I’m sure most remember the popular television series Get Smart from the mid-’60s, mainly because of Don Adams’ hilariously silly performance as Maxwell Smart. Taking the role here is Steve Carell, who indeed looks like Don Adams, but does he have the flair to be the bumbling CONTROL agent Maxwell Smart?
After CONTROL becomes infiltrated and the identities of their agents revealed, they promote clumsy Maxwell Smart (Carell) to agent level and send him on a mission with a sexy sidekick known as Agent 99 (Anne Hathaway) to reveal the destructive plans of the corrupt organization known as KAOS.
While almost always entertaining and occasionally exciting, Get Smart also manages to be only sporadically funny and sometimes flat thanks to Carell’s performance, which only provides a look-alike quality rather than the distinct personality of the TV show character created by Mel Brooks. A much smarter, less bumbling Maxwell Smart is featured here without the correct “missed it by that much” gesture (in which he used his index finger and thumb to accurately depict how much his missed it by) — a sort of twist in the character that doesn’t work in favor of the film, but slightly against it.
Those who aren’t fond of the sitcom can appreciate this as a stand-alone action comedy and will probably enjoy the film more than those familiar with the series and Don Adams’ standout performance in particular.
Even though Steve Carell fails to deliver most of the funny lines and the accurate kineticism of the original Maxwell Smart character, the supporting cast and exciting action sequences provide enough well-earned laughs and gusto to never be boring.
Anne Hathaway’s looks should distract most from any noticeable faults in her character outline of Agent 99, which she depicted fairly well. However (being the spotlight of the film) Steve Carell was in dire need of more funny lines, for a vast majority of the lines he delivered were flat and just not very funny.
Get Smart works better as an action film rather than a comedy, considering the action marginally overcomes the comedy and is executed better. Full of explosions, gunfire, car chases, and close calls with a small number of jokes wedged in happens to work to a certain degree. Although mildly uneven, when it’s not being funny it has tons of action to keep the entertainment fully intact.
Directed by Peter Segal, who is known for a wide variety of entertaining films such as 50 First Dates, The Longest Yard, and Anger Management, he does here what he does best. He entertains even when the source material doesn’t entirely work. Fast-paced and action-packed, it doesn’t always make you laugh, but it won’t fail to entertain through most of its 110 min running time. It’s just not as funny as it should’ve been. 2.5/5 stars