When he finds out that his work superiors host a dinner celebrating the idiocy of their guests, a rising executive questions it when he's invited, just as he befriends a man who would be the perfect guest.
American Maxwell Smart works for a Government spy agency in an administrative capacity. When the agency's head office is attacked, the Chief decides to assign Maxwell as a spy and partners him with sexy Agent 99, much to her chagrin. The duo nevertheless set off to combat their attackers by first parachuting off an airplane and landing in Russian territory - followed closely by an over seven feet tall, 400 pound goon, known simply as Dalip. The duo, handicapped by Maxwell's antics, will eventually have their identities compromised, and may be chalked up as casualties, while back in America their attackers have already planted a bomb that is set-up to explode in a concert. Written by
The new "Get Smart" does a masterful job of capturing the style, tone and humor of the '60s series, while transporting it into a modern sensibility. I had hopes for this film after seeing the two leads doing a 30-second skit on the Academy Awards show and thought they were dead on. So I invested $11.50 and was proved right.
First, this is no cheap knockoff. The production team captured Buck Henry's creation very credibly both in tone and substance. It reminded me very much of the late '80s homage to "Dragnet," which was executed with love and great attention to detail (right down to the product placement of Camel cigarettes and a photo of Jack Webb on the Dan Akroyd's desk). It's no small feat updating something as much a part of its era into a modern sensibility. There were even echoes of the early James Bond films (especially in The Rock's ladykiller character flirting with CONTROL's "Miss Moneypenny" and in some of the musical cues). On the other hand, the production values were all first-rate and contemporary, including a CGI effect of an aerial fly-around and push-in to a 747 that was reminiscent of the key shot in the pilot of Star Trek.
Steve Carrell makes a very reasonable Agent 86; where Don Adams played the character as a bumbling naif, Carrell makes him into a goodhearted wannabe who, despite having the kind of personality that renders him invisible in society, still has intelligence and an earnestness that can make him into hero material when he works at it. He reminded me of Jim Varney's portrayal of Jed Clampett: pure of heart and belief in his fellow man, yet with a bit of chops in dealing with the dark side of society. He fumbles around a lot getting his sea legs after years of being an ineffectual fatso (viz. impetuously slamming a fire extinguisher into the noggin of his boss at one point) but in a pinch, he's quickwitted and moves with decision. (He also quite reasonably feels more secure in briefs than boxer shorts; I don't know what Adam's take on this issue was).
On the other hand, Anne Hathaway nails Agent 99 with a performance absolutely capturing Barbara Feldon's creation, right down to the tone of voice, the raised eyebrows, and at least three different dead-on intonations of "Oh, Max!" Nevertheless, Hathaway moves the character beyond the pre-feminist liberation era and invests 99 with a believable 21st century sexuality and sense of empowerment. She's clearly in charge during the first half of the movie, only slowly yielding to an appreciation of Carrell's growing sense of command (and her own feelings toward him) as we move into Act 3.
Alan Arkin brings an odd turn to the Chief, playing him with a much-less-exasperated fatalism than did Edward Platt. In an interview, Arkin says he saw the character as a very good principal of a very bad middleschool. He comes across as a somewhat old codger closing in on retirement who's comfortably in charge and doesn't try to micromanage, and he has an important role in the climax piloting a Cessna over Disney Hall downtown, but I missed one of the catchlines they didn't include in this revision: namely, the Chief getting one of his headaches. (The other catchline they left out was 86's frequent "That's the second biggest (fill in the blank) I've ever seen.")
Everything else was there, though: We see the Cone of Silence (technologically updated), a very clever CGI revision of the entrance passage to CONTROL HQ, cameos by both Hymie the Robot and Fang, and there's even a passing utilization in this cellphone-obsessed society to the shoe-phone (appropriated from the Smithsonian institution display of the old "defunct" CONTROL). On the other hand, the agency is now under the Homeland Security Department and answers to the Vice President (when they can find him) and uses lots of high-tech, satellite surveillance and GPS gear. Chaos is in cahoots with terrorist organizations around the world and we know they're bad because they drive around in SUVs (the most satisfying and "green" event is seeing one of Satan's Sedans being demolished by a freight train).
Oh, and BTW, it's also a love story.
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