Friday, April 2, 2010

"Get Smart" (2008)

"Get Smart" (2008) Starring Steve Carrell, Anne Hathaway, Dwayne Johnson and Alan Arkin
Written by Tom Astle and Matt Ember
Directed by Peter Segal

If there's one man out there today who could possibly fill the phone-shoes of Don Adams, it's Steve Carrell.  And he does so quite well in this 2008 update to the classic 1960s spy comedy.

Carrell stars as Maxwell Smart, an analyst for a top-secret government agency called CONTROL, which protects the world from the evil syndicate known as KAOS.  Smart spends his days as an intelligence analyst, but dreams of becoming a field agent like his hero, Agent 23 (Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson).  Even though he passes his test, the Chief (Alan Arkin) tells him he's too good of an analyst to promote.  But when a double agent attacks CONTROL from within, and KAOS gains control of a number of nuclear weapons, Chief has no choice but to put Max in the field after all the other agents are compromised.

The only other agent safe enough to partner with Max, now labeled Agent 86, is the lovely Agent 99 (Anne Hathaway) who recently underwent plastic surgery to give herself a new identity.  The two of them must go to Russia to track down their only lead - a KAOS bomb maker who will be throwing a swanky party at his mansion.  Max and 99 must work their way through assassins and double agents to stop a plot to kill the President of the United States by setting off a nuke in Los Angeles.

"Get Smart" won't win any awards.  It's solidly funny, but not riotously so.  Carrell and Hathaway work well together, and Arkin gets some great moments as well.  Johnson once again proves that he's got excellent comedic skills.  Why this man keeps getting wasted in things like "The Tooth Fairy" is totally beyond me.  But everything here is pretty entertaining, so I'd totally watch a sequel if it came around.

The action sequences are competent, if nothing special.  If you're watching "Get Smart" for the action,  you'd be better off looking elsewhere, though I don't think you'll hate it.  Hathaway and Carrell handle fight sequences and chases pretty well, in addition to the goofy comedy.   Plenty of updates of old TV shows don't fare as well as "Get Smart" does, thanks to a solid script and direction.  It could easily have gone another way, but this is one of those remakes that works.