Movie Review for Get Smart (2008)

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Review #653 of 365
Movie Review of Get Smart (2008) [PG-13] 110 minutes
WIP™ Scale: $10.00
Where Viewed: United Artists Denver Pavilions Stadium 15, Denver, CO
When Seen: 19 June 2008
Time: 12:01 am
DVD Release Date: 4 November 2008 (click date to purchase or pre-order)
After the Credits: There is nothing after the credits.
Film's Official WebsiteFilm's Trailer

Soundtrack: Download now from Trevor Rabin - Get Smart - or - order the CD below

Directed by: Peter Segal (The Longest Yard)
Written by: Tom J. Astle (Failure to Launch) • Matt Ember (Failure to Launch) characters by Mel Brooks and Buck Henry

Featured Cast (Where You Might Remember Him/Her From):
Steve Carell (Horton Hears a Who! ) • Anne Hathaway (Becoming Jane) • Dwayne Johnson (The Game Plan) • Alan Arkin (Rendition) • Terence Stamp (September Dawn) • Terry Crews (Street Kings) • David Koechner (Drillbit Taylor) • James Caan ("Las Vegas") • Bill Murray (The Darjeeling Limited) • Patrick Warburton (Bee Movie) • Masi Oka (Balls of Fury) • Nate Torrence (Suits on the Loose) • Ken Davitian (Meet the Spartans)

Click for 'Review Lite' [a 150-word or less review of this film]
Click to see photos or video coverage from the Premiere of Get Smart
Click to read the spoiler points for Get Smart
Whether due to too much build up of anticipation from the previews and popular AT&T "Silence your cell phone" promos, over-excitement of the thought of dramedy superstar Steve Carell uttering "missed it by that much" in nearly perfect Don Adams cadence, or just a failure to translate well into the 2000s, it's difficult to report that the new Get Smart film also featuring the acting talents of Anne Hathaway (Agent 99), Dwayne "formerly The Rock" Johnson (Agent 23), Alan Arkin (The Chief), and Terence Stamp (Siegfried the really bad dude), despite some amusing parts and great tributes to the original show and stars, didn't turn out very well. First, there's something just off about everything from the first frame to the last. Certainly, there's a prime case of everyone overdoing it a bit—which is to be expected. Second, it's just not that funny and nearly all of the funniest parts are in the preview (including but not limited to the part where Agent 23 uses a stapler to staple a memo to Agent Larabee's head). Third, the story is about an intriguing and interesting as that used for Mission: Impossible I. There is a twist, but if you cannot see it coming a mile away, you fell asleep at the umpteenth self-deprecating line for Maxwell Smart. If you loved the original TV show, you'll enjoy the many tributes to it, but you'll probably be wondering if you'd still love the show if you watched it new today. It's always difficult to predict what will translate well into a future update; and, despite perfect casting for the leading roles, this one just didn't translate well.

The basic plot has Maxwell Smart, super Control analyst pining away to become an Agent like his role model 23. After accidentally running into Agent 99 in the real world, though, he has something new for which to pine—her. When the rogue resurrection of Chaos becomes known, a security breach allows the identity of every Control agent who started getting bumped off all over the world. Mostly out of desperation then, The Chief appoints Max to rank of Agent and partners him with, of course, Agent 99. The two now have a clear assignment, capture the bad guys before they proliferate weapons of mass destruction to half the known world.

…A bad idea that just kept on getting worse…
The plot then follows a path that seems borrowed badly from bits and pieces of James Bond films but with bad 'spoofery' at work. There's an extended scene that reminds one of those included among the deleted scenes on the DVD release that cause you to exclaim, "Um, yeah, those were deleted for a good reason," where Maxwell Smart shoots himself 15 times in various body parts with a mini-harpoon gun concealed in his Swiss Army Knife clenched in his teeth while trying to cut the plastic handcuffs he's been shackled with by Federal Air Marshals who mistake him for a shoe bomber (was this actually a spoof of Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay?). Not only was the first mis-harpooning not very funny, but the 10th time was too much as was the 11th, 12th, and so on. A bad idea that just kept on getting worse, which, unfortunately could be the tag line for the film.

It might be going out on a limb here, and it might disappoint a lot of Steve Carell fans, but someone's got to say it. Part of the failure of this film has got to be attributed to him. Perhaps a big part because, as it turns out, upon careful study and reflection, there's really not a time in the film that he was a believable Maxwell Smart despite the desired physical and vocal resemblance to Don Adams. Actually, he seems to be playing either Michael Scott (from "The Office") playing Maxwell Smart, or worse, maybe he's just playing himself in both roles. Furthermore, while he was outstanding in Little Miss Sunshine, as his body of film work grows, it is increasingly clear that he does struggle with character development and differentiation.

Writers Tom J. Astle and Matt Ember, whose most recent film was the Matthew McConaughey fiasco Failure to Launch, also must share some of the blame. While the show "Get Smart" was a spoof of spy shows, it was clever, funny, and inventive--all three characteristics missing from this film version. Director Peter Segal also must bear a lot of blame for not recognizing somewhere along the way that the story just wasn't very good and that Steve Carell wasn't doing a very good job as Smart. Ironically, the side characters are more compelling.

…it would have been smart to get Smart out of the picture…
Gadget inventors Bruce (Masi Oka) and Lloyd (Nate Torrence) were decently funny. Dwayne Johnson (Why'd he have to change his name back from The Rock? I loved that name!) was hilarious! Alan Arkin was a worthy successor to the role of The Chief. James Caan playing a storybook reading, completely confused, mostly bumbling President was a gem. And then, there's Anne Hathaway as Agent 99 who brings everything to her role that Steve Carell does not. She's a totally believable 99. Sad to say, but it would have been smart to get Smart out of the picture early, and to have focused on 23 and 99 for the rest of the film.

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Related Products from
Other Projects Featuring Get Smart (2008)
Cast Members
Steve CarellAnne HathawayDwayne Johnson
Alan ArkinTerence StampTerry Crews
David KoechnerJames CaanBill Murray
Patrick WarburtonNate Torrence
Peter Segal
Tom J. AstleMatt Ember
CD Soundtrack
Original Series

Review-lite Get Smart (2008) [max of 150 words]
Heavily anticipated by fans of reruns of the original television show featuring the fanboy choice of Steve Carell as Maxwell Smart and the lovely Anne Hathaway as Agent 99, the film version of "Get Smart" simply stated, wasn't that smart. Messed up by the Failure to Launch writers and bad direction by Peter Segal who didn't see a bad spy spoof right in front of his face as well as the undifferentiated performance by Steve Carell, this Get Smart was just plain dumbed down. Despite some likeable performances by the supporting cast especially Dwayen Johnson as Agent 23 and Anne Hathaway, the predictable spoof spy plot and redundant, repetitive gags wore thin after the first ten minutes leaving a lot of film left to disappoint. This predictable movie doesn't end soon enough.

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patrick said...

Get Smart looks pretty good over all though it seems like Steve Carell is veering toward an excess of slapstick humor

John Thomas "Kooz" Kuczmarski said...

I love carrel and this looks like a decent movie.

John Thomas "Kooz" Kuczmarski said...

That's interesting about your insight into the film being "off" from first to last frame. haha. do you think it just got hoaky? Carrel's acting style is unique, but I think he has a tendency to get somewhat typecast at times a tiny bit.