Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXII, No. 26
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
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For more movie summaries, see Kam’s Kapsules.

99, WE’RE IN THIS UP TO OUR NECKS THIS TIME!: Agent 86, Maxwell Smart (Steve Carrell, right) is stating the obvious to his partner Agent 99 (Anne Hathaway) when they once again find themselves in another impossible situation from which they will bumble their way to an escape by, as always, turning lemons into lemonade.

Get Smart: “Sorry About That” But Steve Carrell Is No Don Adams

Kam Williams

Get Smart, which enjoyed a five-year run on TV from 1965 to 1970, was a sidesplitting spoof of the James Bond character and the rest of the international espionage genre. Created by Mel Brooks and Buck Henry, the program starred the late Don Adams in the title role as Maxwell Smart, aka Agent 86, and Barbara Feldon as his sultry sidekick, Agent 99. As spies for CONTROL, a CIA style government agency, their weekly mission was to protect the Free World from their evil Cold War counterparts working for KAOS.

Steve Carrell has been tapped to play Maxwell Smart in the screen adaptation, a two-hour waste of time that has fewer laughs than any one of the half-hour episodes of the original television show. Director Peter Segal has decided to overhaul a hilarious over-the-top parody, that never was intended to be taken seriously, into a dramatic adventure with intermittent comic relief.

Agent Smart still employs stock catchphrases such as “Missed it by that much” and “Would you believe…?,” and he also has some of the old gadgetry at his disposal such as the confounding Cone of Silence. In addition, many beloved characters have also been brought back, including The Chief (Alan Arkin), Agent Larabee (David Koechner), stowaway specialist Agent 13 (Bill Murray), Hymie the Robot (Patrick Warburton), and KAOS villains Siegfried (Terrence Stamp) and Shtarker (Ken Davitian). Notable cast additions include The Rock as Agent 23, Terry Crews as Agent 91, and James Caan as the President of the United States,

However, because this version emphasizes action and special effects rather than humor, the jokes are few and far between. Another irritation is the profanity and off color content which will undoubtedly seem inappropriate to anyone familiar with the original television series. But the film’s biggest failing is that Steve Carrell doesn’t even try to deliver his lines with the same pithy pizzazz which made Adams’ embodiment of the character so memorable.

The nostalgia factor aside, perhaps the picture’s most offensive scene involves a reenactment of Catherine Zeta Jones’ memorable moment in Entrapment (1999). In Get Smart, we see Agent 99 (Anne Hathaway) in a form fitting dress undulating sensuously through a room full of laser beams, trying to avoid setting off the alarm. Is the passage of nine years enough time to plagiarize a famous scene and think no one would notice? How unoriginal!

This reincarnation of Get Smart neither does justice to the TV show nor to any of the cinema classics from which it borrows ideas, such as True Lies, The Spy Who Loved Me, Moonraker, and Dr. Strangelove.

Fair (1 star). Rated PG-13 for violence, profanity, and crude humor. In English and Russian with subtitles. Running time: 110 minutes. Studio: Warner Brothers.

For more movie summaries, see Kam’s Kapsules.

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