Henry’s Time Capsule: Get Smart (2008)

   “Get Smart” was known as a popular TV show from the 1960’s created by Mel Brooks and Buck Henry that spoofed the spy genre of movies. It ran for five seasons and 138 episodes, while also getting a made for TV movie sequel in 1989, and a short-lived revival series on Fox in 1995.

   Following this, the property was dormant until 2008, when a theatrical reboot based on the show was released on June 20. It starred Steve Carell, who at the time was one of the most popular actors in comedy following his roles in “The Office,” “Little Miss Sunshine” and “The 40-Year-Old Virgin.”

   The film received mixed reviews, and earned $230 million on an $80 million dollar budget. It received a 54% on Rotten Tomatoes and a 54 out of 100 on Metacritic.

   The story is about two rival spy agencies KAOS and CONTROL, KAOS an evil organization looking to take over the world, and CONTROL doing everything to protect the U.S.

   The main character is Maxwell Smart, a talented analyst for the agency that wants to become a field agent like his idol, Agent 23, despite his unorthodox abilities. He initially is denied this position due to his skill as an analyst, but an attack by KAOS leaves every agents’ identity compromised, except Agent 99s.

Screen Shot 2018-06-21 at 4.38.44 PM   Due to this, the Chief has no choice but to make Maxwell an agent and teams him up with 99, who has no patience for his incompetence. They have to work together on a globe-trotting mission to figure out what KAOS is up to and to stop them.

   The plot is pretty basic, but includes several references and easter eggs from the original show, such as the shoephone, cone of silence and the famous cars used throughout the series, such as a 1965 Sunbeam Tiger, Volkswagen Karmann Ghia and 1969 Opel GT.   

   It starred a stellar cast including Carell as Maxwell Smart, Anne Hathaway as Agent 99, Alan Arkin as the Chief of CONTROL, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as Agent 23, Terence Stamp as Siegfried, the head of KAOS and Terry Crews and David Koechner as two agents who are bullies in the office.

   The movie was received moderately well and was a box office hit. Yet after years of rumors and speculation, a sequel never happened, and this film was pretty much forgotten about, and is really a small footnote in the career of everyone involved.

   Yet I still have fond memories of this movie, and after watching it again, I think it still holds up as an above average comedy that pays a fitting tribute to the original show, while bringing its own style and humor to the table. The twist is a little predictable, but a good portion of the jokes land.

Screen Shot 2018-06-21 at 4.39.28 PM   The main draw of this movie is the cast, as they are all great and most have really solid chemistry with each other, especially Carell and Arkin. Crews is a joy in this movie, much like he is in every project he takes part in. There are also a few cameos here that I won’t spoil, but are great additions to the film.

Carell does a really good job of playing Smart, and makes it easy for the audience to relate to and root for him. I haven’t seen the original show, so I don’t know if he’s playing the role of Smart too stupidly (ironic) but there’s still a charm there.

Hathaway doesn’t get a lot of laughs in this one, mainly because she plays the straight man to Carell and most of the juvenile agents of CONTROL. She plays her part well though and gets to beat up some baddies.

Something that surprised me was the appearance of former WWE wrestler The Great Khali (Dalip Singh) playing an assassin hired to kill Smart and 99. He doesn’t have to do a lot of acting, but he plays his role of looking menacing well. As a wrestling fan, it’s still a fun novelty to see him there.

   The pacing is pretty solid, as none of the movie drags and the action is decent for a film more focused on comedy. It’s not reinventing the wheel in any way, but was good for some laughs, even if the bits with Ryan Seacrest are a little dated.

   But if you enjoy Steve Carell or goofy comedy in the style of the original show or a Mel Brooks film, “Get Smart” is worth a watch. It’s a solid 7/10 that will get quite a few laughs out of you.

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Henry Wolski
Executive Editor

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