When you see a film and think that “The Rock” gave the best performance, there is something terribly wrong.
GET SMART, the spy spoof television series gets the theatrical treatment with Steve Carrell and Anne Hathaway stepping in for Don Adams and Barbara Feldon. It appears that the worst has come true. Studios are completely out of fresh ideas and so they must reach back into the vault and recreate every television show into a film. I can’t wait until this all comes full circle for me and I spend my elderly years watching theatrical adaptations of “The Hills”, “Desperate Housewives” and “I Love New York”.
The basic rule of a comedy is that it must be funny. If it’s not funny the project has failed. There’s a cringe worthy element to watching GET SMART and seeing joke after joke bomb. There were many instances when I’m not sure a joke was told but everyone in the scene held for laughs. The film shares the plot of the TV show: Maxwell Smart (Carrell) is a doofus secret agent who would normally screw up everything if not for the skills of Agent 99 (Hathaway). GET SMART at least did one clever thing, which was to make up a “reconstructive surgery” back story so all creepy vibes of Steve Carrell hitting on Anne Hathaway would be extinguished. Carrell is absolutely sleepwalking through this thing. It seems as if any minute he’s gonna check his watch or call his agent during the movie to see if his check has cleared yet. There’s no sense of joy or fun he is having with the character. He plays it pretty much straight while Hathaway rolls her eyes. Carrell is actually out-charmed by The Rock, who takes a small role and does something with it. He has a better screen presence than Carrell or Hathaway.
The funniest moment of the film comes from a throwaway cameo by Bill Murray, who proves once again that adding Bill Murray to anything is the smartest decision a director can make. Bill Murray gets more laughs in 30 seconds than Carrell gets in 2 hours, and I am a Carell fan. Why didn’t they just get Murray to play Maxwell Smart? Carrell has an affable sincerity that worked wonders for him in THE 40 YEAR OLD VIRGIN but he was the straight man in that film. Now, without any reasonably good comedy material written for him, Carrell just seems like a nice guy in a comedy that’s not funny. Carrell isn’t someone inherently funny like Murray.
There’s a chase scene that is unnecessary and there’s one of those sky diving sequences that only exist in movies that have no concept of gravity, time or space. Someone can jump out of an airplane and then 5 minutes later someone can catch up to them. Then someone who jumped out long before the person above them, can somehow float upwards to catch up to them. How convenient. It’s never helpful to insert bad action into a bad comedy. There’s also a completely dumbfounding scene as Carrell tries to navigate through one of those security systems (only found in movies) made up of countless intersecting lasers. He keeps hitting the lasers which just singe his suit and give him boo-boos. Why don’t these lasers sound off the alarm? What is the point of a clearly multi-million dollar security system that simply ruins your clothes? Have the laughs started yet?
GET SMART should have stayed on television. Hatthaway is annoying and she has zero chemistry with Carrell. If studios can’t come up with any new ideas they should at least put some time and thought into these TV adaptations.