Get Smart

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Get Smart
Clearly relishing a return to his bumbling, likeable ‘40 Year Old Virgin’ persona after four years as the equally bumbling but distinctly unlikeable Michael Scott in ‘The Office’, Steve Carell seems to be enjoying himself as tech-nerd-turned-secret agent Maxwell Smart. Adapted from the popular spoof TV series created by Mel Brooks and Buck Henry, the movie follows Smart and his leggy sidekick Agent 99 (Anne Hathaway) as they hunt down terrorist forces that are attempting to infiltrate the secret government agency CONTROL.

With its roots firmly planted in the ’60s spy-pastiche genre, it’s perhaps unavoidable that ‘Get Smart’ has a whiff of ‘Austin Powers’ about it. But, in fact, that over-familiarity extends to the whole enterprise, from the knockabout violence and slapstick pratfalls to obvious gags about aeroplane toilets and fat women. The overlong script takes no risks: its globetrotting plot is replete with signposted twists –  the big last-act reveal will astonish no one over the age of six. ‘Nutty Professor II’ director Peter Segal consistently substitutes big bangs for big laughs – in the age of low-budget joys such as ‘Knocked Up’, this kind of overblown effects bonanza is beginning to feel decidedly outdated.

Some moments work. Bill Murray makes a welcome, if rather perfunctory, cameo as an agent trapped inside a tree, and the climactic car chase is exciting and remarkably well constructed. But overall this is a limp parade of recycled gags and gadgets: an action movie with no surprises and a comedy with nothing like enough laughs.

By: Tom Huddleston

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Release details

Rated: 12A
Release date: Friday August 22 2008
Duration: 110 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Peter Segal
Screenwriter: Tom J Astle, Matt Ember
Cast: Steve Carell
Anne Hathaway
The Rock
Terence Stamp
Alan Arkin
Terry Crews
David Koechner
James Caan
Bill Murray
Patrick Warburton
Masi Oka
Nate Torrence
Ken Davitian