Review: Get Smart

By Butterboom Writers  /  August 4, 2008

Super-spy spoof remake smartens up Hong Kong on Thursday.


Get Smart (opening in Hong Kong this Thursday) is the new movie remake of the classic TV show we reported about here. And thanks to Warner Bros. we were able to give out some free tickets to the advance screening. So what did we think of all this? In the words of Maxwell Smart himself: “Missed it by, THAT, much!”

First, the good: For those not even remotely aware that this movie is based on a 1960’s TV series and are sold on the spy-comedy elements, then by all means it was a funny, exciting and well-casted Summer flick. Steve Carell plays a CONTROL analyst, that dreams of becoming a field agent, when an attack on Control leaves them agent-less, Max is promoted to 86 status and teams up with the veteran Agent 99 (Anne Hathaway) against the evil of KAOS run by Terrence Stamp and, yes, the fat guy from Borat.

For all the site-gags, and spy-fun, it holds its own as a tribute to the TV show and making it its own. Great turns by The Rock and of course Carell’s co-star in Little Miss Sunshine, Alan Arkin who plays the Edward Platt role of The Chief, as perfect as the comedy stylings of the “cone of silence” itself.

But its a typical run of the mill comedy, which isn’t really a negative. The filmmakers pepper in all the TV show gags when they can, but wait too long to introduce the best one, especially to Hong Kong viewers: the shoe mobile phone. The plot, if you really need one, was weak but then again we’re not really going to nitpick that. If you are expecting an Austin Powers type parody of the spy movie genre, go rent Mike Meyer’s opus magnum. If you are looking for something funny to see on a date, this is it, the crowd at the advance screening cinema just loved every single bumbling goof that Carell brought to the screen. And a few of them had us laughing like crazy. Especially the sequence with Carell and the fat guy from Borat (yes I know he has a name, but everyone knows him when we saw The Fat Guy from Borat), you’ll get what we mean – pure site gag, but cheeky nonetheless, and the cherry on top is the guards reaction.

Now, for a bit of a rant, as a long time film goer, I appreciate the needs to “refresh” old concepts to appeal to new audiences – but these kind of refreshes seem to work less than they succeed. Offhand, I can only say that for every Charlie’s Angels movie (well, the first one at least) that kept the core concept and then took it into a new form of action/comedy movie as working well – there are tons of Starksy & Hutch, Dukes of Hazzard, Bewitched, etc. al.

This film version of Get Smart is so different from the original TV show we question why they bothered calling it Get Smart. When we first meet Maxwell Smart in the TV series he is an accomplished if bungling spy. Agent 99 is more his Girl Friday than his equal (or in this movie, his superior) and the Chief can’t stand him and really doesn’t cut him much slack. OK, so maybe those are standards for the 60’s and it really is impossible to get Don Adams’ great voice and performance as Agent 86 out of our head, especially when the classic catchphrases are uttered like “Would you believe..,” “Missed it, by THAT much..,” and our personal fave “And loving it..!” – half the time I was expect Carell to utter the line “…That’s what she said!”

Well, I hate to dwell on the past, but if 90% of the audience doesn’t even recall the TV series what’s the point of doing this if its in fact a marketing ploy.

One thing I do like is that Warner Bros. Hong Kong is obviously very happy with the film and has aggressively marketed the film in Hong Kong as evidenced by the tons of bus shelter’s, MTR ads and TV spots – so go in looking for a fun, light flick and don’t dwell on Don Adams too much and you’ll have a great if forgettable time.

One of our contest readers, Adrian, sent us this email the next day as well:

The latest in a line of similarly-themed spy spoof films, Get Smart does recycle many of its jokes but its skillful and likable cast somehow manage to make it all seem fresh again. Carell is naturally the star of the film and does what he does best as the bumbling idiot, proving even to be a somewhat-competent action star in the film’s numerous and surprisingly well-executed action sequences. All in all, Get Smart is a brisk, fun 110 minutes that both fans of the original series and people just looking for a laugh will enjoy.

Learn more about Get Smart at these websites:

The Get Smart Wikipedia entry


Leave a Reply