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such a nasty woman | by maryann johanson

Mr. & Mrs. Smith (review)

Sparks and Punches and Bullets Fly

Oh my god could this be any more delicious? It’s hot and sexy and stuff blows up real good and there’s genuine wit and smarts and luscious allowance for the mysteries of lusty attraction and even lustier strife between men and women and did I mention it’s hot and sexy even though there’s hardly any actual sex worth mentioning actually in the movie?

Some moron on the IMDB is complaining that that’s a serious drawback to the film, that there’s no nude sex in it, but no: that’s exactly why it’s so perfect. (Not that I won’t watch the R-rated DVD — or, god willing, the NC-17-rated DVD, should we be so lucky.) What makes Mr. & Mrs. Smith so incredibly yummy is that it’s all about how the brain is the most potent sex organ, how it’s what goes on in our imaginations, not what we look like, that turns us on.
*sigh* It’s like Hollywood finally gets it, that movies for grownups can be wild and fun and clever and toe-curlingly seductive and don’t have to be about someone dying of cancer or triumphing over cancer or trying to cure cancer even though they were born a poor black child in the Great Depression. It’s like, holy crap, we’re the grownups now, we kids who grew up on Die Hard and Moonlighting* and finally brought them together in one package that combines everything we love, and it could only be better if there were lightsabers or hobbits in it.

But snark and car chases and love-me/hate-me/oh-my-god-fuck-me attitude will do very nicely, thank you very much. I think director Doug Liman (The Bourne Identity, Go) and screenwriter Simon Kinberg (I can’t believe his last credit was the moronic XXX: State of the Union) have invented the screwball action movie, and it’s about time someone did. Transport a 1940s “sex” comedy up to the 21st century and this is what you get, like if you gave Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn semiautomatic weapons and a license to kill and kept all the snarling romantic byplay and the chemistry that makes you want to take both of them to bed. Man, I don’t even like Angelina Jolie, and I’d totally do her in this film, even though she’s so rather terrifyingly skinny you can’t help but be afraid her pointy elbow might put your eye out or something in the heat of passion. And even though I don’t get the current fashion for those Marine buzzcuts all the supposedly fashionable guys are sporting these days, I gotta admit that Brad Pitt completely turned me on here.

But that’s my point: they’re both funny and smart and all that other good stuff that has nothing to do with the fact that some people think they’re the sexiest people on the planet… by which they mean the most physically appealing full stop. And together… ho boy. It’s a wonder the film doesn’t burn up in the projector, they’re so hot with anger and rage and fiery sexual passion for each other. (I believe there’s a huge distinction between onscreen chemistry and real-life chemistry — I don’t think they always, or even ever, coincide — but if I’m wrong, then poor Jennifer “Mrs. Pitt” Aniston” never stood a chance.) If you’ve seen the trailer — and I don’t see how you could have avoided it, or the ubiquitous TV ads — then you know that Jolie (Alexander, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow) and Pitt (Ocean’s Twelve, Troy) are a married couple who are secretly assassins working for rival groups, and they end up being each other’s newest assignment, and neither of them ever even knew the other’s secret. The film kinda doesn’t make it clear whether they’re employed by government agencies working within black-ops law or whether they’re just hired killers, but it doesn’t matter: they’re dangerous and cool and competent and madly in love with each other, though they’ve forgotten it, let complacency and boredom and routine creep into their marriage. And so this assignment to kill each other — and all the felonious assault and weapons fire that goes along with that — is merely a huge honking metaphor for the things that even longtime married couples hide from each other, for the spark that disappears from long-term relationships, for the excitement of discovering something new and thrilling about your partner can ignite.

But what the hell do I know? I’ve never been married, and I probably never will be. Because I’m a dynamic woman with too much personality for own good who wants the kind of man who can give as good as he’d get from me, and frankly, I’ve yet to run into one. I’m not sure that actually blowing up the house is quite the kind of explosiveness I’m looking for in a relationship, even if it serves the Smiths very well, but I need that on a metaphoric level. And at least I can find that at the movies… it’s too bad Mr. Smith is taken. And fictional.

*Oh man, is there a Bruce Willis effect at work here? Must we Generation Xers all consider Bruce our snarky father-in-spirit? Cuz I’d be all for that… except I’d still want to do nasty/sexy things to him, even if he is my father-in-spirit…

MPAA: rated PG-13 for sequences of violence, intense action, sexual content and brief strong language

viewed at a semipublic screening with an audience of critics and ordinary moviegoers

official site | IMDb
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