<div style="float:left">
<script type="text/javascript"><!--
google_ad_client = "pub-9764823118029583";
/* 125x125, created 12/10/07 */
google_ad_slot = "8167036710";
google_ad_width = 125;
google_ad_height = 125;
<script type="text/javascript"
</script></div>{/googleAds}The original TV series, Get Smart aired from 1965-1970 in a Cold War America obsessed with spies, James Bond and anything that countered the threat from the U.S.S.R. Some of the show's biggest attractions were the spy gadgetry deployed by the bumbling titular character, Maxwell Smart and the irreverent humor that satirized not only spy films and TV series of the time, but also the touchy political situation in which our country was embroiled.

With the threat of the Cold War over and an iPod-equipped citizenry no longer impressed with phones embedded within the cut out heel of shoe, Get Smart's filmmakers were left with the challenge of updating the story to resonate with today's gadget-loaded filmgoers. And this is where the whole shebang goes wrong. Director Peter Segal (The Longest Yard, 50 First Dates) and writers Tom J. Astle and Matt Ember added a strong action element to the proceedings. Now there's nothing wrong with a good action flick, but here it just goes way over the top. Initially, we're cruising along with a downright funny homage to all the things that made the original work, and then suddenly, we're covered up with enough explosions, car chases, and stunt work to make a Rambo fan envious. Perhaps if the action sequences were more skillfully woven into the proceedings, we'd get less of a sense that they're included solely as a means of satisfying the summer blockbuster crowd.

Get SmartThat's not to say that all the good stuff from the original show is missing however. Whereas the original gained its following by spoofing the plentiful spy movies of the era of course Don Adams's Smart was a send up to Fleming's James Bond character - today's version grabs its material from the TV show. Many of the gags and gadgets make a return, including an updated but equally inoperable cone of silence and the aforementioned shoe phone. Even a few of the cars from the series, including the blue Karmann Ghia, make cameo appearances courtesy of a generous Hollywood memorabilia mogul.

With Steve Carell as Maxwell Smart, Anne Hathaway as his CONTROL colleague Agent 99, and a resurging Alan Arkin as The Chief, Get Smart is never lacking in the talent department. And even though the love interest between Smart and 99 sapped a bit of the momentum, Carell and Hathaway play quite nicely off of each other with Hathaway holding her own in the stunt and action sequences... even in high heels. One scene involving Smart's tango with a rather portly dance partner draws uproarious laughter and nearly makes the entire movie.

Carell smartly avoids the temptation to just do an impression of Adams's version of Maxwell Smart. He's as equally inept here, but really more nerdy and unfortunate than boneheaded. Likeability was certainly Smart's appeal back in the day, and Carell carries that over to this modern version. In much the same way that Barney Fife was the amiable force that drove The Andy Griffith Show, Maxwell Smart is the heart and soul of Get Smart.

A well-worn spy thriller plot that sees Smart and 99 tracking down a missing supply of nuclear material is barely enough to hold the proceedings together. But the decision to treat the film as somewhat of an origin piece is indeed refreshing. When we first meet Carell, he's a CONTROL analyst trying to pass the field test with hopes of becoming a full-fledged agent. But he's so good at his analyst job, The Chief doesn't want to promote him. That is until Siegfried's (Terence Stamp) gaggle of KAOS baddies break into the spy headquarters and steal the identities of CONTROL field agents across the globe. With no real field experience and armed with nothing but a few spy-tech gadgets and a tenacious spirit, Smart and Agent 99 (another whose identity wasn't compromised) must foil the KAOS plan with hopes of saving the day.

Get Smart almost works. There are many truly laugh-out-loud moments that come when Carell and Hathaway are on the screen together. Their straight man (err, woman) funny man timing is perfect and almost rivals that of Adams and Barbara Feldman who played the original 99. But increasing the TNT budget to accommodate the dumbed-down summer movie crowd derails the whole thing.

Component Grades
2 stars
4 stars
DVD Experience
3 Stars


DVD Details:

The two-disc DVD release of Get Smart contains one of the best features that can be included on a DVD release, and is in fact what the DVD format was supposed to be about in the first place - the ability to access in-line play options. Specifically with this disc, the option to play the movie straight through or in "Comedy Optimization Mode" with Get Smart Takes that provides more than 20 minutes of alternative jokes. While watching the movie in this mode, an icon appears on the screen indicating that alternate versions of that scene are available by pressing the "enter" key on the remote. Guaranteed to increase the funny qotient by 62%!

But surprisingly missing is a feature-length commentary track, the absence of which keeps this solid DVD release from becoming a perfect DVD release. Plus, if only the movie were treated with the same kid gloves as the DVD.

Screen Formats: 1.85:1

Subtitles: English SDH; French; Spanish; Portuguese

Language and Sound: English: Dolby Digital 5.1; French-Canadian: Dolby Digital 5.1; Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1; Portuguese: Dolby Digital 5.1

Other Features: Color; interactive menus; scene access; comedy optimization mode; alternative jokes.

* Featurettes
o Smart Takes Alternate Scenes (20:21) watch loads of hilarious alternate versions of jokes.
o The Right Agent For The Right Job (10:49)
o Max In Moscow! (6:32)
o Language Lessons (3:28)
* Deleted Scenes -
o Spy Confidential: Gag Reel (5:45)
* Previews
o Get Smart's Bruce & Lloyd Out Of Control (Sneak Peak) (3:21)
* Digital Copy

Number of Discs: 2 with Keepcase Packaging and lenticular slipcase.