I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve been anxious to see this for a while now. The original show is a favorite of my parents, and I’ve grown to like its little quirks and comedic elements. As with many TV shows to movie adaptations, however, I was a bit skeptical about the movie remake of this classic TV series, and hoped it wouldn’t get butchered too terribly. Well, thankfully that’s nowhere near the case. It’s not going to be a classic, and it probably won’t get a ton of awards, but the 2008 release of Get Smart is a good movie to kick back, relax, and have a good laugh at.
(note: I don’t have any pictures from the movie, so I googled some. If you want more screenshots, I’m sure you know how to google for them)
A Bit of History about Get Smart
The original television series is the brainchild of Mel Brooks, the man who brought us such comedic classics(?) such as Robin Hood: Men in Tights, A History of the World: Part 1, and Blazing Saddles. He’s rather well known for his comedies, which have historically done while in spite of their silly nature. Somehow, Mel Brooks manages to hit a certain niche crowd, and hit them very effectively. His jokes, mostly slapstick, come from every angle and the viewer is guaranteed a laugh in at least one Mel Brooks film. Today, Mel has the distinction of being one of few men to earn a Grammay, an Academy Award, a Tony, and an Emmy for his works (the “GATE” achievement, as it’s called).
Get Smart began its run in 1965, following the escapades of Maxwell Smart, aka Agent 86. Not quite as suave as 007, Max uses his wits every so often to get out of situations, but more often than not stumbles around as he tries to do his mission correctly. Along the way, he’s helped by Agent 99, who is a far more experienced agent than he is (and there is that little romantic connection, I suppose). Together, they try to overthrow KAOS, the prescribed “evil organization” of the world. The gadgets are weird and quirky, and the people are often quirkier. However, the main pull of the show was the great combination of comedy and action elements, and there are many today who still remember the original series very well.
The 2008 Version
So what did we get here? In 2008, Get Smart gets a new look, and starts off on the right foot with its casting. Steve Carell, incredibly popular as of late, is cast as Maxwell Smart, the confident but sometimes clueless agent. Anne Hathaway is given the role of Agent 99, and we see appearances by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, and even Hiro, I mean, Masi Oka (that was amusing in itself…). A strong cast makes a solid foundation for a movie, and this one certainly didn’t disappoint.
We see the very beginnings of Get Smart in this movie, with Maxwell an analyst turned agent after a horrific attack on CONTROL by KAOS (catchy, no?). Since he is a relative newbie, Max is teamed with Agent 99, who isn’t too thrilled by her new partner but eventually takes a liking to him. A very…strong…liking. Agent 23 (Johnson) also makes appearances throughout the movie, but in a much different light. Without spoiling too much of it, I will say that this is an espionage movie, with double agents and the inability to trust even the closest of friends.
But that makes this movie too serious that it really is. To me, Get Smart is the clean and comedic version of 007. We’re not talking James “I can get any girl I want in bed with me” Bond, or Austin “GROOVY BABY YEAH” Powers; no, James Bond has a level of sophistication and an air of the erotic at times, and Austin Powers is just…base comedy to me. Get Smart is like the bastard child of these two movies, with enough techno-flair and action to make it a good action flick, combined with an appropriate amount of clean comedy. There’s no ending scene with Max getting it on, or are there many sexual jokes. The movie combines action and comedy so cleanly that they’re almost integrated to one another. Nothing seems forced, and that’s a rarity in many of today’s movies.
Overall, there isn’t much to say about the movie. It relies heavily on Carell’s ability to make light of a situation, and to portray the “innocent guy” effectively; when he does well, the movie does well. It’s certainly lighthearted, even in spite of its espionage theme. Hathaway makes a very good foil for Carell, carrying an air of elegance, but still able to get down and dirty when the times require for it. The only time I really cringed was when Carell yelled out “I think I broke my coccyx!” That sounded incredibly out of place…and kind of stunned me for a while. Overall, however, I was happy with what the movie delivered.
The final thing that made me so happy about this movie, however, was the great mix in the audience. To my left was a group of senior citizens who fondly remembered the TV series and came out to see this version, and left quite happy. In front, a group of high schoolers, and I myself am a college graduate. This isn’t a movie that is targeted to a specific audience. No, it manages to take in anybody and everybody, and immerse them in an entertaining experience. There are always going to be critics who say the humor was basic, the action scenes iffy, and other things here and there. However, from my standpoint, this movie is a success, and I’d recommend it to anybody looking for a good movie to watch right now.
This must be one of the best summers I remember in a while. This, Kung Fu Panda (surprisingly good), Wall-E, Iron Man, The Dark Knight…it’s a good time to be Hollywood.
Totally Subjective Score: 4.5 / 5 stars
People who should watch this movie:
- Overconfident espionage nuts
- People who LOVE their swiss army knives
- Fans who realize spies and assassins are humans too!
People who should NOT watch this movie:
- Those looking for that ‘mature’ touch to a movie (not gonna find it here, buddy)
- Those who can’t appreciate kiddy-esque, lighthearted jokes and puns
- Little middle school punks who throw popcorn across the aisle at their friends in the theater