Rating: 2.5 stars
A conspicuously big budget and some game work by the leads elevates Get Smart from utter mediocrity to serviceable entertainment. But still, this update of the popular 60’s series never truly gains its footing. Is it an homage to the show? If so, they should’ve made Maxwell Smart (Steve Carell) more of a bumbling wannabe, as he was on the sitcom. (In this version, he’s more of a brainy nerd who’s good with a gun—he’s like Napoleon Dynamite if those numchuck skills actually came in handy). Is it a spoof of spy films? If so, get in line behind the superior Casino Royale, Austin Powers, Top Secret, et al. Still, the physical comedy can be quite funny—there are two stand-out set pieces (one involving darts in an airplane bathroom stall; the other a dance extravaganza at the home of a Russian warlord) and Anne Hathaway graduates from The Princess Diaries to believable sexpot as Agent 99. Even the Rock—now known exclusively as Dwayne Johnson, la di da—is funny as the alpha male spy who takes Max under his wing. And Alan Arkin gets to have a bit of fun as the feisty department chief. It’s all pretty slapdash and slapsticky and pointless, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have a good time. Can I give Get Smart a whole-hearted endorsement as silly summer fun? As Max would say, they missed it by that much.