MR. AND MRS. SMITH (2005)
Starring Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Vince Vaughn, Adam Brody, Kerry Washington, Keith David, Chris Weitz, Rachael Huntley, Michelle Monaghan, Stephanie March, Jennifer Morrison, Theresa Barrera, Perrey Reeves, Jerry T. Adams, Melanie Tolbert and Elijah Alexander.
Screenplay by Simon Kinberg.
Directed by Doug Liman.
Distributed by Twentieth Century Fox. 120 minutes. Rated PG-13.
This film comes into the theaters with the weight of so much media scrutiny that the movie is almost overshadowed by the tabloid hype. Did it cause Brad and Jen to break up? Are Brad and Angelina as hot and heavy on screen as they may or may not be in real life? (Depending on whose publicist’s denials you dismiss…) Did he really make her scream like a wild cat? Will it be any better than most of the other movies which were apparently spawned by a sizzling relationship? (Can you say Gigli or Proof of Life anyone?) Does anyone even care that there is a film connected to the possible affair of arguably the two hottest (in looks if not box office) stars in Hollywood?
Well, with the public caring or not, there actually is a film called Mr. and Mrs. Smith. The big surprise here is, it’s actually a rather good movie even if you are most likely to go to see it for the sizzle rather than the steak.
If the storyline sounds a little bit familiar, it is because it is essentially the 1986 black comedy Prizzi’s Honor turned up to eleven, with the action super-amped up for a post-Bruckheimer world. Brad Pitt plays John Smith, an assassin for hire. Angelina Jolie is Jane Smith, who also makes a living making sure others stop living. They meet muy caliente in South America when both of them are incognito on a job. A night of incredible passion leads to a marriage with an incredible lack of passion.
Five years later (or six, one of the funniest running gags in the film is the couple’s complete inability to agree on the amount of time served) the two have barely a thing to say each to other. They can’t reveal their true identities and careers (you’d think the names would be a clue) so they make hideous small talk about nothing.
All of this tired and tiring posturing blows up in their faces when they both get the same assignment for a hit from different sources. When they blow each other’s kill they get new contracts, on each other.
A funny thing happens, though, apparently attempted murder and wanton destruction returns the zip to their boring wedded existence. Quickly they are in the middle of an internal tug-of-war about whether they should murder each other or just fuck each other senseless. This seems like an extreme form of couples therapy, but it seems to work for the Smiths.
There really doesn’t need to be anyone else in the film, but Vince Vaughn turns in one of his usual clever readings as Pitt’s partner in crime, a jittery loser who lives with his mother “by choice” and trusts no one.
Most of this is surprisingly funny, particularly in the early scenes contrasting Pitt and Jolie’s dangerous work lives with their stagnant personal lives. There is some very subtle comic timing as they argue about the curtains, unconvincingly complement the food and lie about what they did with their days.
Of course, the most important question is just this; do Pitt and Jolie have chemistry? The answer is simply this — absolutely, in spades. They have smoldering power to spare, explosive and unpredictable and potent. Not only is it obvious that their characters want to have each other in the worst way, the audience feels it as well.
However, by the end, the film just careens out of control, so in love with its spectacular firefights and shattering explosions that all of the dark character comedy that was so appealing throughout the film gets bulldozed. A little more of the Pitt/Jolie fireworks and a little less of the total annihilation of hotels, restaurants and superstores would make this a better movie. (6/05)
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright ©2005 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: June 30, 2005.