I’m not going to lie, I had absolutely zero expectations for “Get Smart.” While the original television show was funny at times, it wasn’t something I was a huge fan of, or anything I felt was worthy of being made into a feature film. Then again, I think most TV shows expanded into feature films have been bad to awful, so it’s not like I was just coming up with said opinion without more than enough research as an audience member. All that said, I adore “Get Smart” and, at the risk of getting picked on by many of my friends and neighbors, it is, as of right now, my favorite film of the Summer.
“Get Smart” tells the story of Maxwell Smart (Steve Carell) and the super-secret government agency he works for, CONTROL, as they battle the evil forces of KAOS. In the feature film, CONTROL is investigating the movement of some yellow cake uranium when their secret base is attacked, and the majority of their secret agent’s identities are compromised. This forces agent-hopeful Maxwell Smart from his role as a research analyst into the frontlines as the newest agent. Alongside a recently plastic surgeried Agent 99 (Anne Hathaway), Smart ventures into the field to stop KAOS.
Now, that’s the basic plot that the fun is hung on, but the film isn’t too interested in technical details or originality, and what I mean by that is that you pretty much know exactly where the film is going, and all the twists, before they happen. However, the film has so much fun along the way that it really doesn’t matter. If a Zen comedy truly existed, I’d give the mantle to “Get Smart” for being a real “the destination isn’t as important as the journey itself” experience.
The movie is fun, and hilarious, because of its child-like whimsy. Literally. CONTROL, the CIA, KAOS… all these super-intelligent, best-of-the-best agencies all seem to be peopled with middle school’ers, considering the way they all talk and treat each other. It’s this social immaturity coupled with such expertise in, say, killing and/or spying that makes for a fun juxtaposition. I don’t believe that, if it existed, the head of CONTROL could get away with diving across a table to beat the s**t out of the Vice President during a secret meeting of the heads of government, but considering some of the decisions the U.S. government has made in recent years, while I don’t want to think a bunch of children are in control… it sure seems to line up.
Steve Carell wisely does not use his role as an opportunity to ape original Maxwell Smart, Don Adams. Instead, Carell delivers a very intelligent, very capable agent who just is either inexperienced or unlucky. In other words, this isn’t an idiot that just so happens to be a secret agent, this is someone who is very capable of being one but just so happened to be a better research analyst. Had Carell gone the bumbling idiot route, a la a “Tommy Boy” or “Billy Madison,” he may’ve misfired but, as it stands, he does more than expected, delivering a hilarious, and original, portrayal of Smart.
As I said before, the film is predictable in its plot, and not terribly original as far as spy thriller comedies go. At the same time, it’s easily the funniest comedy to come out this year. Take a chance on “Get Smart,” because the worst thing that will happen is that you might be mildly amused, but more likely than not, you’ll have a blast. And isn’t that what Summer entertainment is supposed to be all about?