The original Get Smart took the James Bond-initiated spy craze to its most absurd lengths, and from 1965 to 1970 the Mel Brook/Buck Henry creation was one of the funniest shows on TV, with a terrific cast headed, of course, by Don Adams and the beautiful Barbara Feldon.
We caught an afternoon showing of the new Get Smart movie yesterday, and loved it. The usual problem with movies made from old TV shows is that the people making those movies try to "update" them for modern audiences by adding "irony"--and as a result, instead of capturing the essence that made the original show popular, they make a mess that mocks the original property instead of paying tribute to it. I'm thinking here of movies like The Avengers, The Wild Wild West, I Spy, etc. Anyone would be far better off just watching DVDs of the original TV series instead of trying to sit through those execrable film versions.
But Get Smart gets it. Brooks and Henry are credited as "consultants," which is probably a good sign, because as two of the funniest writers ever to work on TV or film, they know how to move from one medium to the other. Steve Carrell is almost as good as Don Adams at some things, better than Adams at others. Anne Hathaway is brilliant, and if she's not quite as gorgeous as Barbara Feldon, she's close, especially when she wears a Feldon wig and a form-fitting metallic dress. About 15 seconds after she came on the screen, I had a crush on her, and it only got worse through the rest of the movie.
The action is good, with stunts and effects work on a par with any other contemporary action flick. The suspense is not quite nail-biting, but it works. And most of the comedy is laugh-out-loud funny, which is really the point. One doesn't have to be a fan of the original series to enjoy the movie, but if you are, rest assured that there's a shoe phone, a cone of silence, some "Would you believe" and "Missed it by that much" and "The old XXX trick" gags.
The first season of the original series will be out on DVD August 5. That one will be a keeper. But for once, modern moviemaking has done an excellent job of bringing a classic TV show to new life on the big screen.