DVD: Carell plays it 'Smart'

  • Article by: RANDY A. SALAS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 1, 2008 - 11:43 PM

The star of "The Office" gets it just right in his remake of the 1960s spy spoof. And the DVD of the film adds extra funny bits.

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In this image released by Warner Bros. Pictures, Anne Hathaway, left, and Steve Carell are shown in a scene from, "Get Smart."

Photo: Tracy Bennett, Associated Press - Ap

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Do we really need another lame film adaptation of a classic TV show? That was the feeling when "Get Smart" was announced, even with hot commodity Steve Carell from "The Office" as its star. After all, his previous film comedy ("Evan Almighty") was a mess of biblical proportions, and "Get Smart" was going up against Mike Myers' much-hyped "The Love Guru."

Then "Get Smart" came out. Not only was it a gleeful romp through familiar comedic territory, but it turned out to be a decent action film, too. Its surprising box-office success also helped send "The Love Guru" into oblivion.

It all adds up to anticipation for Tuesday's release of "Get Smart" on DVD and Blu-ray (Warner, $29-$36). The producers, who include Carell, are catering to those fans with loads of new material on disc.

"There was a lot of funny stuff that we could not put in this movie. If we had, 'Get Smart' would have been nine hours and 27 minutes long,'" Carell explains drily in an introduction.

So viewers have the choice of watching the film in Comedy Optimization Mode. When an icon appears on the screen, viewers can press a button on their remote to access deleted scenes and alternate jokes played within the context of the story.

"It's a chance for you to see what might have been, what never will be but what might have been," Carell says. "And it increases the funny quotient by 62 percent. So enjoy and -- you're welcome."

Watching "Get Smart" in this fashion is recommended only if you've already seen the film, because the continual interruptions are jarring. (The prompt to see the material also must be part of the joke because the intrusive icon actually takes over the whole screen.) Many of the alternate jokes are rarely better than the ones used in the final film, but it is fun to see several riffs on the sme scene.

In the film, Carell fittingly channels his bumbling boss from "The Office" more than he does the original star of TV's "Get Smart," Don Adams. As secret agent Michael Scott -- sorry, make that secret agent Maxwell Smart -- he travels to Moscow to track down the nefarious agents of the evil KAOS. Playing off of the cut-up Carell is Anne Hathaway as fellow CONTROL operative Agent 99, a brilliant casting choice.

In a 10-minute featurette on the double-disc DVD and Blu-ray versions, director Peter Segal says that many actresses wanted the lead female role and that he thought Anne Hathaway was too young for it. (She's 25; Carell's 46.) Then in October 2006, she showed up for a screen test with Carell, glimpses of which are included in the featurette.

"When they sat down, sparks just started to fly -- and I'm not kidding," Segal says. Her ad-libs during the tests were so snappy that some ended up in the script.

The rest of the short extras are fairly lightweight -- a look at filming in Moscow; a gag reel; a stand-up bit in which Carell mocks learning foreign languages, plus a digital copy of the movie for computers and portable players. (The single-disc DVD version contains only the movie and the Comedy Optimization Mode.)

Longtime fans might like to know that the original TV series, starring Adams, is finally coming out Tuesday from HBO Video. The show had been available exclusively on DVD from Time-Life but now will be sold by regular retailers. The $200 retail price might seem high, but the 25-disc set of all five seasons is being offered by some discounters for as little as $110.

Get in on the early deals before you lament, like Smart, that you "missed it by that much!"

Randy A. Salas • 612-673-4542

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