Get Smart

Get Smart (2008)
Warner Home Video
Cast: Steve Carell, Anne Hathaway, Alan Arkin, Dwayne Johnson, Terence Stamp, James Caan
Extras: Comedy Optimization Mode, Featurettes, Gag Reel, Vomit Reel, DVD Game, Trailer

When I first saw the trailers for "Get Smart" in theaters some time ago, I thought to myself, "This can't be good." The trailer however, did have some funny moments that were very Maxwell Smart-ish, somewhat tempering my reluctance. When Warner Home Video sent over the Blu-Ray version of the film for us to review, I decided to give it a look and see how it actually turned out. And, boy, am I glad I did.

Based on the classic TV series by the same name, "Get Smart" is an updated version of the show, put in a feature film format. It features Steve Carell as the bumbling secret agent Maxwell Smart who stumbles through his first case. Armed with bizarre gadgets that put James Bond's gear to shame, and his superior intellect only, Smart is teamed up with Agent 99 (Anne Hathaway). With romantic feelings between them sizzling to the boiling point – at least in Max's imagination – makes sure to look out for the girl all the way and puts an end to the terrorist ring KAOS.

I didn't expect all that much from "Get Smart" and was very pleasantly surprised by the level of real comedy found in the picture. Instead of the gross-out/sophomoric kind of immature humor found in virtually all comedies made today. "Get Smart" actually delivers a smatter of laughs through the use of wonderful dialogue, great situational comedy and simple wordplay. In addition the film serves up a decent spy thriller story that is over the top, yet still gripping and engaging to actually create a real sense of suspense and drama.

While a lot of the quality of "Get Smart" can be attributed to the thought-through script and the overall quality of the writing, it is also the cast that helps elevate this comedy above the rest. Steve Carell has been borderlining his "shtick" in his past movies, begging the question if there's more to him than that guy from the Office. In "Get Smart" he is still in that vein but manages to crank it a notch up and out of the "real guy with quirks" corner into the realms of full goof. He is just wonderful to watch here as he stumbles from one hilarity to another in a way that somehow reminded me of Steve Martin in his best roles. To root the goofball, Carell is complemented perfectly by anne Hathaway. I admit, to me Anne Hathaway has always been that kid from "Princess Diaries" and I was very pleasantly surprised at the level of depth and character brought to this role. I truly enjoyed watching her deal with Max's antics and even poking fun at him.

The scene stealer in the film is Alan Arkin, however, how turns every shot he's in into a laugh. Something abut his delivery is so hilariously dry that I had a smirk on my face every time he would open his mouth. Add to it Dwayne Johnson, James Caan, Bill Murray and Terence Stamp and you have a cast that really works the material.

Coming to Blu-Ray with a 1080p high definition transfer, "Get Smart" delivers the goods in the technical department also. THe transfer is clean and extremely detailed, bringing out every little bit of information in the picture. Whether it's clothing, skin or the fine texture of asphalt, the presentation looks good every second of the way. Razor sharp, the image has incredible definition that will strike you immediately. With deep black levels and vibrant colors, this is definitely a high end presentation the way you would expect from a brand new high caliber film.

Th film comes with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio tracks in a variety of languages. While there are no lossless tracks, the high bitrate Dolby tracks serve the film well. As I pointed out earlier, "Get Smart" manages to create a real spy thriller action story and as such there are some great moments where the sound design can play its muscles. With powerful directional effects and a solid bottom end of the audio spectrum, this track shines and excites.

Of course, Warner has also added bonus materials to this release, and coming as a 2-disc set, there's a bit for everyone. Offering a "Comedy Optimization Mode," you actually have the chance to kind of re-edit parts of the movie to drop in alternate gags in places. Kind of like an alternate scenes feature on steroids that can also produce a lot of laughs.

A whole bunch of featurettes make up the majority of the bonus materials, covering many aspects of the film's production. I found "The Old 'I Hid It In The Movie' Trick" particularly entertaining. If you're fan of the original TV series, you will find a treasure trove of tidbits here about how the director placed elements and references to the TV show in the movie.

But all the other featurettes are also worth seeing, as well as the included Gag Reel and the Vomit Reel. As an additional extra, the release contains a DVD game called "Get Smart: KAOS Control."

I found "Get Smart" to be a wonderful surprise. It features a bit of crude language which may be borderline for young children unfortunately, but other than that, it is a great and highly entertaining comedy. If you've had enough of those really dumb juvenile comedies, give this one a try. It truly feels like a throwback to the TV series and does indeed have kind of a Mel Brooks touch.