Friday, June 20, 2008

Secret Agent Man

The beloved 1965-’70 show Get Smart is the latest TV property to make the jump to the silver screen for our summer enjoyment – and the word on it is… it’s good.

And “Phew!” goes Hollywood….

Peter (Anger Management, 50 First Dates) Segal directs Steve Carell as bumbling secret agent Maxwell Smart in Get Smart, an action- and humor-packed movie about phone-shoes, espionage, and being all you that you can be.

I’ve never seen a single episode of the show, so Carell is, to me, Maxwell Smart. He’s an Everyman – one that shouldn’t be dismissed as unremarkable, for he is, in spite of his apparent shortcomings (he’s not especially strong, fit, or agile, and has been stuck behind a desk for many years), quite…well, smart. Carell is a natural fit for this role.

Smart’s not handsome or suave like James Bond, and he can’t handle a gun like Jason Bourne, but he’s a consummate and thorough old-fashion throwback, and that sets him apart. The movie may be a bit too standard, but it pulls all the right moves.

More than anything, he wants to prove himself as a CONTROL field agent.

That’s precisely what Smart gets to do after something bad goes down at CONTROL’s secret headquarters. The Chief (Alan Arkin), having told him he is too valuable an analyst to sent out into the world, reconsiders when Smart is left as the only agent whose identity hasn’t been discovered by the evil forces of KAOS.

Partnered with Agent 99 (Anne Hathaway), whose identity hasn’t been compromised, either, because she recently – oh, that’d be telling – Smart’s mission is to thwart KAOS’ latest plot for world domination.

As he and 99 get closer to unraveling KAOS’ evil master plan, and each other, thy discover KAOS operative Siegfried’s (Terence Stamp) plot to deliver a blow to the United States.

Get Smart is, thankfully, witty and funny and clever enough to play the shades of Sept. 11 in the script for laughs by focusing on Maxwell Smart’s enthusiasm – and by mercilessly mocking the current administration-inspired politicos who just can’t get it together the way he can.

The movie, which co-stars Dwayne Johnson as Agent 23, makes badasses out of Carell, Hathaway, and Arkin.

It’s a rich in quick double entendres, guileless time at the multiplex, and to boot, plays Madonna’s “4 Minutes” over the end credits. Does it get any better than that?

This one’s a winner “by that much.”

My Rating ***1/2

Photo: Warner Bros.

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