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Get Smart (AF)


Stars: Steve Carell, Anne Hathaway, Dwayne Johnson, Terence Stamp, James Caan, Ken Davitian, Terry Crews, David Koechner, Bill Murray (cameo), Patrick Warburton, Masi Oka, David S Lee, Lindsay Hollister

Director: Peter Segal

The zany comedic spirit of Mel Brooks, co-creator of the iconic 1960s TV spy spoof series, happily infuses this second (the less said about the first Maxwell Smart feature, 1980’s The Nude Bomb, the better) spin-off. Carell (who has comprehensively beaten Ricky Gervais at his own game in the US version of The Office) scores strongly as Smart, the uber-nerdy ace analyst of the US secret spy agency CONTROL who finally achieves his dream of quitting his desk for active service after the infamous crime syndicate KAOS attacks their HQ: he comes over as less of a bumbling bungler than Adams while creating his own very funny brand of comic chaos, perfectly potentiated by a deadpan expression that would do credit to Buster Keaton. His close encounters with gadgets that would turn ‘Q’ green with envy are particularly funny, notably when he skewers himself time after time with miniature arrows from a miniature crossbow contained in his unique flame-throwing Swiss Army knife.

Segal’s direction effectively blends spectacular action, including car chases, airborne high jinks, shootouts, extravagant explosions and thrilling stunts that 007 himself might envy with lashing of splendidly silly comic visual and verbal gags, many of them disgracefully coarse but disgracefully funny, performed with poker-faced panache by Carell and enjoyably put over by enthusiastic co-stars Hathaway, Arkin, Johnson (no longer to be referred to as ‘The Rock’) and, especially, Stamp who camps it up with scene-stealing gusto as an evil KAOS operative. The film pays homage to the TV series with Carell using the legendary shoe-phone and an outing for Smart’s red Sunbeam. Subtlety is not a hallmark of the cheerful show: easy to enjoy entertainment definitely is.

Alan Frank

USA 2008. UK Distributor: Warner Bros. Colour.
110 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 21 Aug 2008