Time: 110 mins.
SYNOPSIS: Maxwell Smart, newly promoted to the field as Agent 86, battles the forces of KAOS with the more competent and beautiful Agent 99 at his side.
BOTTOM LINE: While I really like Steve Carell, I find myself wondering, more often than not, why his forays onto the big screen just aren't as funny as I want and expect them to be. With the exception of THE 40-YEAR-OLD VIRGIN, all of his films, including this one, just never amount to more than a few funny sight gags, which he's very good at, but aren't enough to keep one entertained for ninety minutes. Granted, he may not be a classically trained actor, but surely he's capable of more than mugging for the camera and falling down with flair. Playing Maxwell Smart should have been a slam-dunk for him, but we found ourselves more than a bit bored by the proceedings. Sure, the action sequences were well-produced and even occassionally clever and exciting, however, the plot was too simplistic and obvious for the calibar of this cast. It seemed to be cobbled together from every other popular action movie with some jokes and physical pratfalls thrown in to showcase Carell's comic talent. If I was Don Adams, the original Maxwell Smart, I wouldn't be pleased with this flick. Granted the TV series was high-class, but at least it tried to be clever and original.
While this film won't hurt Hathaway's career – she gets to show she can be physically tough, as well as sexy and funny – it certainly won't help it much either. So much for that summer blockbuster to raise her caché. She practically steals the show from Carell, which isn't a good thing. While onscreen together they manage to make this film almost enjoyable, but they're clearly trying too hard to be funny and it's painful to watch. Arkin, Johnson and Stamp are cast to type – uptight boss, super-cool spy and evil villian – and bring nothing new to the table. They do give the film some class and weight, so I guess that's something. The integration of set pieces from the television series is done with a light and clever touch, which was nice to see. I just wished the rest of the film wasn't so heavy-handed. The finale has its' moments of excitement, unfortunately, they are ruined by the total obviousness of the film's real villian. God forbid, you make people have to think. I really wanted to like this movie, they just didn't give me enough reasons to. A slick, yet empty star vehicle that will amuse most people, but be quickly forgotten.