Copyright 2005 Steve Rhodes
RATING (0 TO ****): **
MR. AND MRS. SMITH is a chemistry-free film featuring megastars Brad Pitt
and Angelina Jolie as a squabbling pair of married hired killers out to kill
each other. The movie is the quintessential sort of bloated blockbuster,
loud and lifeless, that Hollywood likes to dump on a public who it figures
chooses which movies to see based on the latest People magazine article on
the sexiest stars or the latest tabloid headlines.
Although the film is intended to be an action comedy, I never laughed or
cared, no matter how fancy the guns or pseudo-hip the dialog was. "Why do
I get the girl gun?" Mrs. Smith (Jolie) asks her husband in a line typical
of its misfired attempts at humor.
The biggest surprise is that, even with all of its frantic action, the movie
plods along at what feels like a snail's pace. The story's heart lies in
its adulation of sleek gadgetry and would-be dazzling pyrotechnics. Why
create plausible characters when you can blow something up?
MR. AND MRS. SMITH runs way too long at 2:02. It is rated PG-13 for
"sequences of violence, intense action, sexual content and brief strong
language" and would be acceptable for kids around 12 and up.
The film opens nationwide in the United States on Friday, June 10, 2005. In
the Silicon Valley, it will be showing at the AMC theaters, the Century
theaters and the Camera Cinemas.
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Mr. and Mrs. Smith
Mr. and Mrs. Smith met by chance five or six years ago. They quickly
married but have since become quite bored with domestic life.
Weeeeeell, their marriage is about to get a spark. You see, they're
both trained assassins. However, they work for rival companies, and
neither one realizes it. They soon find out the truth when they're both
hired to take out the same mark. Their paths collide, and now they're
forced to take out each other. Will they carry out their orders, or do
they have something else in mind? And will Johnny quit writing in short
sentences? Bradgelina ensues.
"Hey Johnny! So how is Mr. and Mrs. Smith?"
Well, what exactly are you expecting from the movie?
"Hmm, I'd say the action of Revenge of the Sith combined with the the
clever script of Memento. Oh, and with complete plausibility thrown in
for good measure."
Ah, well in that case I would have to say you should probably be
flogged with a wet, jello-filled straw. Don't worry, it's not too bad.
Trust me. Then you should take my course, "How to Properly Analyze a
Movie Based on its Trailer." It'll help you look a lot less like a
jack-a-dandy and prevent you from complaining about how this movie is
just too unbelievable.
Too unbelievable? You don't say. Look, right off the bat we're expected
to believe that this couple has been married for 5 or 6 years, they're
trained assassins who pride themselves on recon, and they never
suspected the other of being an assassin. If you can buy that premise
going into the movie then you waiver all rights to complain about
anything else that's a bit far-fetched, OK?
Is this a great movie that I'll gladly add to my DVD collection the day
it's released? Nah. But it was good for a couple of hours of
non-analytical fun. It's a little slow-paced at times, and there is
probably too much emphasis at the beginning on the mundanity of their
marriage (they're bored, we get it), but once things start to kick in
we get beautiful people, gunplay, car chases, explosions, one-line
exchanges, inside jokes, and doses of humor thrown at us left, right,
and up the middle. I'd also add "out the ying-yang" but that'd be too
cliché. The fight scene between Brad and Angelina is particularly
funny (though probably a little too reflective of a day in the life of
Ike Turner), as is Vince Vaughn's small role. You gotta love his
defense of living with his mom, "She cooks, cleans, makes my bed, and
I'm the dumb guy?"
If you're looking for character development then you better keep on
looking. Chances are you won't ever buy into the fact that you're
supposed to be watching the lives of Mr. and Mrs. Smith on screen. More
likely you'll be thinking as I did, "Hey, there's Brad Pitt and
Angelina Jolie just having some fun!" But who cares? As long as it
entertains then so be it. It doesn't really take itself seriously, so
why should you?
I mean, come on, Angelina Jolie walks out of gunfights and explosions
looking like she just walked out of a salon, so what are you expecting?
It's funny because this prompted my sister Amber to comment, "I wish I
could get blown up and still have my hair looking nice." To which I
inquired, "Why would you want to get blown up in the first place? How
about just wishing for your hair to look nice and not worry about being
involved in an explosion?"
Amber's response? "I'm just saying, if I were in a gunfight or
explosion then I wish I'd walk away looking as fixed up as Angelina
Jolie was." Oh. Well, THAT makes sense. *shakes head* Women.
There are some pretty cool scenes that I wouldn't mind witnessing again
one day, but there are also some clunkers that I'd fast forward through
just so I could get to the good stuff. In a Summer full of heavier
(albeit entertaining) material, if all you want is to watch a bunch of
beautiful people blow stuff up and aid you in a little escapism, then
Mr. and Mrs. Smith just might satisfy.
Rating: 3.5 (out of 5)
The Movie Mark
Rating: 3.5 out of 4
Director: Doug Liman
Screenplay: Simon Kinberg
Cast: Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, Vince Vaughn, Adam Brody
MPAA Classification: PG-13 (sequences of violence, intense action,
sexual content and brief strong language)
In a Summer season where ninety percent of the films revolve around
pretty people shooting and/or having sex with one another, Mr. and Mrs.
Smith almost seems like a parody of itself. In fact, that's what
impresses me most about the film. It's a shameless pulp action
thriller that's so self-referential that it turns itself into a kind
of satiric and ridiculous comedy. The plot is a pointedly simple man
vs. woman set up, the action is obviously abundant, and the leads are
the two sexiest known actors is the world. In fact, I'm impressed
that the corporate big wigs down at 20th Century Fox put this film
through production. It's so pulpy and shameless in its approach that
we can't help but have unbridled, Summer film fun.
The film opens at a marriage counseling office. Mr. and Mrs. Smith
(Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie) sit in front of a psychologist,
awkwardly assuring him their marriage is running along as smoothly as
it did five or six years ago (there's confusion as to how long it's
actually been). From this little gem of a scene, we follow the couple
back to their white collar house in the suburbs outside New York City.
The two eat dinner, exchange a few sentences of dialogue, and each read
books under the lamplight of their bedside tables, both hiding the fact
that they're assassins for hire working under different agencies.
Before heading off to a neighborhood party at the Coleman's house
across the street, Mrs. Smith runs off to an S&M club to whip a
big-time illegal arms dealer into shape. Mr. Smith, on the other hand,
goes to play a fatal game of poker with some associates of his firm.
Each return home and smile at the other, both wondering how the other
gets through the normal workday in a real suburban lifestyle. But this
calm ignorance of the other's secret career ends when Mr. and Mrs.
are both assigned to the same hit. Identifying each other, their firms
each give them 48 hours to eliminate the opposite hitman. If in 48
hours the opposing agent is still alive, the firm must cut loose the
agent of their own. It's just standard procedure. To put it sweetly,
this creates marital tension like you've never seen. Domestic abuse
has never been so fun.
A film with this sort of set-up (one of shameless formula and potential
for car chase sequences) has to be handled by the right director. In
someone like Stephen Chow's hands (Shaolin Soccer, Kung Fu Hustle),
Mr. and Mrs. Smith would be a slapstick action mess. Contrarily, in
someone like David Fincher's hands (Fight Club, Se7eN) the film would
take itself too seriously and miss the comedic side of its satire.
Somehow, Doug Liman is perfect for the role of director. Coming off of
the immensely successful Bourne Identity, Liman gives Mr. and Mrs.
Smith a tone of controlled seriousness. The comedy is already embedded
in the screenplay, so he thankfully decides to let the actors'
natural charisma play it out. And on the action side of things, Liman
doesn't over-dramatize the violence or attempt to brutalize his
characters with inhuman acts. The action is played out as it was in The
Bourne Identity; with controlled seriousness, meaning it's an
essential element of the film that simply needs to be played out. There
aren't thousands of cuts each lasting a fraction of a second, or too
many CGI stunt doubles replacing human actors; Liman takes a back-seat
and lets the film work itself out in its own pulp action way.
As much as we'd like to deny it, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are the
driving force behind Mr. and Mrs. Smith's PR. Rumors and tabloid
gossip aside, the two are no-brainers for their roles. I've come to
look forward to all of Pitt's films simply because of his wonderful
charismatic style. He rarely changes his approach to the way he plays
his characters simply because they all call for charisma, and here
it's superbly apparent. On Jolie's side of things, she was made to
play the role of a housewife assassin. Liman's said they initially
were looking into Nicole Kidman to play the part, but they settled for
Jolie. That's right, settled. In my opinion, Jolie is the only option
for Mrs. Smith.
Satire is a difficult thing to find in a Summer action film, but Mr.
and Mrs. Smith pulls it off flawlessly. There's a great sequence, a
car chase sequence actually, that initially comes to mind when talking
about the film's satire. The Smith's are running away from
seemingly dozens of hired hitmen all out for their heads. The bad guys
are in BMW's and the Smith's are in nothing less than the
Colemans' minivan. Swerving down the highway, the Smith utilize every
feature of the minivan to their assassin killing needs. In one part, a
baddie jumps into the minivan through a side sliding door only to be
thrown out the other side by way of the newly standard second sliding
door. "That comes in handy," says Mr. Smith after his
Between the wry satire on the suburban life, the blistering action
sequences, and Liman's superb direction, I came to find myself having
fun. It wasn't any meaningful, Oscar potential experience, but what
we sometime lose sight of while at the movies. Simple, unbridled fun.
-Sam Osborn of www.samseescinema.com