Overall Impression — At first I was embarrassed at how much I liked this movie, and then I realized that I had nothing to be ashamed about!


Who’s your main character? — Maxwell Smart.

What’s he trying to accomplish? — Prove that he’s a capable field agent, impress Agent 99, and save the city of Los Angeles.

Who’s trying to stop him? — Siegfried of KAOS.

What happens if he fails? — The city of Los Angeles will be destroyed by a bomb


Orphan — Max is a highly regarded analyst but has failed the field agent test a number of times.  When he finally passes the test he still isn’t promoted because he’s too valuable at the office.  People think he’s a joke, he lives alone, and gets no respect from most of the other agents.

Wanderer — Max gets his big break, is partnered with Agent 99, and starts to pursue leads — all the while trying to figure out how to get 99 to open up to him and like him.

Warrior — In a brilliant switch over from wanderer to warrior, Max takes the “fight” to 99 and during a battle for supremacy on a ballroom dance floor.  She begins to respect him and they start bonding while getting closer to KAOS.

Martyr — Max is willing to sacrifice himself and his career (he’s been branded a double agent) in order to save the city.


I think the thing I like most about this movie was that the filmmakers didn’t take the easy (i.e. stoopid) way out.  It would have been too simple to make Max a total fool.  Instead, he’s a perceptive agent with great instincts (really heroic qualities) but lousy luck!  This makes him a perfect comic leading man.  We’re able to laugh with Max and sometimes at him, but without ever feeling guilty or cruel.

Philosopher Henri Bergson famously said that comedy requires “a momentary anesthesia of the heart”, which is true to an extent in GET SMART.  It’s easy to feel superior to a comic, inept character and it requires us to park our humanity for a short while to enjoy watching the pie hit the face.  Thanks to some deft character work all around, the anesthesia required to watch Max is more of a mild sedative.

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3 Responses to “GET SMART”

  1. vc December 24, 2008 at 2:00 am #

    Can you analyze “The 40 year old Virgin” next?

  2. vc December 24, 2008 at 2:00 am #

    Can you analyze “The 40 year old Virgin” next?

  3. noah schechter May 7, 2009 at 7:04 pm #

    hi Abba, and Dan. I love the reviews keep em

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