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Get Smart

Smart. Max Smart.

No summer would be complete without at least one breakout comedy. The past few years, Judd Apatow (Superbad, Knocked Up, The 40 Year Old Virgin) has virtually owned this space. However, it would appear Apatow has some competition this summer with the arrival of Get Smart. Steve Carell playing Max Smart (Agent 86) appears to have rediscovered his comedic stride in this remake of the popular 60s television series.

Carrell plays Max Smart, an earnest, "analyst" working for the uber-secret and cryptic agency (CONTROL) that saves the world on a daily (and nightly) basis. Smartís just about the best at what he does. Unfortunately, what he does bores most of his fellow field agents to tears and it certainly isnít as sexy as popping a cap in a few terrorists.

Smartís pipe dream of becoming a field agent becomes less of a dream and more of a reality when KAOS (an organization committed to destroying the world) hacks CONTROL's database and discovers the identity of virtually all their agents. With virtually all of the agentsí identities compromised, Smartís boss, "The Chief" (played by Alan Arkin) has no choice but to promote Smart to agent status (Agent 86 no less) and throw Max into the field to thwart the latest KAOS plot. Fortunately, Smart has the sexy (and asskicking) Agent 99 (Anne Hathaway) at his side to save the world.

What unfolds is one of the funniest spy comedies since the television series "Get Smart". Director Peter Segal appears to have found his comedic touch with Get Smart after a series of fairly mediocre attempts at comedy (50 First Dates, The Longest Yard, Anger Management). Segal mines Smartís fumbling attempts at slick espionage for all itís worth. Smart is the anti-Bond. James Bond personifies suave, debonair, and deadly. Smart on the other handÖ.well..he really, REALLY tries!

Complementing Carellís hysterical fumblings and near death moments is some high quality bantering between the cold as ice Agent 99 who finds herself having to save Smartís ass more often than sheíd like. As one would expect, thereís an inevitable warming between the two as the film progresses, but despite this predictability, the "romantic" partnering of these two becomes vaguely plausible and actually a bit charming.

Helping Carell carry the comedic load is Alan Arkin as the beleaguered Chief of CONTROL. Arkin and Carell clearly developed a rapport in Little Miss Sunshine that carries over into Get Smart. The interactions between these two never fail to elicit laughter. Arkin has what is one of the best lines in the film when he is almost impaled with a swordfish.

Get Smart is a comedy that is filled with so many funny moments (big and small) that it really requires two viewings to catch everything. Carrell is perfectly cast as Smart. Arkin is similarly well cast as the Chief. Even Anne Hathaway is solid as Agent 99. Segal has struck gold with Get Smart and itís hard to imagine this film not spawning a franchise. Granted, Segal owes a debt of gratitude to Mel Brooks and Buck Henry who consulted on this stellar remake.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars