A great deal of carnage, of both the physical and emotional varieties, takes place in Doug Liman’s Mr. and Mrs. Smith, a high-concept commentary on the state of modern marriage. The offscreen shenanigans of the film’s two stars, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, have overshadowed the film itself, so much so that the whole affair has taken on a sense of the anti-climactic. And yet the two stars make the film bearable, generating a palpable sense of chemistry in addition to a genuine aura of violence and sexuality. These qualities help keep the film grounded as the stars provide enough of a hook to keep us interested, even when the script, by Simon Kinberg, ultimately spins wildly out of control.
Marrying on impulse after meeting in a highly charged atmosphere and sprinting through a brief courtship, John and Jane Smith (Pitt and Jolie) find that their marriage has hit an impasse. Bored with the suburban lifestyle they’ve adopted, the Smiths are on the road to ruin as they begin to realize that they have very little in common and that each would prefer to be at work rather than at home. What they don’t realize is that they are both skilled assassins, employed by rival shadow organizations. As fate — and a desperate screenwriter — would have it, Jane and John wind up assigned to take out the same target, a job that they both botch spectacularly. Jane’s superior instructs her to clean up all loose ends on the job — including her husband.
The setup here is elaborate, and it skirts tedium. The strained relationship between the Smiths provides some humorous moments, and the wry humor employed by Pitt and Jolie as they off their targets proves witty and enjoyable. (Don’t worry — Kinberg makes sure we know that the Smiths’ victims are really bad people so that we don’t feel too bad when they’re dispatched.) The film kicks into high gear when the Smiths’ true identities are revealed to one another and years’ worth of pent-up rage is let loose by both parties. The violence the Smiths unleash on each other is a grand fantasy that long-married couples will understand.
Also in theaters. . .
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High Tension [R] Two college coeds take a trip to the country to study for final exams in “peace.” But, when an unexpected stranger knocks on the front door, the pleasant outing turns ugly. Parkway Pointe
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Madagascar [PG] Animated comedy about a lion (voice of Ben Stiller), a zebra (Chris Rock), a giraffe (David Schwimmer), and a hippo (Jada Pinkett Smith). When one goes missing from the zoo, the other three break free, and learn what it’s like to live in the wild. Parkway Pointe, ShowPlace East, Route 66 Drive In
The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants [PG] Four girlfriends plan to stay connected to each other by passing around a pair of secondhand jeans that fits each perfectly. Parkway Pointe, ShowPlace East