Sunday, June 22, 2008

Get Smart

In a summer overpopulated with stupid, silly comedies, Get Smart actually lives up to its title. To be sure, there's some slapstick and pratfalls but overall the laughs don't come as much from the gags and the gadgets but from characters themselves--and most of all from Steve Carell's winning performance as Maxwell Smart.

The movie is crammed full of funny actors. In addition to the main cast of Carell, Anne Hathaway, Alan Arkin and Dwayne Johnson, we get Masi Oka (Heroes) and Nate Torrence (late of Studio 60) as a pair of techno-geeks, Ken Davitian (Borat) as the bad guy's henchman, stalwarts Larry Miller and Kevin Nealon as a pair of snarky CIA agents, Bill Murray as unlucky Agent 13, Patrick Warburton setting up a possible sequel with a brief appearance as Hymie and Bernie Kopell (the ORIGINAL Siegfried) popping up in a blink and you'll miss it cameo. Throw in James Caan, Terence Stamp and even Ryan Seacrest (thankfully, only his voice...) and you've got yourself quite a cast.

But the movie belongs to Steve Carell. As soon as I saw the teasers for this flick, I thought to myself "brilliant casting!" I wasn't so sure about Anne Hathaway, but she acquits herself nicely in the role of Agent 99. Carell, a gifted physical actor, could have skidded by with bumbling shtick, but he imbues Max with intelligence, humanity and empathy. In a scene where the Chief tells him he scored exceptionally high on his Field Agent exam, but that he cannot promote him because he's too good of an analyst, you can see the pain and hurt flicker across Carell's face. Despite the big action set pieces and the goofy gadgets, Carell plays Smart with (mostly) subtlety and finesse. This adaption of the famous TV series has been ten years in the making and way back when, Jim Carrey was attached to play the role of Maxwell Smart. I like Carrey, but what a mistake that would have been. Steve Carell is by far the smart choice to play Maxwell Smart.

This is a fun summer movie--enjoyable for the whole family. A nice combination of comedy, action and (would you believe?) earnest good-heartedness. I liked it.


  1. Not being a big fan of the original TV show, I wasn't expecting to be interested in this movie. But the trailers have made it look funny. I love Steve Carell but the trailers made it look like he actually pulls off the part. Glad to hear it is good. I will have to check it out.

  2. If you're a Steve Carell fan then you should enjoy it. He does a really nice job.