Get Smart - 2008

Get Smart - Released June 20, 2008. Directed by Peter Segal

Ace intelligence analyst Maxwell Smart (Steve Carell) is desk bound at the Washington DC spy agency CONTROL. Smart dreams of being a field agent, and is suddenly thrust into that capacity when a raid on CONTROL's secret headquarters compromises the identities of nearly all of the other agents. He is sent to Russia with Agent 99 (Anne Hathaway) to discover what the competing spy agency/terror group KAOS is trying to achieve, and Smart eventually uncovers a plot to kill the American President (James Caan). Meanwhile, the freshman agent has been framed as a double-agent and now has everyone after him, particularly Agent 23 (Dwayne Johnson) who turns out to be Agent 99's old boyfriend.

Director Segal and writers Tom Astle and Matt Ember revive the 1960s TV program Get Smart with a broader background story for the characters and with a lot of first-rate stunt work, action sequences and beautiful photography throughout. They've created a modern world of espionage for the characters to battle, with infrequent nostalgic in-jokes referencing the old Buck Henry/Mel Brooks TV show that featured Don Adams and Barbara Feldman.

Carell doesn't do a pastiche, nor does Hathaway, and that helps a great deal toward lifting the movie above its uneven commitment to either goofy humor and sketchy-riffing versus the rigid plot of a James Bond movie, both being directions that come close to eclipsing each other at times as the tale rolls along. Easily the best part of the movie is the back-and-forth between Carell and Hathaway as they go through the paces of a spy-couple friendship that grows as the mission to Russia unfolds.

Alan Arkin as The Chief embodies the gravitas of Edward Platt and the line delivery, too: "At Control we don't staple peoples foreheads. That's CIA crap!"

AMAZON: Get Smart 2008

Original Page March 2017 | Updated April 2018

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Letters from Hollywood: Inside the Private World of Classic American Movemaking

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