Maxwell Smart (Steve Carrell) is a pencil pushing bureaucrat in CONTROL, a US government spy agency. His moment has finally arrived. After eight attempts to pass the field agent’s exam, he eagerly awaits the good news that he has passed, and is finally given an assignment. To his disappointment, the Chief (Alan Arkin) says that headquarters needs Max’s meticulous though boring reports on the Russian terrorist agency KAOS, and can’t spare him. To make matters worse, macho Agent 23 (Dwayne Johnson), struts in from his latest mission abroad, garnering the affection of the blonde receptionist.
Max leaves the office dejectedly, feeling that all is lost. His frustration is short lived, however, for headquarters is attacked by KAOS and all the field agents’ identities are compromised, opening an opportunity for the rookie. He is sent to Russia to intercept a nuclear bomb plot to blow up the US. Sophisticated Agent 99 (Anne Hathaway) isn’t thrilled to be paired with the bumbling Max, a fact she pointedly asserts, ignoring him on their flight to Russia. But Max’s techno-geek friends Bruce (Masi Oka) and Lloyd (David Koechner) have fitted up a Swiss Army knife complete with flamethrower and mini cross-bow and when Max shows it off in an effort to impress 99, the pair’s famous chemistry begins.
Anne Hathaway’s portrayal of sultry yet hard-hitting Agent 99 is first-rate, and Steve Carrell is the consummate Maxwell Smart, brainy yet klutzy. The film has enough classic spy action, evil enemies, and humor, to keep the audience engaged. Although a spirited tango competition at a Russian party and testy banter between the pair are reminiscent of the 1960’s TV show, we are soon reminded that we are not in the 1960’s anymore. The humor gets progressively more raunchy; the sexual elements are too blatant to go over the heads of anyone: a male to male kiss, fondling, and simulated homosexual acts. There was no nudity beyond bare buttocks, but has Hollywood lost all subtlety? Director Peter Segal apparently tried to cover for the lifeless dialogue in the screenplay with overdone sexual content. To say times have changed since the ’60’s is no excuse. Why not wow the audience with spectacular special effects, keep the slapstick gags, and leave the smut out of this PG-13 rated film?
There were several adolescent boys in the audience who were obviously bored, so just what audience was Segal aiming for? If this was a film for adults, and the sexual content obviously makes it so, the film should have aimed for an R rating so families would know enough to “Get Smart” and stay home. Wait for a TV showing of this film where you can enjoy the action and humor after the offensive language and overt sexual references are deleted.