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Frat Pack Tribute Movie Review: Get Smart


Review by Kevin Crossman

To say I'm a fan of Hollywood interpretations of classic television series would not be a truthful statement - but then again, I'm not entirely against it. Sometimes, a revisit to a once popular show can revitalize lost spirit: the Brady Bunch Movie, per example, wasn't as much a remake, but more a cheeky look at the absurdities that made the show so loveable. But that's not the angle director Peter Segal took for his update of the classic Mel Brooks/Buck Henry 1960s spy comedy Get Smart: instead, he manages to bring the concept to a new era but still remain true to the show's original concept and feel (something those Charlie's Angels movies tried but miserably failed to do.).

Maybe it's the nostalgic buzz generated by that awesome theme song; maybe it's seeing the famous CONTROL shoe phone (rendered obsolete in the film, but skillfully used at crucial point, paying homage to the classic image), but the fact remains that Segal and co. somehow (and thankfully) managed to re-imagine Get Smart without taking a proverbial leak all over their source material.

Steve Carell stars as Maxwell Smart, a desk jockey who dreams of being a full-time field agent for the super-secret government organization known as CONTROL. He finally gets his shot after his fellow operatives, including the super-smooth Agent 23 (Dwayne "No Longer The Rock" Johnson) are outed by the evil group known only as KAOS. The Chief (Alan Arkin) teams Smart with Agent 99 (played by oober-fox Anne Hathaway) and together they follow the clues to track down KAOS and their mysterious leader, Siegfried (Terrence Stamp).

Quite simply, the casting of Carell as Maxwell Smart is perfect: he takes slight cues and ticks from the character's original portrayer, Don Adams, but tastefully creates his own persona. It's the perfect balance of paying homage to the past and embracing ones comedic sensibilities. The new Maxwell Smart is all Carell, but he's certainly not without its roots - not unlike his turn as Michael Scott on The Office: taking an already established character, but creating an entirely new personality. It sounds a little "too easy" on the surface, but Carell's sublime comedic talents are very much his own.

The rest of the cast shines as well: Arkin, Johnson and Hathaway are all pleasing as members of CONTROL, while Carell and Hathaway make a charming comedic duo. The always reliable David Koechner plays Agent Larabee, a great source of laughs during some effective scenes set in CONTROL's made offices, located deep below the Smithsonian.

While it remains an honest effort, Get Smart purists will likely be offended by the tinkering of the story line: CONTROL is portrayed as more of a dinosaur of an organization rather than an imperative aspect of national security, operating solely to combat KAOS.

This still does not change the fact that Get Smart rose above the constraints of its nature - because lets face it: it could have really sucked. But great casting paired with great performances mixed with great thrills and big laughs make this one of the best movies of the Summer.