Ken's Review: Get Smart - Nothing Smart About It

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.

Agent 23, Agent 86, Larabee, and Agent 99 survey the damage to the Control headquarters in Get Smart.Get Smart Review

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.

Maxwell Smart commandeers a car in his pursuit of Kaos in a scene from Get Smart.Get Smart Review

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.

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Dwayne Johnson is charismatic as it gets. I love seeing him on screen. And I'm guessing by your review that this movie resembles "I Spy" quite a bit?

SOLID SNAKE on Jun 20, 2008


Nice review. I'll be checking this out during the weekend. Glad to hear that the Bill Murray rumor was true.

Cinexcellence on Jun 20, 2008


Never expected this to be that good - I'll pass and catch it on dvd.

dom on Jun 20, 2008


let me ask you this then, how hot is anne hathaway in the film?

harrison on Jun 20, 2008


Well, nothing new this week looks any good. I'm going to go see HULK smash stuff again.

dac_fan on Jun 20, 2008


I've got to disagree, I didn't find the plot all that predictable (other than the romance, but that's the case in pretty much all films). The humour was a lot faster than in the show, but I laughed out loud many, many times. A lot of it was dumbed down, but there were some great background jokes they'd just throw in there, and overall, it was an extremely entertaining film.

Alyx on Jun 22, 2008


I thought this was VERY good and completely 100% agree with #6, summing up all that I was going to say. The WORST part? The trailer beforehand for DISASTER MOVIE which sadly got laughs.

Ryan on Jun 22, 2008


I also have to disagree Ken this deserves a MUCH better review than The Happening. I would give Get Smart at least an 8 out of 10. Here is my review from Napier's News:

Napiers News on Jun 23, 2008


Some TV series age well. Unfortunately Get Smart (like the campy "Man From Uncle" series it parodies) isn't one of them. So I was expecting a disaster of a movie. However that's not what happened. This time around I found myself liking Maxwell Smart and Agent 99 even while there were strong echoes of their 1960's counterparts. The roles were perfectly cast and to my surprise I laughed consistently throughout most of the film. The plot line is predictable, but what did you expect really? Serious drama? No, this is a good rework of the original slapstick humor and one liners. This film reminds me of "Galaxy Quest" in that it takes a TV icon and lovingly recreates the feel and atmosphere of the original. This isn't an attempt to make Get Smart into something it wasn't. So if you understand this, you'll enjoy the film. Otherwise it's going to seem a bit silly, precisely because it's supposed to be. That said, everyone works hard in this film and The Rock demonstrates he can leave ego aside to play a side role quite perfectly.

Alastair Stell on Jun 24, 2008


I think this review is spot-on. I just saw it last night with high hopes (I used to love the show when it ran on Nick-at-Nite), and I was a little bit let down. There were plenty of really funny moments I couldn't laugh at because the music and direction were telling me I should be hanging on the edge of my seat. A better execution of the comedy-spy sub-genre is "Johnny English". And that wasn't exactly a modern classic either. I felt that all the right elements were there to make a good movie, but the execution could have been much better.

Mark P on Jun 26, 2008

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