Review: Get Smart
By Sean Collier
July 4, 2008

He had wanted to wear the cute coat.

Expectations are a funny thing when walking into a movie. Low expectations can make a so-so flick seem above average (see The Strangers), while high expectations can make a serviceable film seem crappy (Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is a good example). We like to think we give everything a fair chance; however, try as we might, we seem to always walk into a film with some solid guess as to how much we'll enjoy it.

So when a film meets expectations just about perfectly, there's a bit of a boost – hey, I figured that one out right! I got exactly what I paid for! Nice! Between marketing, reviews, and our own prejudices, this is a fairly rare experience. Get Smart, however, seems determined to deliver what you'd want – no more, no less.

Decades after the cold war ended, covert US spy organization Control is in the history books as a defunct entity, buried since the fall of the Soviet Union. We swiftly learn that Control is very much operational, and has a bunch of shiny new hi-tech toys to play with. Agents fight vague, non-ethnic threats and search for sinister plots of unsure origin and point. Swiftly, however, shadowy Russian mayhem makers KAOS prove to also be alive and well, and Control is targeted. When most of their agents are killed, some less-than-stellar replacements have to be found, such as the accident-prone Agent 86.

Steve Carell, as 86, delivers just the performance you're looking for – sort of a more sophisticated and competent Michael Scott. His timing is great, he is capable but not perfect in action sequences, he conveys the right amount of charm and romance when necessary. Just as you'd expect.

Carell's co-stars, too, turn in fine performances. Anne Hathaway flashes attitude while remaining endearing; Dwayne Johnson is...well, basically The Rock in a suit; Alan Arkin works just fine as the spitfire veteran. A Bill Murray cameo is downright hilarious, and Terence Stamp, Ken Davitian, and Dalip "The Great Khali" Singh are just imposing enough to still remain slightly lovable as the bad guys. The only real miss is James Caan's seen-it-a-million-times rendition of the President; thankfully, however, his screen time is limited.

The comedy, slapstick and deadpan mostly, is consistently laugh-out-loud funny without pushing the envelope. (Occasional forays into bathroom humor are appropriately underplayed and inoffensive; Mike Myers should take notes.) The key action sequences are sufficiently thrilling, even if you never really consider our heroes in any serious danger.

No one should leave a showing of Get Smart disappointed; no one will be coming back for five repeat viewings, and the film might fade from your memory in short order, but let's not ask for too much, here. Get Smart is a fine, funny, entertaining summer comedy, with very little to complain about. Compared to most of our summer comedy offerings so far, it's a solid hit.