Get Smart


Reviewed by: Tony Sullivan

Get Smart
"Alan Arkin makes the most of his scenes including the best use of the War Room since Dr Strangelove."

While Washington bigwigs argue and with most of their agents compromised, it is up to a newly promoted Agent 86, Maxwell Smart (Steve Carell) and one of the few regulars, Agent 99 (Anne Hathaway) to save the world from a nefarious nuclear blackmail scheme perpetrated by the KAOS organization.

Agents 86 and 99 infiltrate KAOS headquarters and come up against its Teutonic mastermind, Siegfried (a grumpy Terence Stamp), and his sidekick Shtarker (Roly-poly Ken Davitian of Borat fame). With help from super Agent 23 (Dwayne Johnson, aka The Rock) and hindrance from his own ineptitude can the day be saved?

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1965. Get Smart began its life as a sitcom created by Mel Brooks and Buck Henry. In it CONTROL agent 86, Maxwell Smart (Don Adams) and his partner Agent 99 (Barbara Feldon) battle the forces of KAOS invariably bent on Word Domination. The only snag is that despite his confident demeanor, Agent 86 is a complete bungler and generally only completes assignments through blind luck or by the genuine skill of Agent 99.

In these enlightened days of Men's lib it is pleasing to note that the male stereotype of being a secondary player to the female star is changing and Maxwell is not such a boob as his 60s counterpart and is allowed to get it right on occasion. Steve Carell was born to play, well Bob Newhart, actually, but is fairly good casting for Maxwell Smart although he is somewhat lower key than Don Adams confident incompetent incarnation.

As the TV series was clearly a parody of James Bond, the film spares no expense in recreating 007-like action sequences, notably a parachute jump scene lifted from the Roger Moore Moonraker. There is also a nice line in high-tech gadgets which invariably go haywire for Smart, a Swiss Army knife with built in crossbow provides some painful laughs. For the nostalgic among us, some of the low-tech gadgets from the original series get trotted out for good comic effect, too.

Best of all is Maxwell's boss, The Chief, played with a short fuse by the always reliable Alan Arkin, who makes the most of his scenes including the best use of the War Room since Dr. Strangelove.

Despite many good moments one can’t help thinking this should be better; maybe two rewrites away from perfection. Bill Murray’s cameo as the forever camouflaged Agent 13 just falls completely flat. Inept technicians, Bruce (Masi Oka) and Lloyd (Nate Torrence) get one good scene but are ill-used otherwise. In what might be the fastest spin-off ever these two have their own direct-to-DVD movie, the awkwardly titled Get Smart’s Bruce And Lloyd Out Of Control by way of compensation.

Still, there have been worse comedies this summer and I might actually welcome a sequel if just to see Agent 86 marching down the almost endless corridor of doors that was the series opening credit sequence once more.

Reviewed on: 06 Jul 2008
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That would be the old resurect- the-nostalgic- 60s-TV Show trick.
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Maria Realf ***

Director: Peter Segal

Writer: Tom J Astle, Matt Ember, based on characters created by Mel Brooks, Buck Henry

Starring: Steve Carell, Anne Hathaway, Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson, Alan Arkin, Terence Stamp, David Aranovich, Jessica Barth, William Charlton, Terry Crews, Ken Davitian, Fred Fein

Year: 2008

Runtime: 110 minutes

BBFC: 12A - Adult Supervision

Country: US


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