Anthony's Film Review
Get Smart (2008)
This remake of a classic spy sitcom has promise, but ultimately doesn't hold together...
When it comes to classics in film and television, there are some movies and TV shows that are done so well that no one should ever consider remaking them. The 1960s TV spy comedy series Get Smart is such an example. Actor Don Adams played the bumbling secret agent Maxwell Smart so brilliantly that he's practically irreplaceable. But it's not just this actor and character who are legendary. It's the whole show, featuring an equally memorable supporting cast and ingenious comedy injected into each episode of the show. What started out as one of many James Bond-inspired TV shows eventually became a spy show that stood on its own.
Honestly, I was reluctant to see the 2008 remake of Get Smart, but I decided to give it a chance anyway. I believed that it was still possible to do a decent remake of that classic TV show. In fact, the first few minutes of the movie did seem as if this new Get Smart could actually work. Steve Carell may not be anywhere like Don Adams, but his appearance and performance are at least an approximation. There's also a funny tribute to the opening sequence of every Get Smart episode, featuring Carell as Smart walking through a series of doors to a phone booth that takes him down to the headquarters of the spy agency CONTROL. The difference here is that he's walking with a stack of folders and papers, sometimes dropping them along the way.
The other main characters of Get Smart are portrayed here by actors who, like Carell, are approximations of the original actors on the show. Anne Hathaway plays Agent 99, who is beautiful and smart like the original Barbara Feldon, but is also a tough fighter. Alan Arkin plays the Chief of CONTROL who is as no-nonsense as Edward Platt's Chief on the show. There's even the best known villains of the Get Smart show, Siegfried and Shtarker, here played respectively by Terence Stamp and Ken Davitian. But despite these familiar characters, one other character unfortunately doesn't seem to fit: Agent 23, played by Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, who just seems out of place here because he's practically humorless.
For me, the biggest reason that this movie suffers is that Max and 99 do not have good chemistry. In the original TV show, Max and 99 were a team, because Max was determined to win the day even if he was often clumsy and idiotic. Here, in this movie, Max's idiocy is a handicap for him and for 99, who often ends up visibly annoyed by his actions. The bickering between the two characters makes it hard to appreciate them. I believe this is true whether or not you are a fan of the Get Smart TV show.
The other fault of this movie is the humor. The Get Smart movie seems to be written, produced, and directed by people who tend to like crude juvenile jokes. Yes, there are references to the most notable jokes on the Get Smart television show, and I admit laughing a little at some of them. However, it looks like those jokes were thrown into the movie just to please the fans, because they often don't fit nicely with the other jokes in the movie. By the time the movie ended, I thought about how much better this movie could have been if it were written, produced, and directed by people who truly understood what made the Get Smart TV show a real gem.
This remake of Get Smart has the elements necessary for an action comedy film. It has the potential to be at least a good movie to watch. But that opportunity was missed. The movie features the wrong kind of humor, a somewhat flimsy script, and characters that are a bit hard to relate to. I'm not saying this solely from the point of view of a Get Smart fan. I have tried to keep an open mind and have tried to watch it from the perspective of someone not familiar with the show. Even with that, this film doesn't fully work. As Maxwell Smart might say, "Missed it by that much." But in this case, "that much" is not tiny at all. That's how much this Get Smart movie missed it.
For more information about Get Smart, visit the Internet Movie Database.
In addition, check out my review of the original TV series Get Smart.