GET SMART ***
STEVE CARELL is adorable.
He’s incredibly cute, endearingly sweet and amusing. The self deprecating stance (as long as it’s not too broad) can work well for some. It definitely does for him.
He also has a quality that’s exceedingly rare in the acting field. STEVE possesses a genuine warmth and decency as a person and is able to project that easily in performance mode. He is someone that you automatically root for and immediately sympathize with in terms of a character.
At this moment in time, he is the only significant male presence in film that has that going for him. JULIA ROBERTS and JENNIFER ANISTON are two women that display those traits in abundance.
The plot of this film, such as it is, is hardly important if you’ve seen the classic TV series of the same name in reruns.
STEVE CARELL is MAXWELL SMART, an analyst that works for the counterintelligence agency CONTROL. (Similar to the CIA.)
The evil organization KAOS is killing CONTROL agents at a steady pace. So Max is promoted to a whole new level and becomes Agent 86. SIEGFRIED (he’s so unbearably wicked that he only has one name – played by the supremely elegant TERENCE STAMP) is the head of that dastardly group of shadowy figures. He won’t rest until he has control of KAOS…uh, control of CONTROL – I mean, the entire world.
KAOS…*ahem* Chaos predictably ensues.
As a season, the summer can be full of surprises in many respects. Certainly movies are one portion of that. This is one of them. But it’s decidedly good rather than a letdown.
Director PETER SEGAL has a genuine talent for action set pieces and uproarious comedy. Writers TOM J. ASTLE and MATT EMBER definitely excel at snappy dialogue and the construction of fresh situations.
STEVE CARELL is excellent. He puts his own particular spin on Max and he succeeds admirably. It was an absolute joy to see him and ALAN ARKIN together again.
Mr. Arkin’s Chief is a kindly but no nonsense mentor that has real affection for Max. He also has two hysterical scenes where he punches two different characters’ lights out. They had it coming…and the Chief does deliver on his promises.
ANNE HATHAWAY was fine in her one big scene at the end of BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN. Other than that, her work has been far from substantial.
But Anne gives a strong performance here. She clearly has a gift for comedy that had not surfaced in anything previous. (Certainly NOT in The Devil Wears Prada).
Anne has great chemistry with Steve and is the perfect foil for him. She matches wits, makes things happen and cleans up messes with wit and grace. Ms. Hathaway is also disarmingly lovely and sexy as hell. Plus, in the scenes where she has the wig, she’s a dead ringer for BARBARA FELDON – who played Agent 99 on the TV series.
Surprisingly, Anne was absolutely perfect. Her sleek, glamorous wardrobe was also rather cool.
TERENCE STAMP is the quintessentially nasty, overbearing visionary who is determined to run the universe to his own specifications. He’s wonderfully arrogant.
There is also some very fine work from some terrific actors in cameos: JAMES CAAN (as the President), BILL MURRAY (as Agent 13) and BERNIE KOPELL (who appeared on the TV series).
The entire cast exceeds expectations with the exception of Dwayne Johnson (aka The Rock), who plays Agent 23. He’s a good looking man with an engaging presence, but he’s not a believable actor. There were times when it appeared that he was reading lines off his costars’ foreheads.
But it was completely hilarious when he kidnapped Anne (who turned out to be his ex girlfriend). He accused her of being an undesirable romantic partner because she was too unfeminine and she kicked him in the head.
Nice shot, Agent 99…
Just in case you’re curious, there is a scene with a telephone booth and you do hear the familiar theme at some points. There is also a shoe phone.
GET SMART, for what it is (not to mention what it could have been), is much better than it had to be and is far superior to a lot of summer comedies. It is genuinely entertaining and very funny.
Ryan Seacrest is America’s sweetheart? Um, yeah…