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"Mr. & Mrs. Smith"

Directed by Doug Liman.
Written by Simon Kinberg.
Starring Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie and Vince Vaughn.
Release Year:  2005
Review Date:  6/13/05


As light-and-fluffy summer popcorners go, "Mr. and Mrs. Smith" can't really be much better.  For a film that didn't interest me in its trailers and further scared me because of its PG-13 rating (action?  adventure?  adult language?  adult...activities?), I was shocked in a good way that the film was as good as it was.

The main reason for this is the surefire chemistry between the two leads.  Brad Pitt plays John Smith, loving husband and owner of a construction company in New York City.  Angelina Jolie plays Jane Smith, John's beautiful wife and the president of a staff augmentation firm.  Unbeknownst to each other, the two are actually the best assassins in the city.  And, in the course of their business after five (maybe six) years of being married to each, they have never had to fulfill a contract on anyone they know...until now.

Doug Liman, who's really only directed three other films over the last ten years, is picky but seems to know how to get the job done.  That's because he does such great work making actors seem like they have been lifelong friends or just really good buddies or just really believable lovers; you go over his body of work and you see what makes "Go", "The Bourne Identity" and his home run ball, "Swingers",, Pitt and Jolie just have a great presence as they run through familiar action film clichés and somewhat predictable gunplay mayhem.  When the guns aren't firing, there are just great moments between the two leads; whether they are standing in an elevator or singing along to a song on the radio or quietly upset at something the other person has done, all is handled well thanks to Liman's able hand, especially when he seems to let the actors give an impromptu look at each other.

And, look at the twosome, you will do.  As my buddy Rob echoed afterwards, you just can't help but stare at the duo--do people get much better looking?  It kind of reminds me of being in Miami; even if you are straight, you find yourself staring at your own sex because the mix of the clothes, the shades and "the look" is just right, and even though I do loves me some Angelina Jolie (her lips are damn near EXPLODING in close-ups), Brad Pitt is a fine-looking gentlemen.  I don't know why the costume department has him constantly wearing sweaters around the house, but otherwise, he's a smooth looking mama-jama.

The action scenes are more sparkle than pop; characters are constantly shooting at each other, but they are not often hitting anything, and when they do, bodies drop harmlessly and, well, PG-13-y.  But that's okay if the action is slightly comedic, and at no point are you taking seriously the idea that a man is ducking rocket-propelled grenades or spinning in a circle and taking out guys on the third level without actually aiming.  The finale is solid, the car chase is solid, the bang-up sequence where Smith and Smith go mano-y-mano in their own house has a beautiful "The War of the Roses" flair to it.  The action is good, certainly not great, and seems to steal heavily from other films but with MUCH better looking actors.

The film is slow going early, as we find out why the Smith marriage is falling apart.  And, the laughs don't come as quickly in the first half-hour or so, before the film really hits its stride.  Vince Vaughn, playing John's co-worker (and seems to be here due to his past relationship with director Liman, who put him through the paces in "Swingers"), is underutilized and is the only supporting character of any record, save for a kid that apparently is on "The O.C.", a show I still have never seen.  I think a few other characters would have livened things up a little, but not enough to change my opinion of the film.  The soundtrack was a little weak, featuring a caper soundtrack that didn't fit and some pop tracks that counteract what is happening on-screen (for example, a quiet happy track playing over the Smiths fistfighting at home).

But I was quite surprised with "Mr. & Mrs. Smith"; solid fare, and a good time for anyone looking for a slick production featuring two of our fine country's biggest stars.

Rating:  $9.50 Show


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
© 1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09