Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Mr. & Mrs. Smith


A Romantic Comedy That Blows Up Real Good

It’s a tried-and-true Hollywood formula: put movie stars together onscreen, give them cool words to say, ignore the plot and whammo--people will love it. Of course, it doesn’t hurt if the stars are so beautiful it’s almost absurd and have chemistry so thick you can cut it with a throwing knife. Such is the case with Mr. & Mrs. Smith, a comedy-thriller whose preposterousness is completely offset by the crackling performances of leads Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie.

John and Jane Smith (Pitt and Jolie) are floundering in their marriage. The spark that brought them together has fizzled, and they are even in therapy to help bridge the gap between them. While they look like the perfect couple, they are both leading double lives. That’s right, they are both highly paid assassins at the top of their game, and have kept this secret from each other for their entire marriage. After they both receive the same assignment and almost wax each other, suspicion builds as husband and wife start to suspect each other as the competition….

This movie is a lot of fun. The two stars play so well off of each other, that you get giddy just watching them tease each other with their witty banter and (in the film’s best scene) explosive foreplay. The action elements are very well done, but would be rudimentary if not for the Smith’s hysterical constant one-upping of each other, all within the violent setting. It’s very funny (especially if you’re married), very sexy, and kind of sweet, too.

There are some elements that don’t work very well. When the movie sticks to comedy it’s on safe ground, but when the thriller story takes over toward the end, I was less impressed. The movie has no real villain, only hoards of faceless targets the Smith’s gun down with ease. This is fine in the comic portions, but near the end (which was nicely resembling the resolution from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid--then wimps out) they pull of an impossible escape that made my eyes roll.

Pitt and Jolie are the reason to see this movie. Whether you factor in their off-screen relationship or not, sparks fly all over the place (sometimes literally) when they share the screen together. It’s this electricity that lifts Mr. & Mrs. Smith above its action movie framework into something really entertaining. I think I’ll give my wife a big hug when I get home--just in case she happens to be a contract killer and forgot to tell me.

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