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Get Smart (1/10)
by Tony Medley
Run Time 110 minutes.
I wasnít a fan of the TV
series, that ran from 1965-70. Like most Mel Brooks vehicles (except
1974ís ďYoung Frankenstein,Ē the movie, not the play, and the brilliance
of that film was probably due more to Gene Wilder, who wrote and
starred, than to Brooks) it was much too over the top constantly
reaching for jokes that werenít there. I did appreciate the genius of
Don Adams, Barbara Feldon, and Edward Platt in creating the characters
of Maxwell Smart, Agent 99, and The Chief, respectively. It was those
characters that made the series. Adams had a way of speaking and
delivering his lines that made them memorable, even if they werenít, and
thatís genius. Feldon was very sexy and Platt made The Chief
appropriately frustrated with Smartís ego.
Alas, those traits are all
missing in this film that canít decide whether itís a comedy or an
action thriller. The TV series never had that problem; it knew it was a
comedy, pure and simple. This film is replete with special effects and
grotesque ways in which Maxwell injures himself, one particularly
offensive one involving needles. The result is that itís a lousy comedy
and a worse thriller.
Director Peter Segal has
done some good work in the past (2004ís ď50 First DatesĒ), but has
missed more often than heís hit. Jack Nicholson saved him in 2003ís
ďAnger Management.Ē Who couldnít make an entertaining film with Jack as
Steve Carrell plays Maxwell
Smart and he completely misses the genius of what Adams created. Carrell
plays Smart straight up. Gone is the inventive way that Adams delivered
his lines. Not for the first time in her career Anne Hathaway is
completely miscast as Agent 99. She also plays the character straight up
without an iota of humor. Feldon always had a seductive smile on her
face, treating Max with tolerant respect.
Segal and writers Tom J.
Astle and Matt Ember have tried to create a situation in which Max has a
crush on Agent 99. I donít remember that from the TV series. Feldon was
extraordinarily sexy, but I donít remember Max hitting on her, as
Carrell clumsily does throughout this film, another failed attempt at
Alan Arkin is a major
disappointment. Whenever I see him I remember how brilliant he was in
ďThe Russians Are Coming; The Russians Are Coming,Ē director Norman
Jewisonís hilarious 1966 Cold War comedy. Arkin has never risen to that
level again, and he certainly doesnít here. Again, Segal and his writers
have completely changed the character of The Chief, to its detriment.
This film isnít funny and
itís not exciting (despite the puzzling presence of Dwayne Johnson, The
Actor Formerly Known as The Rock, and a
really idiotic climactic chase), so whatís the point?
June 20, 2008