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With: Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Vince Vaughn, Kerry Washington
Written by: Simon Kinberg
Directed by: Doug Liman
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sequences of violence, intense action, sexual content and brief strong language
Running Time: 115
Date: 06/07/2005

Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Marriage Pows

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Married couples are not often depicted in movies, or at least not in funmovies. Usually they're represented in heavy dramas about disease ordivorce, or as the clueless parents to spectacularly witty teenagers.The Thin Man (1934) still stands as the 70 year-old pinnacle, and thoughDoug Liman's Mr. & Mrs. Smith is not nearly that good, it's enough funthat it may become a favorite of husbands and wives in years to come.

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie star as John and Jane Smith. Each works as a super spy for rival organizations, unbeknownst to each other. They have built a five or six-year marriage based on lies, each convincing the other that their sudden disappearances are for good reasons.

But when both spies show up to do the same hit, they bungle the job and each becomes the other's target.

Admittedly, the plot leaves a bit to be desired, and has more than its share of holes. But Pitt and Jolie, who are onscreen all the time, generate a super-powered chemistry together that makes you wonder why no one has teamed them up before. Their relationship, both unspoken and in bickering terms, is delightfully genuine. It actually gets the feel of the shorthand that married couples might use.

The script is by Simon Kinberg, who worked as a script doctor on such universally hated films as Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle and Elektra and took credit for XXX: State of the Union. It's difficult to reconcile the film's silly plot with its sophisticated dialogue -- especially because Pitt and Jolie make it seem as if they've simply made it up on the spot.

And they very well may have. Pitt in particular has become a terrific comic actor, a kind of sad-eyed goofball with an air of confidence. He has several throwaway moments, like saying hello to a neighbor while carefully trying to break into his own house, or enjoying some of the century's worst pop music, making you giggle in spite of whatever's going on in the plot.

Jolie does her stuff with expert skill and confidence; it's the kind of role that suits her, and it's far more intelligent than her Lara Croft movies. Unfortunately, the audience tends to root for Pitt's character, simply because Jolie's killer, controlling female obviously has the upper hand (not unlike Kathleen Turner's character in The War of the Roses.)

Director Liman delivers his fourth film as yet another solid entertainment, neither masterly nor clumsy. Like Swingers, Go and The Bourne Identity, the film flows at a breezy clip. It has more than its share of explosions, but Liman handles them well, giving us the occasional breather in-between and keeping the action fairly clear and easy to follow.

Most reviewers will probably mention the off-screen romance between Pitt and Jolie, but I don't care about such things. Their onscreen romance, however, is something to sing about.

DVD Details: I don't care what anyone thinks; I watched this a second time and really enjoyed myself. Fox's DVD comes with various commentary tracks, one by director Liman and screenwriter Kinberg, and another by the producers, plus some great deleted scenes, a brief featurette and a trailer for 2006's The Sentinal.

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