Carell was the Smart choice
Many of the critics who are pounding “Get Smart” seem to be unfairly comparing the new, big screen adaptation with the popular 60s TV show that starred Don Adams. Whether or not to make a film out of a TV show is a moot argument nowadays but in this case the filmmakers appeared to have made a wise choice. Rather than copy the beloved little series they’ve decided to capture its spirit and upsize the action and slapstick to modern day proportions. No one will ever be as perfectly inept, silly and witty at the same time as Adams but by the same token, no other actor alive could bring something as unique as Steve Carell does to the part of CONTROL Agent 86-and that’s “Get Smart’s” primary raison d’etre.
The beautiful and winsome Anne Hathaway is an updated version of Smart’s sidekick Agent 99 and like many parts of the film, she’s been modernized into a sexier, edgier, and more athletic persona. We can wax nostalgic over Barbara Feldon’s quietly adorable original portrayal, but audiences today wouldn’t stand for it.
As for the comic bits, well, they pretty much rely on Carell’s terrific timing and physicality and of course his lovable loser quality works here–though one wonders how much more mileage the ubiquitous Carell can get out of it (Six big budget comedies in 3 years not including voiceover work and the hugely popular TV show “The Office.”)
There’s the predictable cast of mostly well chosen ensemble players including Alan Arkin as Smart’s boss, Terrence Stamp as the KAOS crime syndicate henchman and others that should be left as surprises. The nods back to the original are well placed and don’t seem overly forced.
A suped-up action sequence towards the end of film that involves some nice train, plane, and automobile stunt work is better than average for this type of mindless summer comedy. Notice we haven’t included any mention of the plot-it’s pretty much irrelevant. For fans of the original “Get Smart” this is an inoffensive homage, for fans of Carell this is a must-see. No classic here but not an embarrassment either. At least three scenes that provoke hearty laughs, a star for each one.
PG-13 for some rude humor, action violence and language