Reel Society

Reviews for the latest movies in theaters and on DVD.

Get Smart

Review by Patrick Hodges

I’m sure that if you were to ask most people who they thought the funniest high-dollar comedic actor in show biz today was, you would probably get a variety of responses.  Will Ferrell, Adam Sandler, and Ben Stiller would probably top the list, and Owen Wilson, Jack Black and Vince Vaughn might get a few mentions as well.  Some of the more nostalgic might even mention Jim Carrey.

And while it’s true that all of the above have achieved enormous success in their chosen field, one might also argue that their success has come by playing basically slightly different versions of the same character over and over again.  And that is fine, but repetition does have a tendency to become tiresome over time, which is why, to me, the funniest actor working today is Steve Carell, and not just because his movies tend to be hysterical, but because he is also the best actor of the bunch.

Carell, more than any of those other guys, has cast his net over a much wider scope of characters than those of his comic brethren.  For proof, you need look no further than his performances in the darkly humorous Little Miss Sunshine or in the touchingly amusing Dan in Real Life.  And, of course, his turns as a supporting character in films like Bruce Almighty and Anchorman have paved the way for him as a leading actor, in films such as The 40-Year-Old Virgin.

In Get Smart, however, he solidifies his standing as a terrifically funny movie comedian for years to come.  Reprising the role of Maxwell Smart, played delightfully on television all those years ago by Don Adams, Carell uses his deadpan delivery and physical humor with razor-sharp efficiency, and I found myself laughing out loud on many an occasion during this film.

Smart, a good-natured analyst who works for the intelligence agency known as “CONTROL”, is unexpectedly promoted to the rank of field agent when foreign operatives infiltrate their headquarters and compromise the identities of all current agents.  Paired with the lovely but reluctant Agent 99 (Anne Hathaway), he jockeys back and forth between moments of brilliance and intelligence to moments of utter ineptitude and clumsiness, the likes of which hasn’t been seen on the big screen since Peter Sellers in the classic Pink Panther films of yesteryear.  And no, I don’t say that lightly.

The rest of the cast is also very good, especially Alan Arkin as “The Chief” and Dwayne (The Rock) Johnson as the resident super-guy Agent 23.  Bill Murray also makes an unfortunately all-too-brief cameo.  But it is Carell who steals the show.  To quote Mel Brooks, “He is absolutely perfect for this role.  To find someone in the Don Adams vein… but he doesn’t do Don Adams.  He just does Steve Carell.”  True.  And he does it brilliantly.

4 ½ / 5 stars

Review by Rebecca Roth

This particular film had the greatest of potential, and unfortunately lived up to none of it. If you are looking for a very plain, cute, family friendly flick, then by all means, go see this one… but sadly, that is all Get Smart delivers.  Of all the films this summer, this was the greatest disappointment for me because of what I had in my mind for this film, after hyping myself into thinking this would be much like the classic Mr. Magoo character cartoons, I was left with the rug pulled out from under my feet.

Maxwell Smart (Steve Carell) is the hapless special agent who is desperate to make the transition from analyst to field agent, and despite his good performance he is actually too good to promote out of his current role. His superiors are finally show the error of their ways when there is a break-in at CONTROL (the good guys) headquarters, a testament to their evident weakness. Maxwell bumps into Agent 99 (Anne Hathaway) who winds up being his partner, and immediately begins a shameful and continuous attempt to hook up with her. Throughout their misadventures, Max attempts to win over Agent 99, and yet miserably fails in entirely un-humorous ways.

Both Steve Carell and Anne Hathaway were solid as actors; however, there was utterly no connection to either character through the entire film. Sure, there were half-hearted attempts to establish a romantic connection between the two stars, but they were repeatedly shot down by Hathaway’s character, and when she finally (and falsely) opened up, I had already ceased to care.

By the time the actual bad guys were introduced, I was already confused and apathetic about the whole story.  After being treated to a shot of Steve Carell in a fat suit, I was looking forward to a character who was helplessly solving crimes, with a smart woman behind him (Inspector Gadget & Penny anyone?), and the flick gave me two clueless and pointless characters I didn’t care a lick about. Not only that, but it didn’t deliver a single laugh through the entire duration of the movie.

2 / 5 stars

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