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Film Review: Get Smart

Mark Tregoweth
Mark Tregoweth

There’s more chaos than control as ‘60s sitcom Get Smart blunders its way to the big screen as a forgettable film.
The balance between good and evil, inept spies and overzealous agents has entertained television viewers for more than 40 years thanks to the original TV series rare breed of humour and quirky characters.

Created by Buck Henry and Mel Brooks, the show premiered in 1965 and ran for five seasons as it followed the misadventures of bumbling Control agent Maxwell Smart (Don Adams), his beautiful sidekick 99 (Barbara Feldon) and the dark forces of KAOS.

Hailed by many as one of the finest satires on television, Get Smart should have signalled box office gold when it was remade for the big screen but tragically a new cast, contrived plot and a contemporary setting remove the magic that existed in the original.

The film opens with Maxwell Smart (Steve Carell) as an over eager analyst keen to  become an agent. Due to his success in his current role the Chief (Alan Arkin) is reluctant to promote him. This changes when the headquarters of Control are attacked and the identities of its agents compromised.

Suddenly elevated to agent Smart is partnered with sexy Agent 99 (Anne Hathaway) for his first assignment.  
Armed with gadgets and an endless supply of enthusiasm they head out to uncover the doomsday plans of KAOS master mind Siegfried (Terence Stamp).

As they journey across the globe the agent’s battle villains, dodge bullets and complete death defying deeds in order to catch KAOS.

While the name of the film may be Get Smart in reality it should’ve been ‘Got Lost’ because everything that made the TV series a hit is lost in its translation to the big screen.

On the surface Steve Carrell looks the part but struggles to make the role of Maxwell Smart his own. Whether it’s the shortage of witty one-liners, slap stick set ups or the pressure of living up to his predecessor, Don Adams his performance is far from smart.

Veteran actor Alan Arkin continues this trend with his take on the Chief, while Terence Stamp ditches the German accent and over the top antics of KAOS master mind Siegfried for a deadpan delivery of this signature character.

The one highlight in the mismatched cast is Anne Hathaway as 99. Every bit as cool and seductive as Smart’s sitcom sidekick, Hathaway is the films only saving grace.

Following in the wake of other ‘60s sitcoms which failed to make the transition from television to the big screen (The Beverly Hillbillies, My Favourite Martian, McHale’s Navy and Bewitched), Get Smart is living proof that it takes more than a big budget, star studded cast and special effects to remake a classic TV show.

1 hour 50 minutes
Rating **

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