, 110 min, 2008
Director: Peter Segal
Writers: Tom J. Astle (written by) & Matt Ember (written by), Mel Brooks (characters) and Buck Henry (characters)
Stars: Steve Carell, Anne Hathaway, Alan Arkin
Get Smart is a better film than we deserve, from material we should expect to be wretched. Here is a high-tech, modern adaptation of an old TV sitcom that actually doesn’t suck! In fact, it’s very good.
Maxwell Smart (Steve Carell of The 40 Year Old Virgin and TV’s The Office) is a bumbling, goofy, sweet, well-meaning and enthusiastic analyst working for an organization called CONTROL. Run by a smart, would-be all-knowing boss known simply as The Chief (Alan Arkin), CONTROL is a CIA-esque spy organization with such operatives as the large but goofy Agent 23 (former pro-wrestler Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson) and the sexy hot shot Agent 99 (Anne Hathaway), an apparently young woman who has some secrets up her sleeve.
CONTROL is faced with terrorist threats from KAOS, a maniacal organization run by Siegfried (Terence Stamp) that wants to use yellow-cake uranium from Chechnya on a location somewhere in Los Angeles. What are they plotting, and why? When he’s promoted, Smart becomes Agent 86 and must team up with 99 to find out.
The movie, directed by Peter Segal (Tommy Boy, My Fellow Americans), is better than it has any right to be. The screenplay by Tom J. Astle & Matt Ember is based on the 1965 TV series starring Don Adams, which was created by Mel Brooks and Buck Henry. Like much Brooks fare, it manages to tread the line between crass and classy, never profane, not above slapstick and “toilet humor” – it’s “smart” about its stupidity.
Carell is the ideal Maxwell Smart, managing to use what few wits he has when he really needs to, and still managing to ring an unusual amount of huge laughs from being…bumbling. Hathaway is sexy and intriguing as his partner and inevitable potential love-interest. Johnson is very funny and tough as Agent 23, who gets jealous of Agent 99 a bit too easily. There are a few surprise cameos that are very funny and enjoyable. The film is well-made and always entertaining. And in these hard times, that means a lot.