Jun 2008 19

Steve Carell stars as Maxwell Smart in this classic TV show adaptation that falls fairly flat unless a joke or gag involves the lead character.
Maxwell Smart is an analyst for the secret government organization, Control, which monitors and international activity, especially that of Chaos, which has plans for world domination. Max finally has a high enough score to make field agent after his 8th try, but the Chief (Alan Arkin) needs him to stay an analyst; as he is the best. Circumstances change after Chaos breaches Control, which they don’t show at all oddly, and all of the agents are compromised, moving Max into the role of agent.
Max teams up with Agent 99 (Anne Hathaway), who hasn’t been compromised since she recently has undergone plastic surgery to remain an agent after a previous outing, and they head to Russia to try and discover what Chaos has been up to. The two bicker and try to prove who is better than one another, bragging about anything they can brag about, as they slowly warm up to one another.
The first problem with this film is that there is a lot of bits and gags in the film that don’t service the story at all, they are just there to try and be funny, unfortunately they usually are mildly humorous. The dancing scene at the party is the best example of this, but there are many other awkward moments where you ask yourself, why this is happening. Also, the film gets absolutely ridiculous on a number of occasions and leaves you just feeling like, what? The final set piece is just absurd and fails to build any real suspense or believability to the proceedings. I also noticed that a few of the sets and action just felt cheap and low budget, and really standing out as fake. The rooftop escape scene is the biggest perpetrator of this in that it comes across as very low budget and short cut.
The film is also terribly unoriginal and builds no real suspense or peril the entire film. The film tends to try and take a lot of the action seriously, instead of playing to jokes, at times and it just doesn’t work or feel very real. The damsel gets caught, the classic double cross, the unlikely romance that buds, it is all text book, which would be fine if it was a really great text book, unfortunately it is mildly stimulating.
Also, the humor in the film is just weak, and many of the jokes just really fall flat on their face. David Koechner and Terry Crews are absolutely terrible and unfunny every time they are on screen, as well as being completely pointless characters. Alan Arkin is also not really that funny, though he doesn’t really have all that much to work with in the first place. Terence Stamp and Ken Davitian have no chemistry and 75% of their jokes warranted barely a chuckle. The writing is just pretty terrible outside of Smart’s stuff and it’s a shame because Carell makes the most of not a lot to work with.
Carell carries the picture and actually makes it worth seeing if you’re a fan of his as he is pretty funny and got a couple of genuine belly laughs out of me. He works well with Hathaway, and they bounce off each other well, with 99’s attempts at humor working most of the time. And luckily we spend a majority of the movie with those two, so when they are doing things plot oriented and moving things forward the movie is good, unfortunately it meanders from this and gets distracted way to easily.
In the end, Get Smart isn’t by any means horrible; there are just a lot of little things to gripe about. Steve Carell and Anne Hathaway are both good, with Carell carrying himself with an awkward confidence that sucks you in and entertains most of the time. There are also a few pretty good cameo’s, with one in a tree being especially good and random, and the script utilizes quick flashbacks through out that are some of the funniest bits of the film, the film just really leaves us wishing that Peter Segal could have made this film at the higher levels that he shows that this material is capable of throughout. If you are a fan of Carell’s humor or Hathaway’s looks there is plenty to enjoy, just don’t expect greatness, and if you can look past the many little blemishes on this film then you should at least get some enjoyment out of this.


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