Ken's Review: Get Smart - Nothing Smart About It
by Ken Evans
June 20, 2008
When it comes to TV shows being made into films, they usually don't turn out very well. The list of bad adaptations far outweighs the good. Movies like The Beverly Hillbillies, Bewitched, Starsky & Hutch, Wild Wild West, and Dukes of Hazard cast a constant shadow on the TV-to-film adaptations. Sure there are a few that turned out great, like The Untouchables, Mission Impossible and The Fugitive, but those can't make up for a string of trainwrecks. Get Smart is Hollywood's newest attempt at resurrecting an old show, and while it definitely isn't worthy of much praise, I'll admit I was definitely entertained.
Analyst Maxwell Smart (Steve Carell) has always wanted to be a field agent for the secretive spy agency known as Control, whose duty is to protect the US from an evil group known as Kaos. Smart gets his wish when the headquarters of Control are attacked and Kaos learns the identity of all of their current field agents. The Chief (Alan Arkin) has no other choice but to put Maxwell and Agent 99 (Anne Hathaway) out into the field to find out what mayhem Kaos is planning this time.
From what I remember of the old TV series, this showed very little resemblance. Sure there are a few scenes that seemed to be taken right from the show, but overall the feeling was very different. It feels like the show was just a springboard for them to reinvent an old idea. Maybe if they had stuck more to the source material instead of trying to update it, it might have worked. Instead we get left with a somewhat funny, very chopped up comedy that lacks feeling.
Steve Carell is extremely funny and I would see anything with him in it. Ever since I first saw him in Bruce Almighty, I wanted more. He actually fit the Maxwell Smart character really well. My only problem with him was that he seemed kind of fake. Actually, just about every character came across fake. They either responded awkwardly to situations or had over-the-top personalities. This can't be the fault of the actors', instead I have to blame the director, Peter Segal, for his acting direction. With every character being quirky, it detracted from how really odd Maxwell actually is. He is supposed to stand out from everyone else in Control, but instead seemed to fit right in.
As for the other actors, everyone seemed to bring their own bit of comedy to the film. Alan Arkin continues to be a personal favorite of mine and I hope he continues to do more films. Anne Hathaway filled the "hot girl who isn't interested in the dorky agent but you know she will actually end up with him in the end" role just fine. Dwayne Johnson will never be an amazing actor, but I still enjoy watching him in the same way I like watching Van Damme or Keanu Reeves. Plus, a short cameo by Bill Murray and a part near the end with Patrick Warburton actually had me laughing quite hard.
Looking back at it now, I can tell that Segal just wasn't able to perfect the combination of comedy and spy movie. It was either just comedy or just spy movie with a little overlap of the two. It's too bad, because I was actually looking forward to this one, having enjoyed the TV show and the first trailers. I will give Segal credit for giving this type of movie a solid effort. Finding that balance of slapstick spoof and cool gadget spy action is tough and not done easily.
Like I said before, this isn't due a lot of praise, but I was definitely entertained. Steve Carell doesn't have to do much to make me laugh. All he has to do is perform his signature loud talking and you'll see a smile on my face. Most of his antics were funny but didn't have me rolling in the aisle like some of his previous performances. The plot is bland and familiar, but served its purpose to set up situations for us to laugh at. Maybe I was just in the mood for some dumb humor, but I wore a grin most of the movie.
Unless I'm completely wrong about The Love Guru, which I highly doubt, Get Smart is the only new release this weekend that is an entertaining film, but not amazing, that I can recommend. However, if you've gotten behind and still haven't seen films like The Incredible Hulk, Kung Fu Panda, or Iron Man, I would suggest you see those first.