After the financial/emotional excremental woes of Evan Almighty and Dan in Real Life, comic Steve Carell shores up his career with a safe property: Peter Segal’s tent-pole blockbuster revamp of 1960s spy spoof Get Smart. Maxwell Smart (Carell) is an over-prepared secret agent whose clumsiness often leads to the apprehension of enemy spies. Given his chance to shine by fellow Agent 23 (Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson) and boss The Chief (Alan Arkin), Smart is sent to Moscow where he elicits the support of co-spy Agent 99 (Anne Hathaway) as they attempt to thwart the terrorist schemes of KAOS megalomaniac Siegfried (Terence Stamp).
Despite rarely capturing the alternately juvenile and deadpan spirit of the Mel Brooks original, Get Smart just about passes muster due to an lavish production, with the climactic race to stop the assassination of the US president (James Caan) at a classical music concert featuring a range of car, train and plane stunts that wouldn’t disgrace a Bond film. The satirical jabs aren’t too smart; it’s 40 years since spoofing secret agent paraphernalia was topical (shoe-phones and telephone box/elevators raise few laughs), but Carell’s gift for physical comedy endures; there’s a graceful scene in which Smart and Agent 99 traverse a roomful of lasers, Entrapment-style. Otherwise, The Rock’s genial charm is wasted, as is Bill Murray in a tiny cameo, and only Terence Stamp plays a blinder in an unlikely partnership with Ken Davitain, still most recognisable as Borat’s obnoxious manager.
General release from Fri 22 Aug.