"Missed it by that Much" Amanda Haverstick The News-Dispatch
June 27, 2008
Missed It By That Much
By Amanda Haverstick
2 1/2 stars
Perhaps the key to enjoying some movies is to go in with lowered expectations. This is the case with "Get Smart."
In addition to a host of bad reviews in the last week, "Get Smart" had a handful of production problems going in.
The movie itself was 10 years in the making with something of a script and a revolving door of names tied to the project. By the time Steve Carell signed on to play Maxwell Smart in 2004, there was no longer a script.
The movie certainly isn't garbage and it doesn't desecrate the 1965-70 series, which stared Don Adams and Barbara Feldon in the lead roles. "Get Smart" fans, however, should not expect to see an instant replay of the series.
In this new outing directed by Peter Segal, Maxwell Smart (Carell) starts off as an analyst for spy agency Control with big dreams of becoming a field agent like his colleague Agent 23 (Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson). His boss, the Chief, (Alan Arkin) thinks he's too smart an analyst to play in the field.
When the evil organization of Kaos uproots Control, leaving all its field agents exposed, Max gets to play with the big boys - and a very haughty Agent 99 (Anne Hathaway).
Carell does a commendable job as Max, although the polished looks and confident smirk are where all similarity between he and the character played by Adams ends.
Carell is wise to any blunders that are supposed to be funny - something Adams never was and original "Get Smart" creators Mel Brooks and Buck Henry never intended him to be. Smart's obliviousness was the joke. The movie misses on this point.
While Smart seems a heck of a lot smarter and has some insecurity issues, overall there is really nothing unlikable about the character.
Agent 99, however, comes off as a frosty jerk - the antithesis of Feldon's capable but sweet portrayal.
Viewers used to seeing Max and 99 fight Kaos as loyal pals will grow tired of the bicker fest between the two in the movie.
By the end of the movie, 99 comes out of her snit and hooks up with Max. The problem is it's not believable because her character was never given room to develop.
As for the bad guys over at Kaos, Siegfried (Terence Stamp) leaves a lot to be desired. Kaos baddies used to get more personality. Instead he's a throwaway (literally) villain with his sidekicks (Ken Davitan and The Great Khali) much more amusing.
The script relies on formulaic writing, leaving what was once a groundbreaking comedy a trite yarn.
Get Smart is fun to watch, but will it endure? While it did well in terms of numbers this weekend, is it strong enough to stay out of the $5 DVD bin? Would you believe out of the dollar store?
WEBMASTER'S NOTE: This article originally appeared in The News-Dispatch