Get Smart (*)
Get Smart the ’60s television show, co-created by Mel Brooks and Buck Henry, was full of gags and groaners. There was little sophistication in it, but Get Smart the 2008 blockbuster has even less. It rehashes the series’s most popular jokes (the Cone of Silence, for instance) and adds a lot more asinine, prim ones for the sake of its intended Middle American demographic.
True to form, Steve Carell weighs Get Smart down. It is not that he tries to compete with Don Adams, the original Maxwell Smart (he is wise not to imitate him, aside from two perfunctory “Missed it by that much”es), but that he has little with which to replace his predecessor’s antics. Carell depends on boy-child irony; it is supposed to be cute but gets redundant quickly, and has, as Evan Almighty and Dan in Real Life have proven, little appeal. His banter with Anne Hathaway’s 99 is stultifying, consisting of playground-style insults; intimidated by Hathaway’s prowess as an agent, Carell repeatedly takes out his feckless gadgets and says, with po-faced glee, “You don’t have this? Hmmm.” Compare this inept May-October pairing with other comedic ones from the past (such as Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant in Charade) and shudder.
The film stoops much lower, however. Its slapped-together scenarios teem with uninteresting vulgarity: fat people jokes, sodomy jokes, Arab jokes, deaf people jokes, mooning, all done extra-blandly, with no special intent other than to draw out titters. One feels obliged to point to the irony of the title, and to use it as a corny caveat in the spirit of the original show: get smart and ignore this junk.
Get Smart is now playing at SilverCity Yonge-Eglinton (2300 Yonge St.), SilverCity Yorkdale (3401 Dufferin St.) and AMC Yonge and Dundas (10 Dundas St. E.).