Get Smart (2008)


Agent Maxwell Smart is a CONTROL analyst aspiring to become a field agent for the crack spy-force. When a sabotage of his agency's headquarters knocks out all but two field agents, Smart gets the chance of the lifetime. He is paired up with the gorgeous but deadly Agent 99 and with next to no experience, or personality skills, Smart bumbles his way through his highly sensitive mission to topple the terror organisation KAOS.

Vital Statistics
Studio: Warner Brothers
Running Time: 110 minutes
Budget: $80 million
Box office: $130,313,314

Directed by: Peter Segal
Produced by: Bruce Berman, Steve Carell, Peter Segal, et al
Written by: Tom J. Astle, Matt Ember
Music by: Trevor Rabin

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"Do you just punch people in the face, willy-nilly? It's Tuesday, I'll punch Max in the face. Ooh, a box of kittens, time to punch Max in the face. Oh, I'm having some bread. Time to punch Max in the face." - Maxwell Smart

Cast & Characters

Maxwell Smart
Steve Carell

Agent 99
Anne Hathaway

Agent 23
Dwayne Johnson

The Chief
Alan Arkin

Terence Stamp

The President
James Caan

Agent 13
Bill Murray

Nate Torrence

Masi Oka

Washington DC, USA; Moscow, Russia; Montréal, Québec, Canada

The film is full of nods to the original Mel Brooks series including the scattered appearances of a Volkswagen Karman Ghia and an Opel GT and the famous Sunbeam Tiger that Max uses as his escape route. All these vehicles at one stage or other appeared in the TV series' opening credits.

Maxwell Smart is the title character. This CONTROL agent is not the best or the smartest, but simply the last man standing.

The Bond Connection
Adopting the trend from the TV Series, "Get Smart" is a parody of the spy-fi genre. Maxwell Smart is the polar opposite to James Bond, he lacks sophistication, fails to wow the ladies and any charm he retains after his fouling up a particularly daring feat is only a lovable type. In all of these ways Smart's character points out the fantasy element of how unlikely it is that a spy organisation would have one man that can tackle any adversary, any job, any time. One striking similarity to 007 is the surplus of gadgets and cars - both of course are blown out of proportion and often impractical.


Above: Steve Carell as Maxwell Smart entering CONTROL headquarters...

Production Notes
In casting the 2008 film, the executives were only too aware of the cult following of the original Don Adams and Mel Brooks TV series. With high expectations to live up to, casting the bumbling spy her Maxwell Smart could have been a tough task, but by all reports it was a quick and painless decision.

"I got called in after Anchor Man, and this was before '40 Year Old Virgin', and you know, trying to get my next job," recalls Steve Carell. "Warner Brothers called and said they were interested in me for 'Get Smart'. So I went over with picture and resume in hand and walked into a conference room and it was the executives and directors saying, 'We want you to play Maxwell Smart.' That was a huge, surreal moment for me."

Above: Smart and 99 are interrupted whilst investigating Siegfried...

With the lead actor in place, this quickly attracted other talent to the production - including its would-be director Peter Segal who had been the helmsman on a small selection of slapstick style comedies including "Nutty Professor II" and "50 First Dates". Segal collaborated with writers Tom Astle and Matt Ember to put the finishing touches on the script, whilst the duo of Carell and Segal attracted other Hollywood talent including Anne Hathaway and Oscar winner, Alan Arkin. Hathaway explained, "When I was a little kid 'Get Smart' was one of my favourite shows and my cousin, Pat McCauley and I would actually play 'Get Smart', he would be Max and I would be 99. So I guess I did have a little extra practice saying, 'Oh Max!'"

Above: Villains Terence Stamp and Ken Davitian...

The film shot at Warner Brothers Burbank studios as well as on location in Washington DC and Moscow, Russia. Director Segal recalled that Russia was a logistical challenge; often the deals struck on a location scout would have been forgotten of or changed by the time the crew wound up on the remotest locations. Back home, the climatic car-chase took six weeks to film in the busy metropolitan San Pedro, LA.

All of the cast were positive and respectful of the legacy of the '60s TV adventures behind them, with Dwayne Johnson giving credit in equal measure to Don Adams - the original Smart - and Carell's modern portrayal. "I was very proud of Steve for the character that he created," said Johnson. "You know not imitating Don Adams but in a very respectful way, just making sure he embodied the spirit of what the character was."

Above: Agent 99 (Anne Hathaway) and Maxwell Smart infiltrate a Russian strong-hold...

Whilst none of the original cast or creative were directly involved in the remaking of this classic, nods to the TV series are plenty, for example Don Adam's real name was Donald Yarmy, which was the name of the airline seen in the film. Even Leonard Stern, one of the producers of the series, makes a cameo.

When the film opened in the US on 20th June 2008, the film rocketed to the number one spot at the American box office, despite mixed reviews. The film made over $38 million in its opening weekend and screened in over 3000 theatres, nationwide. Shortly after released it was announced that Warner Brothers were planning to produce a sequel but details since the event have been less than forthcoming.

Above: Smart communicates with base via the unworldly and impractical shoe-phone, in a nod to the original series...


Capsule Reviews
"Carell's Max is decent, deserving, subtly witty and comic, which makes him far more appropriate as both a Carell character and a modern hero. But he's not always a perfect fit as the centerpiece of spy farce." - Variety

"Warner Bros.' 2008 remake of the 1960s' "Get Smart" television series attempts to reference and pay tribute to as much as possible that we remember about the old show (which itself was a spoof of the Bond series), while not being a direct imitation. Star Steve Carell bears a passing resemblance to TV's Don Adams in height, hair, and build, but Carell tries not to copy him. Although you'll find the old catch phrases here, like "Sorry about that, Chief," "Missed it by that much," and "Would you believe....," Carell goes out of his way not to use Adams's familiar inflections." - DVD Town

"I'd love to have a shoe-phone. I think it would be a great conversation starter. And I think we should get a push-button shoe-phone, as opposed to a rotary." - Steve Carell

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