20 June 2008 | NavyOrion
Just the right balance of comedy and action
Yes, go see this movie. I know sometimes a preview looks pretty good and then the movie stinks (hello, Indiana Jones IV?) but this one does not disappoint.
I remember enjoying the "Get Smart" TV series when I was a kid, and like some other reviewers here, I feared the remake might screw it up (even though watching a couple of 5th-season episodes recently reminded me just how bad the show itself became late in the game.) But this movie version strikes just the right balance of action and comedy, while also balancing fresh ideas with welcome nods to the TV series.
After all, it wouldn't be "Get Smart" without "Would you believe...", "Sorry about that, Chief", or "Missed it by THAT much." It was also great to see such classics as the shoe phone, the Cone of Silence, Hymie the robot, and not one but two of the cars that Don Adams would have driven. But while some remakes mining the past for material have nothing new to say, and get stuck in paying homage to their predecessors, the "Get Smart" movie has a pretty good story of its own.
Now this isn't Robert Ludlum material, and I doubt anyone is real surprised to see who turns out to be a bad guy, but it's a lot of fun along the way, with either a sight gag or surprisingly good action (and often both at the same time) coming down the pike every few minutes. There just aren't really any slow spots. I'm sure a lot of funny stuff got left on the cutting room floor (surely they didn't put Carrell in a fat suit for a mere ten seconds of film) but the pacing felt just right. We can catch all that other stuff when the DVD comes out at Christmas.
Steve Carrel plays Agent 86 almost exactly the way he portrays Dunder-Mifflin's Michael Scott. He comes off as basically well-meaning and earnest, and although a bit bumbling at times, his Maxwell Smart is thankfully not Don Adam's version. Neither was this one of those "Naked Gun" characters who stumbles into success despite his incompetence; Smart has some hilariously bad moments, but is never made out to be simply a lucky fool.
Carrell and Anne Hathaway have surprisingly good chemistry, and Alan Arkin is perfect taking over Edward Platt's role as "the Chief." Former wrestler Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson does a good job as Agent 23, and an even larger wrestler (7-foot 2-inch, 387-pound Dalip Singh from "The Longest Yard") is well-cast as a KAOS underling, although most of the other main bad guys are rather forgettable. Even TV-series KAOS agent Bernie Koppel shows up for a cameo, as does Patrick Warburton (who will be terrific in the inevitable sequel) and Bill Murray (almost unidentifiable hiding in a tree.)
Bottom line: you won't come out of this movie feeling as if you were cheated out of your money. Judging from the laughter in the theater and smiles in the lobby as we left, a lot of folks agreed with me. This is going to make a ton of money, and deserves it. Look for "Get Smart II" in a couple of years, and let's just hope it is as good as this one.
P.S. - It's rated PG-13, but there's very little that's objectionable for even younger viewers (Carrel rips the seat out of his pants.) Take the kids, and have a good time!