Get Smart gets it right |

Get Smart gets it right

Roger EbertUniversal Press SyndicateAspen, CO Colorado
In this image released by Warner Bros. Pictures, Anne Hathaway, left, and Steve Carell are shown in a scene from, "Get Smart." (AP Photo/Warner Bros. Pictures, Tracy Bennett) ** NO SALES **
AP | Warner Bros. Pictures

The closing credits of Get Smart mention Mel Brooks and Buck Henry, creators of the original TV series, as consultants. Their advice must have been: If it works, dont fix it. There have been countless comic spoofs of the genre founded by James Bond, but Get Smart (both on TV and now in a movie) is one of the best. Its funny, exciting, preposterous, great to look at, and made with the same level of technical expertise wed expect from a new Bond movie itself. And all of that is very nice, but nicer still is the perfect pitch of the casting.Steve Carell makes an infectious Maxwell Smart, the bumbling but ambitious and unreasonably self-confident agent for CONTROL, a secret U.S. agency in rivalry with the CIA. His job is to decipher overheard conversations involving agents of KAOS, its Russian counterpart. At this he is excellent: What does it mean that KAOS agents discuss muffins? That they have a high level of anxiety, of course, because muffins are a comfort food. Brilliant, but he misses the significance of the bakery theyre also discussing a cookery for high-level uranium.Smart is amazingly promoted to field agent by The Chief (Alan Arkin, calm and cool) and teamed with the beautiful Agent 99 (Anne Hathaway, who never tries too hard, but dominates the screen effortlessly). They go to Russia, joining with Agent 23 (Dwayne Johnson, once known as The Rock). Their archenemy is waiting for them; hes Siegfried (Terence Stamp), a cool, clipped villain.And thats about it, except for a series of special effects sequences and stunt work that would truly give envy to a James Bond producer. Get Smart is an A-level production, not a cheapo rip-off, and some of the chase sequences are among the most elaborate you can imagine particularly a climactic number involving planes, trains and automobiles. Maxwell Smart, of course, proves indestructible, often because of the intervention of Agent 99; he spends much of the center portion of the film in free-fall without a parachute, and then later is towed behind an airplane.The plot involves a KAOS scheme to nuke the Walt Disney concert hall in Los Angeles, during a concert being attended by the U.S. president. The nuclear device in question is concealed beneath the concert grand on the stage, which raises the question, since youre using the Bomb, does its location make much difference, give or take a few miles?The props in the movie are neat, especially a Swiss Army-style knife that Maxwell never quite masters. The locations, many in Montreal, are awesome; I learned with amazement that Moscow was not one of them, but must have been created on a computer.And the jokes actually have something to do with a developing story line involving Anne Hathaways love life, the reason for her plastic surgery, and a love triangle that is right there staring us in the face. One of the gifts of Steve Carell is to deliver punch lines in the middle of punches, and allow both to seem real enough, at least within the context of the movie. James Bond could do that, too. And in a summer with no new Bond picture, will I be considered a heretic by saying Get Smart will do just about as well?

Get Smart Warner Bros. presents a film directed by Peter Segal. Running time: 110 minutes. Classified PG-13 (for some rude humor, action violence and language). Rated: Three and a half stars.

Glenn WhippLos Angeles Daily News For all its depressing, generic nothingness, the movie version of Get Smart does boast a number of strange-but-true moments, things we have never seen before and, God willing, will never see again.What would a Jason Bourne movie look like if directed by the guy behind Nutty Professor II: The Klumps? Check out Smarts interminable chase scene finale, which hops all over Los Angeles County, or the incomprehensible, quick-cut ballroom face-off between stars Steve Carell and Anne Hathaway for the alarming answers.Smart is a film that assumes you know all the catch phrases and history of a television show that ran 40 years ago, but then dispenses them in a manner thats guaranteed to insult the faithful who bring that very knowledge to the table.Its a movie that spoofs intelligence in the most unintelligent way possible and stretches the boundaries of plot-free filmmaking into frontiers until now explored only by former cast members of Saturday Night Live.Not having watched the TV series since childhood, I cant say whether it holds up and that this movie represents some kind of blown opportunity. But its hard to imagine getting less from this talented group of actors Carell, Hathaway, Terence Stamp and Alan Arkin as The Chief than director Peter Segal does here. Missed it? Yeah, by a mile.