Consider, for a moment, the absolutely terrible remakes of classic TV shows that have littered Hollywood over the last few years: The Dukes of Hazzard, Bewitched, The Flintstones, The Beverly Hillbillies. In their defense, the people who helmed these horror shows were saddled with an almost impossible task—capturing the magic of a popular television show without the original cast, and decades past its prime. That being the case, let's just say I went into the reincarnation of Get Smart with less than high expectations. And for the film's first 10 minutes, those expectations were met. However, then something surprising happened: Get Smart got good.
Originally created by the legitimately hilarious team of Buck Henry and Mel Brooks, the TV version of Get Smart was a witty spoof of James Bond flicks and the Cold War, starring the eccentric Don Adams as Agent 86—AKA Maxwell Smart—who blundered his way to the completion of his missions. The scripts relied heavily on a precarious balance of witty banter and physical comedy, two attributes that the movie version also successfully captures. And while it would've been all too easy for leading man Steve Carell to mimic Adams' unusual demeanor and cadence, the character he creates is even better: simultaneously stiff, charming, bumbling, and quietly badass.
The plot is unimportant (bad guys from the evil organization KAOS steal nuclear material in order to kill the president), so the real fun comes from the loopy ride as Smart goes from stiff government analyst to moderately less stiff super agent, with a little help from his comely partner, Agent 99 (Anne Hathaway). The movie is filled with fun, smile-inducing asides including blistering parodies of inept government employees (and presidential cabinets), as well as some hilarious cameos that will make you wonder, "What's HE doing here?" Even the action scenes are expertly choreographed, providing a precarious balance between goofy fun and life-threatening danger. True, some of the gags and allusions to the original series may go over the heads of the uninitiated—but provided you go in with moderate expectations, there's still plenty of entertainment in this just-for-laffs summer flick.