The summer movie season started with a big throwback trip with Indiana Jones’ latest romp through ancient caves and jungles, but director Peter Segal is taking things back even further with “Get Smart,” an adaptation of the 1960s television program that spoofed Cold War espionage.
The nostalgia stops on the surface level, though, as the film focuses more on over-intentional comedy and big-time action and also suffers from a lack of connection between stars Steve Carell and Anne Hathaway.
A perfectly-cast Steve Carell is the bumbling Maxwell Smart, an analyst for CONTROL. CONTROL is a secret government agency believed by most to have been disbanded at the end of the Cold War. Little to the public’s knowledge, CONTROL is still battling Russian-operated KAOS. Smart spends his days behind a desk, but after years of struggling with the field agent test, he finally passes and is named Agent 86 after a KAOS attack on CONTROL’s headquarters.
Matched with Hathaway’s Agent 99, whose beauty does not detract from her ability to kick butt, the film follows the antics of Smart and puts the story on the backburner after blatantly telling the audience what needs to be done.
As mentioned, too many of the jokes are far too obvious. It is the type of comedy seen in plenty of other movies and does not fare too much better here. There are a few here and there that are genuinely funny, and a few that have a funnier follow-up, but for the most part they may barely spark a giggle, or perhaps even a chortle or two.
For fans of the original television series, there are a decent amount of references to the show and a definite amount of respect.
At the beginning of the film, Smart basks in the light of the shoe-phone and replica of a classic Don Adams (the original Smart) suit. And of course, the necessary telephone booth to enter CONTROL’s headquarters.
Unfortunately, with so much riding on it, the chemistry between Carell and Hathaway is rarely ever seen. There are a few scenes where the audience will be able to see they tapped into something good, but aside from those select times, there isn’t really anything there.
Carell, on the other hand, was a good choice to portray Maxwell Smart. The awkwardness he can create really helps the character, even if he is not quite the Smart Don Adams showed off to audiences.
And while it was nice to see Segal and company try to stick to the original formula of the show with Communist threats, in today’s world, it seems a bit outdated. It isn’t completely ridiculous, but it just doesn’t feel quite right.
So if you are looking for a goofy movie to check out that isn’t a horrible movie called “You Don’t Mess with the Zohan” or “The Love Guru,” this is worth seeing. You may want try to catch it at a matinee price, though.