June 18, 2008, - 1:26 pm

Cool, Funny “Get Smart” – Early Review: Finally a Movie Plays Great Tribute to its TV Original

By Debbie Schlussel
As a longtime fan of “Get Smart,” I was dreading the new movie version. As a kid, I watched after school re-runs of the show in the late ’70s, after my Dad introduced me to the cult comedy classic that was one of his faves. The 1960s Mel Brooks/Buck Henry TV series parodied secret agent movies (like James Bond) during the Cold War and featured a forever screwing-up secret agent, Maxwell Smart, as its lead. I figured this would be yet another cool TV series that Hollywood ruined in a remake.


New “Get Smart” is Great Continuation of Old “Get Smart”

But happily, I was wrong about this latest silver screen incarnation. The movie is a great, updated, hilarious version of the ’60s TV show that plays fine tribute to Agents 86 and 99. In this version, 86 and 99 head to Europe to stop KAOS from its latest doomsday plot involving the development and use of nuclear weapons and its attempt to bomb Los Angeles and kill the President. The movie debuts in theaters on Friday.
I’m no fan of Steve Carell, but here, he does Don Adams proud in the movie, as does Anne Hathaway assuming Barbara Feldon’s role as the smart, sexy, feminine 99–though she’s somewhat more macho, doing karate kicks and other physical stuff. The other old characters are there, too: The Chief (well done by Alan Arkin), Agent Larrabee, Hymie the Robot–they’re all back.
Same for the KAOS v. CONTROL machinations, with KAOS chief, Conrad Siegfried and his top associate Shtarker. Even the old shoephone, the “cone of silence,” and the TV show’s catchy theme song make appearances. Max’s classic lines–“Missed it by that much” and “Would you believe . . .”–are also in there.
And there are some funny cameos–most notably Bill Murray. some conservatives may be offended by President James Caan’s caricature of George W. Bush. But it’s no lie that he can’t correctly pronounce “nuclear.” And there’s something in it for us, too. The best line in the movie is when the head of KAOS, Siegfried, is told by his portly consiglieri, Shtarker, that his plot to bomb Los Angeles would “kill all those movie stars.” Siegfried’s sarcastic response:

Yes, what will we do without their razor sharp political advice?

Another great update: Department of Homeland Security and CIA officials are portrayed as the usual buffoons that they are.
One difference from the old “Get Smart,” is that in this movie, Agent 99 is the experienced agent, and Maxwell Smart is just starting out. She’s sort of “the man” in this relationship–unfortunately an accurate update that reflects too much of today’s matriarchal society. We see Max go from analyst to agent. Hilarious is that he passes the agent test with flying colors, especially the essay on existentialism, which he left blank.
The movie is fun, light, escapist stuff that going to the movies is supposed to be about. Although it’s almost two hours, it goes by fast. Not all of the jokes succeed, but the majority of them do. Even the few groanworthy ones aren’t that groanworthy.
I could have done without Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, as new character, Agent 23. He added nothing to the movie. But the other new additions–including two geeky technology wiz types–added to the update of “Get Smart” from the shoe-phone of the ’60s to the cellphones, computers, lasers, and other gadgets of today.
Overall, it’s a funny and entertaining movie and far better than the terrible silver screen “Get Smart” flicks with Adams and Feldon–1980’s “The Nude Bomb” (minus Feldon) and 1988’s “Get Smart Again!” Carell was born to play this role.
One bit of advice, though: Don’t take young kids. There are a couple of suggestive situations and even a nude butt. Adams’ first “Get Smart” movie–the silly “The Nude Bomb”–featured a bomb that eliminated everyone’s clothes. So, this new movie is, in many ways, tame and far milder in comparison.
Exit question: Do you know agent 99’s real name? In one episode of the TV show, she says it’s “Susan Hilton,” but later implies that it really isn’t. Either way, it’s not revealed in this movie.

10 Responses

Its a very classic show. There are few 60s shows that made it to the silver screen. Curiously enough, “Get Smart” is one of the few shows not being slated for TV revival in our time.

NormanF on June 18, 2008 at 4:17 pm

I loved this show as a kid as well. weekday re-runs, ahhh, to be kid again.
99’s name was never revealed. Even the most devoted fan site don’t have it. that was a trick question huh?

Uncle Tim on June 18, 2008 at 4:54 pm

I saw this last Thursday. Funniest movie I’ve seen in years. Some incredible laugh out loud moments. A must see.

GEB4000 on June 18, 2008 at 5:19 pm

In Feldon’s defense, she wasn’t in “The Nude Bomb”.

mkanderson on June 18, 2008 at 5:56 pm

This is great news Deb.The orig. was also one of my fav’s as a kid & I expected the worst for this movie.
Your review moves it to the top of my “to see” list.

billybob on June 18, 2008 at 7:56 pm

Great news, as Get Smart and Green Acres are my 2 all time fave TV shows. This was back when comedies were really funny and fun.
I might catch it this weekend. Thanks for the Ironman review, I caught it last weekend and loved it and I usually don’t like comic book type movies.
As for The Rock, I’ve met him a couple of times. He really is a very nice guy. Years ago in Nashville we had a wrestling organization called USWA and The Rock, then known as Flex Kavana, was sent here to learn wrestling. Few could have guessed he would get so famous, then. Then, I met him downtown about a year after that just as he was starting to get famous in WWF.

Jeff_W on June 18, 2008 at 9:32 pm

The Rock is a third generation professional wrestler. His mother, father, and grandfather were all in the business. I’ve not seen him act in anything substantial, so I don’t know about his talents. The Mummy was such a bad remake, like so many of the other attempts at remaking the movies and TV series of the past. Father Knows Best and Star Trek are some of the notable exceptions.
I heard Steve Carell do the famous line, “Missed it by that much…” so poorly that I’m surprised that Debbie thinks that he did a good job.
I love Anne Hathaway in the roles I’ve seen her play, so I am looking forward to this one, too.

Loser on June 19, 2008 at 11:35 pm

(Get Smart movie review)
As one of the writers of the original ìGet Smartî TV series, I was sadly disappointed by the new ìGet Smartî movie–I canít understand why remakes donít at least talk to the original material writers. Maybe itís kind of, ìI want to do it myself, mom.î
That said, for the writers of the next remake, hereís a tip: The essence, the fun of the Don Adams character was his child-like confidence and his bravado (not unlike the character often played by Bob Hope) presaging the inevitable catastrophic blunder. ìSorry about that.î Seeing a man slip on a banana peel is funny. Seeing a pompous man slip on a banana peel is infinitely funnier.
Any writer charged with vetting agent 86 should start by studying the origin of the character–Donís early nightclub routines. His defense attorney bit: ìLook at those trim ankles, the well turned calf. Now I ask you. Are those the legs of a homicidal maniac?î
Joseph C. Cavella

Old Writer on June 24, 2008 at 3:12 pm

The James Bond Rock is really one of the best scenary in James Bond Movies. But when I was there to see it two years ago it was really boring. The rock is tinny in comparison to the movie and it was a rainy day.

beste reisezeit ?gypten on May 20, 2010 at 12:09 pm

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