Friday, June 27, 2008

Reel Thoughts: Missed It By That Much

Like a lot of films "based on TV shows", Get Smart can stand on its own as a spy spoof, but not so well as a remake of the original. While I loved Steve Carell and Anne Hathaway, they weren’t Agents 86 and 99, unless they reused the numbers at CONTROL.

Set in the present day, but acknowledging the original show by way of a display at the Smithsonian of Cold War-era artifacts, Get Smart is almost more like a Mission: Impossible parody with passing references to the Don Adams comedy. Carell’s Maxwell Smart is, well, smart, but also a crack analyst for CONTROL. Hathaway’s 99 is a butt-kicking super-agent who has no time for a klutz like Max. Of course, they end up paired together on a desperate mission to save the U.S. from nuclear attack.

James Caan shows up as a Southern doofus of a President not unlike Dubya, while other characters from the original show are re-imagined (Bill Murray, Bernie Koppel, Patrick Warburton, etc.). Duane “The Rock” Johnson is sexy and fun as superstud Agent 23, displaying some good comic timing. Alan Arkin is great as the Chief, but it’s really Carell’s show, and he’s pretty hilarious throughout.

The film drags a bit, but at least Terrance Stamp is on hand as an evil KAOS mastermind. His deadpan delivery is priceless. Get Smart is not the smartest comedy of the summer, but it’s a worthwhile distraction from the burning heat.

UPDATE: Get Smart is now available on DVDfrom

Review by Neil Cohen, resident film critic of Movie Dearest and Phoenix's Echo Magazine.

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