Get Smart is still in the theaters and is one of the few light, live action, comedies that you can take your kids to this year. Choosing Steve Carell (Anchorman, The Office, 40 Year Old Virgin) to play Maxwell Smart in this tribute / summer comedy blockbuster could have been disastrous.
The original Maxwell Smart was played by stand-up comic and 3 time Emmy award winner Don Adam with flawless timing and a screen persona that has become part of pop culture. Steve Carell is a match for Adams in every way that matters in this big screen edition of Get Smart. Die hard fans of Get Smart will likely not be satisfied with the result but new comers to the Get Smart story will get some laughs
For the long time Get Smart fans the first thing you should know when approaching this movie is that in essence only the character names and some taglines from the original series remain intact. Gone is the bumbling, consistently incompetent and startlingly lucky Maxwell Smart he has been replaced by a polyglot, technogeek who is surprisingly inconsistent fluctuating between extreme competence and ludicrously incompetent. Carell makes this Maxwell Smart work though and is superb in coaxing laughs from the viewer so as long as you don’t mind the change in character you will get you share of laughs.
Agent 99 who was played to steamy perfection by the sympathetic and stunning Barbara Feldon is replaced in the movie version of Get Smart with the moderately talented Anne Hathaway. Agent 99 in this version of Get Smart is about as charming as an angry scorpion which makes her an effective agent but causes a curious problem with the script. The viewer might find it difficult to understand how anyone, even someone as obtuse as Maxwell Smart, could be even vaguely interested in Agent 99 considering the way she treats him. Agent 99 is not without other issues as she believes whole heartedly in the incompetence of Maxwell Smart yet continues to put her life in his hands.
There are some good laughs and set pieces in Get Smart. This is light summer viewing which makes for an ok way to spend a rainy afternoon. The movie relies wholly on the talents of Steve Carell to make it work beyond the transparent script. Note to directors and future writers for Get Smart: Just because you give a character a name from the original series doesn’t make them convincing as that character if there is no storyline to back it up.