A different but still hilarious "Get Smart"

June 25, 2008, midnight | By Anika Manzoor | 12 years, 3 months ago

Modern take on classic sitcom succeeds

No matter how well-crafted a remake is, there will inevitably be unhappy fans of the original. The movie "Get Smart," based on the 1960s sitcom of the same name, will surely disappoint those who were hoping for a nostalgic replication of the original. In many respects, the movie is quite different from the show, but it does a commendable job of paying homage to the sitcom while altering the comedic style to cater to current tastes.

Maxwell Smart (Steve Carell), a bumbling and dim analyst at the fictional spy agency CONTROL, desperately wishes to be a field agent like the agency's best man, Agent 23 (Dwayne Johnson). Despite his shortcomings, Smart passes his field exam with flying colors but ironically fails to get promoted because CONTROL's Chief (Alan Arkin) feels Smart is too good of an analyst to promote. But when CONTROL's nemesis group KAOS disposes of many CONTROL agents and breaks into their headquarters, Chief has no choice but to pair Smart - now known as Agent 86 - with Agent 99 (Anne Hathaway), a skilled agent who is less than happy with the partnership, to stop KAOS masterminds from whatever diabolical plan they have hatched. When Smart is finally brought into the action, he soon learns that mastering a real mission is much more difficult and dangerous than passing a mere field test.

If viewed as just a comedy and not as an adaptation, "Get Smart" is simply a hilarious film. The jokes elicited laughter every time, even though they were a bit corny and predictable at times. However, there were several that were brilliantly executed - most of which came from Carell - and left the audience in stitches. The action scenes did a good job of mastering both excitement and humor, particularly the climactic scene near the end.

Although the film had more suggestive humor than the TV show, the slapstick silliness was of the same mold and a couple of lines were subtly borrowed from episodes, tweaked cleverly to be more present-day relevant. The filmmakers also used unforgettable props and other ideas, such as the new high-tech yet still ineffective Cone of Silence and the infamous shoe-phone, which delightfully paid tribute to the show.

Although Steve Carell is no Don Adams, the original Max Smart, his unique charm made for a hysterical but different Agent 86. Don Adams' Smart had a trademarked nasal, New York accent and a dimwittedness that cannot be replicated, so Carell could only do what he does best. In fact, it was striking how similar Carell's Smart was similar to Michael Scott of "The Office," an equally dimwitted icon of American television. Although diehard Adams fans will probably not appreciate Carell's spin on the character, anyone with an open mind, particularly fans of the actor, will enjoy Carell's characteristic deadpan expressions, spot-on delivery – basically the sheer Michael-ness of his portrayal.

Hathaway and Arkin perform notably as supporting characters. Hathaway gives Agent 99 a little more spunk and humor than was present in the original and has great chemistry with Carell, despite the creepiness of their 20-year age difference. Arkin is only featured in a handful of scenes but portrays Chief believably as an authoritative and experienced Agent, comically playing the part of the old fogey who still hasn't lost his mojo. Johnson's character, on the other hand, seemed a bit forced and dimensionless, as if it was just stuck there, and more could have been done to develop him further.

But one thing to remember is that the movie, like the show, is meant to parody the secret agent genre and does so obviously and humorously. Keeping in mind that the movie is not meant to be a mere reproduction of the show, you should "get smart" and enjoy this movie for what it offers.

"Get Smart" is rated PG-13 for some rude humor, action violence and language and is now playing in area theaters.

Anika Manzoor. Although she may look like a cute and innocent freshman, Anika is actually a SENIOR(!!), who kicks butts and takes names on a daily basis. But otherwise she's very friendly with a sunny disposition and a constant snarl - er smile on her face =D … More »

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