Starring Steve Carell, Anne Hathaway, Alan Arkin. Directed by Peter Segal. Warner Home Video $28.95 (blu-ray $35.95) **
Great casting can't get past some really bad story decisions in this big-screen adaptation of the seminal 1960s TV series, a send-up of the James Bond franchise that announced creator Mel Brooks as a force to be reckoned with in American comedy. (He'd gotten his start in the 1950s, with Sid Caesar's Your Show of Shows, but really took off with this series' 1965 premiere.)
Short of bringing the late Don Adams back to reprise his role as Maxwell Smart, it would be hard to find anyone better-suited to portray the bumbling Agent 86 than Steve Carell. Likewise, Anne Hathaway seems like a fitting spiritual descendant of Barbara Feldon's slinky Agent 99, and Alan Arkin is fine as the straight-arrow Chief.
But whoever was charged with casting the film must have had nothing to do with the screenplay, which gives Smart an unnecessary back story and belabors every joke well past the breaking point. Worse, the series' deadpan humor has been sacrificed, in favor of special effects and lame attempts at poignancy. Smart fans might be better served by investing in another of today's DVD releases: The Get Smart Gift Set (Warner Home Video, $199.95), a 25-disc collection that includes all 138 episodes of the original series' five-season run from 1965-1970.
Also out today: Project Runway: Season 4 (Weinstein Co., $27.95): Here's your chance to watch every step as Annapolis' own Christian Siriano inexorably marches his way toward high-fashion glory.
Other releases: The Gregory Peck Film Collection (Universal Studios, $59.98) includes 1952's The World in His Arms, 1962's To Kill a Mockingbird, 1962's Cape Fear, 1963's Captain Newman, M.D ., 1965's Mirage and 1966's Arabesque; Michael J. Fox is an assistant to New York Mayor Barry Bostwick in Spin City: The Complete Season 1 (Shout Factory, $39.95); the self-explanatory Bikini Bloodbath Carwash (Eclectic DVD Distribution, $19.95).