If there’s proof that the right movie at the right time can make someone into an A-List star, Steve Carell is proof. Having gained fame on The Daily Show and stealing Bruce Almighty from Jim Carrey and then Anchorman from Will Ferrell, Carell rode that wave to the film that made him a star: The Forty Year Old Virgin. After that, Carell has meshed successful film roles with a starring turn in the American version of The Office and managed to become one of the hottest comedians working in America. 2008 saw Carell have another hit on his hands with a film version of the television show Get Smart.
Carell stars as the iconic Maxwell Smart, secret agent of CONTROL. CONTROL is an agency of the government that’s top secret, thought disbanded after the Cold War, but still exists to face evil in the form of KAOS. When KAOS has a nuclear weapon intended to use against the President, it’s up to Maxwell and Agent 99 (Anne Hathaway) to stop it.
Combining action and comedy, Peter Segal takes the series classic formula and embraces it for the film version of it. The film is a great spoof of a spy thriller while also being a great spy thriller in its own right. The film playfully takes the plot devices of the spy film, including the double agent, and simultaneously pokes fun at them while doing them excessively well. Interjecting humor into some relatively dramatic material, Get Smart works because it’s serious enough to poke shots at itself without crossing the line and taking away from the material. It all starts with its lead actors, without whom the film wouldn’t succeed.
Carell and Hathaway were the perfect picks for Maxwell and 99 in retrospect, as they work exceedingly well together. It’s been a career renaissance as of late for Hathaway, with Oscar buzz for her magnificent performance in Rachel Getting Married, and marvelously plays the role of the muscle to Carell’s brains. She redefines what Barbara Feldon brought to the role but bring a modern sensibility to it.
For Carell it’s a hit role after Dan in Real Life made for one of the few flops on his resume as of late. He doesn’t seek to ape Don Adams, most famous for the role, but he seeks to make the role his own. He captures the essence of Maxwell as Adams portrayed him, as the sort of idiot savant who manages to save the day by sheer luck, without trying to openly imitate him.
Get Smart works because it has a story that’s tightly plotted, throwing in laughs along the way but focusing on them. This is a film that’s funny but not aware of itself as one; it doesn’t play off gags, it just has them, and that’s what makes it funny. It works as an action film without the gags, and works as a comedy without the action, and when both are in play it works together. It does run a little longer, but never overstays its welcome as it’s hard to imagine cutting any of the film out.
Get Smart was highly anticipated and lived up to high expectations, both as a box office property and as a work of cinema.
Presented in a Dolby Digital format with a widescreen presentation, it’s a magnificent transfer. This is a colorful film with lots to see and hear and the DVD doesn’t disappoint.
You can play the film with Smart Takes, complete with an introduction by Steve Carell, where you can see various outtakes and deleted scenes reinserted back into the film.
The Right Agent for the Job focuses on the casting of Hathaway and Carell, with a little bit about Dwayne Johnson as well. Originally Carell had expressed an interest in the role and by default became the only actor they wanted for the part. Hathaway, on the other hand, was one of many actors that had expressed interest in the part, and her chemistry with Carell is cited as the reason she won the part. It’s an interesting piece but borders on being an EPK for large chunks of it, however.
Max in Moscow focuses on the film’s setting in Moscow, at least most of its main action sequences. Focusing on the challenges of filming in the Red Square, as well as its interesting daylight schedule that forced them to shoot at odd hours, it’s an interesting piece but doesn’t offer that much in terms of information.
Language Lessons features Carell butchering various languages of countries, including a hilarious bit with sign language.
A Gag Reel of minimal note and a trailer for the direct to video offering Get Smart’s Bruce & Lloyd Out of Control are included.
There’s also a Digital Copy of the film that you can put onto your computer.
Get Smart is this year’s version of Hot Fuzz: a terrific spoof of a genre film while also being a great genre film. As a two-disc special edition it’s a bit lacking, as it doesn’t have much besides the Digital Copy of the film that really stands out. The film is worth the purchase, but the single disc edition is more than adequate for most people. Recommendation for the special edition only if you’re a huge fan of the film, however.
Warner Brothers presents Get Smart. Directed by Peter Segal. Starring Steve Carell, Dwayne Johnson, David Koerchner, Anne Hathaway, Terrance Stamp, Alan Arkin. Written by Tom J Astle and Matt Ember. Based on characters by Buck Henry and Mel Brooks. Running time: 110 minutes. Rated PG-13. Released on DVD: 11.4.2008. Available at Amazon.
Tags: Alan Arkin, Anne Hathaway, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, Get Smart, Mel Brooks, Steve Carell