Sunday, June 12, 2005

Little Known Fact: John Smith Was An Art History Major at Notre Dame...

WARNING: Minor Mr. and Mrs. Smith spoilers below. Nothing too major, but since you can probably already tell me how most of the movie goes, it shouldn’t be too bad.

I’ve been promoting Mr. and Mrs. Smith for months, mainly because it gives me a cheap excuse to show pictures of Angelina Jolie and talk about the splendors of Vince Vaughn and Adam Brody. Plus, there’s nothing wrong with Brad Pitt, who is usually entertaining in his roles.

Now the movie itself, after the months of hype, sorta lives up to it. It’s not perfect by any standards, as there’s something just a little bit off about the whole thing, but as far as summer movies go, it’s a good time. I think it’s the pacing that is what kills it, because it drags to start and busts out as many explosions as possible to finish. The writing isn’t bad, though I’m sure a lot of the lines are helped by Pitt, Jolie and Vaughn, but they can’t help to fill in some of the plot holes. (The bounty is just dropped at the end? They just both happened to be in Colombia during what looks like a revolution of some sort?)

If you were excited for Adam Brody’s blockbuster debut, you’re going to be disappointed, as he’s just sorta thrown in here and there. He manages to carry his own, and I guess you can’t expect him to get too much play in a movie where he’s subordinate to three uber-stars, so all-in-all, he handled himself well in the role.

Vince Vaughn’s character probably doesn’t need to exist (He’s just the guy-at-work for Mr. Smith; Mrs. Smith has some random girl she talks to about the relationship and such), but I’m certainly glad he does. He’s like a loser, hitman version of Double Down Trent, always attempting to pick up waitresses, all while living with his mother, spitting one-liners and giving crappy advice to Mr. Smith. Just another example of Vince Vaughn taking over the world.

Pitt and Jolie are fantastic. The awkward distance in their relationship at the start of the movie – they’re in marriage counseling for a check-up after “5 or 6 years” – is a stark contrast to how close they are in the flashbacks that show the beginning of their relationship. This is where the movie is really fantastic, as it takes the subtleties of a relationship – the secrets you don’t tell, the common bonds you have, the small-talk when you don’t want to say what you really feel – and just throws it onto a much larger scale.

Normal couples keep small secrets from each other; the Smiths keep the fact they’re both trained assassins. Normal couples will have loud, nasty, verbal fights, where they let out some of the stuff they’ve been bottling up; the Smiths have that with some zinging lines, but then they have rousing gun and fist fights throughout their home. Normal couples discuss how many other people they’ve been with; the Smiths discuss how many people they’ve killed.

The latter one is after they realize who their partner really is, and after trying to decide if they truly love each other or if they’re just convenient covers, then can finally let the walls down around themselves. It’s the same thing as when you’re making small-talk with someone, and you stumble onto something you both love. Maybe it’s “Yeah, I’ve seen like every episode of SNL” or perhaps you discover that your wife is one of the couple hundred people in the entire world who would understand what a grenade can do to your hearing, but either way, it opens up a beautiful channel of communication that you can build from.

On the matter of Jolie being her amazing sexy self (any “Hottest 100” list that doesn’t have her at the top is a joke – sorry, Eva, but you’re out of your league), it’s amazing how little she has to try to look so damn amazing. She wears the S&M dominator costume you see in the trailers, which would be Rex Van Dee Kamp’s ultimate fantasy, I could assume. She wears the black dress from the posters, and doesn’t disappoint. At one point in time, she just wears a white dress shirt, ala Risky Business, for about twenty minutes, and yeah, it’s about as awesome as you could imagine.

So as you can tell, I really liked this movie, but I’m not sure if I loved it. I think I hyped it up to myself too much, because there isn’t one clearly fatal flaw I can point out, I can just tell you it’s a little bit off. Is it still worth your time? Absolutely. Still a fun summer movie? No question. But is it one of the greats? No way, no how, but very few are.

Definitely worth your time.

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