June 22, 2008
Review - " Get Smart " (in Theaters) - By Roland Hansen
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Directed by Pete Segal
Written by Tom Astle & Matt Ember
Starring Steve Carrell, Anne Hathaway, Alan Arkin, Dwayne Johnson
In "Get Smart," Steve Carell re-creates the blundering Maxwell Smart character created
by Mel Brooks and Buck Henry. The show starred Don Adams as Agent 86 of a secret
U.S. government spy agency. Anne Hathaway plays Agent 99, Smart's capable partner.
In the film, the duo try to thwart a plot to arm unstable governments with nuclear bombs.
Dwayne Johnson co-stars as a spy colleague and Alan Arkin as the spy agency's chief.
The brightest spots in this movie are the performances of Steve Carell and The Rock
and I don't think that's a big surprise - they're both talented performers. Carell was
facing a difficult job in reprising an icon created by Don Adams and it's not surprising
that he's able to create a Max that people like. Hiring Carell was clearly the best choice
made by the movie's creative team. The updated movie Max isn’t that different from the
television version. A pleasant-looking man whose dark, pleading eyes suggest reserves
of decency and a deep well of panic, Mr. Carell makes for a markedly different presence
from Mr. Adams. Mr. Carell’s deadpan and implied decency go a long way toward
making “Get Smart” work.
"Get Smart" revives the old TV franchise with the same slapstick derring-do and lightweight comedy that tickled audiences in
the waning days of the Cold War. The supporting players keep the film's comic energy elevated. Dwayne Johnson brings a
larger-than-life swagger to the role of heroic Agent 23. Alan Arkin is warm yet irascible as the Chief, James Caan contributes
a brief, entertaining turn as the president, and Bill Murray tosses off a goofy, underplayed cameo as ever-camouflaged
Maxwell Smart is master at detecting important information in mountains of intercepted chatter. He even knows what it means
if a CHAOS agent orders a muffin with his coffee: yearning for comfort food indicates stress. But (as in real-life Washington)
no one reads intelligence reports. Naturally, Max longs to be a field agent.
Steve Carell, Anne Hathaway and Alan Arkin bring energy and zip to the remake. Carell, the star of “The Office,” sort of half-
assumes the Maxwell Smart position, though. He made a choice not to mimic Adams' whiny, singsong Agent 86 speech
pattern. The casting of "Get Smart" is the secret of its success. Steve Carell, as Maxwell Smart, is inspired casting. He simply
works as Agent 86. It works so well because he is not imitating Don Adams, he is giving the character a his own unique feel.
Hathaway comes to Agent 99 on the high heels of “The Devil Wears Prada” and “Becoming Jane.” She actually comes
closer to mirroring Barbara Feldon (so familiar to some of us as Smart's fellow agent, love interest and even wife on TV)
than Carell ventures to Adams.
What ensues is a perfect blend of comedy, suspense, and explosive megawatt action sequences akin to what you might
expect in Mission Impossible or Die Hard. Steve Carell and Anne Hathaway may appear to many to be the least likely action
stars; however, against the irreverent and comedic backdrop of the film, the two actors prove themselves to be worthy of
secret agent status. Adding to the entertainment of the film, the chemistry between Carell and Hathaway is palpable and
helps to create additional dimensionality.
Venerable actor Alan Arkin shows off his humorous side and adds just the right amount of gravitas to the film, while Terence
Stamp plays a well-cast villain (Siegfried). Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson displays the physical qualities of a superstar agent.
Impressive is Dalip Singh, in his film debut, whose 7'2" 400-pound character provides a formidable antagonist for Agents 86
and 99. It was also a pleasure to see Masi Oka from Hero in a role where he gets to speak English. And Bill Murray makes a
cameo appearance, in a tree, of all places.
"Get Smart" pays homage to the original television version by making use
of some of the original gadgets and catch phrases that made the TV show
such a hit. The big screen version manages to slip these in while remaining
fresh and manages to avoid becoming a caracture of the original.
If you're looking for an ab workout in the form of laughter balanced with
smart dialogue, witty humor, and great action sequences, don't walk,
Run to see Get Smart.