A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this film features repeated and sustained violent scenes, involving guns, explosions, and knives. It's also worth noting that these scenes most often set husband against wife. Following one of these extended shoot-outs, they engage in mostly off-screen sex (some close-ups of limbs and lips serve as prelude). Husband and wife lie to each other, appear in therapy sessions, discuss their lack of intimacy. Jane wears dominatrix gear and wields a crop, just before she snaps her target's neck. John pees in the desert (back to camera). Characters smoke, drink, drive fast, crash, and deploy major weapons.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
MR. AND MRS. SMITH centers on married super-assassins John (Brad Pitt) and Jane (Angelina Jolie), who have no idea of each other's occupation. Jane thinks John is the head of a construction firm, while John thinks his wife is in finance. Their marriage is in a bit of a rut until both of them are hired to kill the same man. Amidst all the action, they learn that they share a high-tech, low-affect appreciation for controlled mayhem, which makes them ideal mates after all -- which helps when they join forces for a final shoot-out against their mutual enemies: their heartless corporate employers.
Is it any good?
Thinly plotted, over-actionated, and frankly preposterous, Mr. and Mrs. Smith is entertaining and even clever if you take it on its own terms. These would be: the premise is nonsense and the resolution is absurd. In between, you see the gorgeous Pitt and Jolie wrestle, argue, leap, dash, and shoot big guns at each other. Yet the movie offers two surprises. First, Brad Pitt can dance. And not only in the sense that he turns a decent tango with Jolie in a flashback scene, but also, more enchantingly, in his performances with inanimate objects, a la Fred Astaire or even Buster Keaton. Pitt leaps through hedges, flies over furniture, juggles a teacup in one scene and a large weapon in another.
Genre-mixing is the film's second good idea. Equally cocky and apprehensive, John and Jane pretend to be happily married (she buys dreadful draperies, he doesn't notice she's added peas to the dinner menu) even as they live separate lives (they hide their weapons stashes in gendered spaces, hers behind the oven, his in the basement).
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the extreme (and darkly comic) representation of workaholic partners and marital stress. How does the movie use a romantic comedy's basic structure (sparring couple, parallel confidantes, zany situations reframed as violence) in order to comment on the high-stress pace of contemporary, two-career marriages? How might John and Jane have avoided tensions by not deceiving one another to start with? What is exciting about keeping secrets? Why is it better to tell the truth?
- In theaters: June 10, 2005
- On DVD or streaming: November 29, 2005
- Cast: Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, Vince Vaughn
- Director: Doug Liman
- Studio: Twentieth Century Fox
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Run time: 112 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: sequences of violence, intense action, sexual content and brief strong language