Get Smart on DVD

Get Smart on DVD. This spy-comedy featuring Steve Carell and Anne Hathaway in the roles made famous by Don Adams and Barbara Feldon in the 1960s television series is entertaining, but is only half successful in achieving its goal. Surprisingly, the movie does a better job of being an adventure film than being funny. There are plenty of action scenes involving planes, trains, car chases and foot pursuits. The traditional spy activities, such as skydiving and competitive ballroom dancing are also on display. The plot lacks suspense, but moves along quite well, though no one would compare it to the Bourne series. It is not a remake of the television series since is set in the modern day world, where the Cold War has ended. CONTROL, the anti-terrorist group, has been officially dismantled, but continues as a black ops organization battling CHAOS, an evil group intent on destroying the world. However, it is also not a continuation of the series since we find Carell’s character, Maxwell Smart, still working as an analyst and trying to be promoted to a field agent. Circumstances in the film bring Smart and Agent 99 (Hathaway) together on an assignment for the first time.

The film fails to generate many laughs however. Carell does well in recreating Smart, the sometimes bumbling, sometimes brilliant CONTROL Agent 86 and his straight-faced style of comedy is a perfect match for this role. At times though, he is too accomplished with his marksmanship and hand-to-hand combat skills, much more so than Maxwell’s previous incarnation. It is Smart’s ineptitude and reliance on Agent 99’s skills to get out of precarious situations that usually provide the most laughs, but they are not present here. Hathaway’s delivery lacks the necessary subtlety which lets the audience share in the jokes. The only time I laughed out loud was when she kicked an opponent in the head while handcuffed for saying she was not feminine enough.

Fans of the television show will not be disappointed as there are several references, and a few cameos, related to series. Overall, the movie has some moments, but not enough of them. The producers attempted something different by incorporating outtakes and deleted scenes directly into a second version of the entire film on DVD called Comedy Optimization Mode. An interesting concept, but since I lacked the patience and desire to watch the movie a second time, it didn’t work for me. I would have preferred the traditional gag reel, which in other Carell movies has been quite good.

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