Smart and Smarter (Get Smart)
Remaking the ’60s spy spoof
Would you believe they finally got around to making “Get Smart” into a movie? Would you believe they tried it once before?
scarcely anyone remembers The Nude Bomb
(1980), starring Don Adams as Maxwell Smart, the bumbling spy struggling to
make the world safe for democracy.
new big screen Get Smart turns out to
be that rarity in contemporary
The casting for Get Smart is essential; Steve Carell ably fills the shoes of Don Adams (with or without a telephone in the heel of his shoe). Drawing a little from the character he plays in a contemporary TV show, “The Office,” Carell nails Maxwell Smart’s utterly uncool lack of self-awareness, coupled with an unflappable determination to get the job done, a humorless stickler’s adherence to the rules and a dweebish devotion to detail. People like Smart live in the real world and they make tedious dinner companions.
Carell is paired with Anne Hathaway as sexy Agent 99. She rolls her beautiful, dark, ocean-wide eyes at the thought of enduring Smart on their mission to thwart KAOS, but finds that the angels are with him when the going gets tough. And besides, his techno-dweeb proclivities come in handy. She may be able to penetrate the lair of the evildoers with the aid of exploding dental floss, but Smart impresses her with his nifty Swiss army knife—the model that shoots tiny harpoons and turns into a flamethrower.
Dwayne Johnson (aka “The Rock”) competently plays the macho Agent 23, but in the supporting cast it is the veteran actors who really shine. Terence Stamp brings a cool British disdain to KAOS’ dastardly Siegfried and Alan Arkin is wonderful as the Ivy League Chief of Control. In a war room scene derived from Dr. Strangelove, the Chief finally has enough of the grumpy, narrow-gauge perspective of the vice president, who sets the national agenda on behalf of his clueless boss. The meeting at the National Security Council finally comes to blows.
“I’ve been waiting to do this since Nixon!” the Chief shouts as he prepares to leap across the table for the Vice President’s throat.
“I’ve got a new pacemaker. I can take it!” the VP hurls back.Get Smart is mostly manic fun, especially for an audience that grew up with the show, but also for younger generations ready to embrace a deliberately silly spoof of action flicks, spy thrillers and the misadventures of a government at war with the world and itself.