Get Smart opens by re-creating the credits of the original, with Maxwell Smart (Steve Carell) walking through a seemingly endless series of locking doors until he gets to a telephone booth that transports him into the heart of CONTROL, a covert American intelligence agency set up to do battle with its dastardly rival, KAOS. CONTROL is presided over by The Chief (Alan Arkin), and Max is its best analyst. When an attack on CONTROL headquarters by KAOS operative Sigfried (Terrence Stamp) eliminates many of CONTROL's agents, Max is elevated from analyst to field operative and given the designation of "Agent 86." He is partnered with Agent 99 (Anne Hathaway) and sent into action. Providing them with support from the home base as they track down Sigfried is Agent 23 (Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson), who is too well-known to be able to function effectively under cover.
Steve Carell's portrayal of Max is just about perfect for the material. He doesn't try to ape Don Adams - that would have been a mistake - but there's enough of the late actor in the performance that the original Max hasn't been obfuscated. Carell delivers many of Max's signature lines ("Would you believe...", "Missed it by THIS much") with similar inflections. When it comes to re-interpreting a well-established character from the past, Carell is far more successful than Steve Martin's hatchet job in the remake of The Pink Panther. There's a little of Barbara Feldon in Anne Hathaway's Agent 99, although her outfits and attitudes are more modern. If there's a downside to the casting of Carell and Hathaway, it's that there's not much romantic chemistry between them (although they're fine as spy buddies). Then again, Adams and Feldon had the leisure of over 100 episodes to develop what Carell and Hathaway have to convey in less than two hours. Get Smart has its share of cameos. Bernie Koppell (the original Sigfried) has a blink-and-you'll-miss-it appearance. James Caan (who appeared in two Get Smart episodes) is the President. Bill Murray lives in a tree. And several other Saturday Night Live veterans show their faces.
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