“Missed it by THAT much.” Actually, the all-new, updated “Get Smart” doesn’t miss at all. It’s a great ride with lots of laughs and thrills even if it is a bit top-heavy with action scenes. The film pays homage to the spirit and style of its TV predecessor, but with a fresh take, bringing it up to speed for the big screen and a 21st-century audience.
Steve Carell has captured the essence of the bumbling Maxwell Smart, though this Max is not quite as painfully idiotic as the Don Adams version. The new Max has a touch of savoir-faire that fits better with the fast cars and high-tech explosions, but he is really only slightly slicker than the old one. He is still having problems getting his spy gadgets to work, and in one hilarious scene in the washroom on an airliner he shoots several darts into his hands and face before he accidentally hits the wrong button and ejects himself, sans parachute, from the hurtling aircraft.
Max and Agent 99, played this time around by a cooler and sexier Anne Hathaway, are chasing KAOS agents into the deepest recesses of a nuclear facility somewhere in Eastern Europe. They are closely monitored by “The Chief,” smartly played this time around by veteran actor Alan Arkin. Wrestler-turned-actor Dwayne Johnson — who has shed his moniker, “The Rock” — also stars in the movie.
The story line, of course, is incidental to the sight and sound gags that abound in this funny feature.
The bad guys are just as inept as the CONTROL agents. British actor Terrence Stamp plays Siegfried, a charmingly evil but frustrated KAOS arch-villain whose schemes are derailed by his own bumbling field agents. At one point, a group of KAOS agents in a childish display celebrate a team member’s birthday while Max escapes from a locked room. During the course of the escape, Max deals with an unconscious KAOS agent in a suggestive and wickedly funny scene that can’t be described in a family newspaper.
Screenwriters Tom Astle and Matt Ember have even updated quite a lot of the old schtick from the original show. This time, the shoe phone has call forwarding and the cones of silence have morphed from hard, clear plastic into shimmering, visual sound waves, but the new cones don’t work any better than the old ones. “Huh? What?”
Another recurring gag in the series was the lonely undercover agent in various silly disguises. Bill Murray cleverly cameos this part, peering with a hangdog expression from a large hole in a tree.
Some of the language this time around is pretty salty, but it is nothing that Mel Brooks and Buck Henry (creators of the original “Get Smart”) wouldn’t have used 40 years ago if they could have gotten away with it.
Rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Assn. of America for violence, language and raw humor, “Get Smart” runs for one hour and 50 minutes.
JEFF KLEMZAK of La Crescenta likes nothing more than a good movie.