
EDITOR: Richard Pearson
MUSIC: Trevor Rabin
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Wynn Thomas
RUNNING TIME: 110 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: June 26, 2008