MR. & MRS. SMITH
***1/2 (out of 5)
June 10, 2005
Brad Pitt as JOHN SMITH
Angelina Jolie as JANE SMITH
Vince Vaughn as EDDIE
Adam Brody as BENJAMIN
Kerry Washington as JASMINE
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Directed by: Doug Liman
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
Sometimes, a movie comes down the pike that makes more news for its co-stars and their relationship than on the merits of the film itself. The most recent example of this was “Gigli,” the Jennifer Lopez/Ben Affleck train wreck a few years ago.
Sometimes this sort of deflected publicity works, as it did for Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman in movies like “Far and Away” and “Eyes Wide Shut.” However, more often than not, it results the couple refusing to work together again, like after Kim Basinger and Alec Baldwin did “The Marrying Man” or after Meg Ryan got it on with co-star Russell Crowe in “Proof of Life.”
If you follow the industry scuttlebutt, you know that “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” is prepped to have the same problem. Aside from the basic plot – that Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie play competing assassins married to each other who are then assigned to kill each other – little is generally known about the film. Instead, more people will recognize it as the vehicle that broke up the marriage of Pitt and Jennifer Aniston.
Of course, I personally think that their marriage crumbled when Aniston’s career ended and Pitt’s continued. Sigh… is there no love left in Hollywood?
Before seeing “Mr. and Mrs. Smith,” I was bracing myself for a stink bomb. I generally like the people involved, including director Doug Liman who brought us “Swingers,” “Go” and “The Bourne Identity.” However, I was also aware that Angelina Jolie hadn’t made anything decent since the first “Tomb Raider,” and that was five years ago.
However, after seeing “Mr. and Mrs. Smith,” I have to admit. This movie ain’t all that bad. Not bad at all.
In fact, it’s a lot of fun. Sure, the plot is predictable and silly. And it does drag a bit in the middle, but what film doesn’t?
The action isn’t enough to carry the film itself. It is the tongue-in-cheek humor throughout the film that makes it work. Unlike other off-screen couples, Pitt and Jolie actually have quite a bit of chemistry. They both manage to be vulnerable, sexy and hilarious at the same time.
The set-up of secret spies in a marriage reminds me quite a bit of “True Lies,” another summer blockbuster that succeeded on its comedy angle more than as a pure action flick. The key to both of these movies is that is doesn’t skimp on the action – and it doesn’t skimp on the humor.
Aside from internal chemistry the actors have, I give a lot of credit to Doug Lima for this. Unfortunately, Liman doesn’t receive much ink as he’s quickly overshadowed by his stars. However, he is the force behind the films that makes it such a nice blend. We know he can do humor. We saw that in “Swingers.” And we know he can do action because we saw that in “The Bourne Identity.” Liman takes both aspects of the film very seriously and doesn’t neglect either.
“Mr. and Mrs. Smith” is an example of one that doesn’t live on action alone. Anyone can blow up a car, but not everyone can make it funny. It also doesn’t hurt to have a really funny supporting role from Vince Vaughn as Mr. Smith’s buddy Eddie.
Much of the humor comes from relationship issues that the characters have. Married people – or at least people in long-term, live-in relationships – will appreciate it far more than your basic teenage action geek. The film actually strikes a balance that should appeal to both men and woman. And having two of the sexiest stars for either gender doesn’t hurt.