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'Mr. and Mrs. Smith' Is Just Summer Fun


There is at least one place where the sexes are equal. Angelina Jolie proves she's just as good at being an assassin as Brad Pitt in Hollywood's new movie, "Mr. and Mrs. Smith." The film's advertisements have been everywhere, as has speculation about a reported off-screen romance between the stars. Does the movie live up to the hype? Here's our critic, Bob Mondello.

BOB MONDELLO reporting:

You already know the basic premise of "Mr. and Mrs. Smith"--married assassins who've somehow managed to keep from each other that they are assassins. Mrs. Smith thinks her husband works in construction, Mr. Smith thinks his wife programs computers, and their marriage is all about buying new curtains and trying new recipes until they discover that they are, in fact, working for rival hit squads, at which point things heat up somewhat.

(Soundbite of "Mr. and Mrs. Smith")

(Soundbite of gunfire)

Ms. ANGELINA JOLIE: (As Jane Smith) You still alive, baby?

MONDELLO: Of course he is. There wouldn't be a movie if he wasn't.

(Soundbite of "Mr. and Mrs. Smith")

(Soundbite of gunfire)

MONDELLO: The film's marital discord story line seems designed to appeal to the unmarried, especially the prime summer movie audience, 18- to 24-year-olds who can still imagine their own lives and maybe their own bodies taking on the contours they see on screen. An older crowd is going to find things less plausible, but the filmmakers have provided something for them too, some serious home furnishing carnage. For highly paid assassins, "Mr. and Mrs. Smith" don't shoot very straight, but those stray bullets do quite a demolition job on their kitchen. Wait'll you see what a semiautomatic with an unlimited ammo clip can do to a stainless steel refrigerator.

(Soundbite of "Mrs. and Mrs. Smith")

Mr. BRAD PITT: (As John Smith) Your aim's as bad as your cooking, sweetheart.

(Soundbite of gunfire)

MONDELLO: Apart from being just as relentless as it sounds, this is all very liberating apparently, because once there's shattered glass and splinters everywhere, the two stars can't resist rolling around amorously. Their sex life was terrible when they were hiding their guns under floorboards and in cleverly camouflaged ovens. But it gets much better once they've trashed the place. It's at about this point that they turn their joint attention to the folks who still want them dead by bantering away while leading other assassins on a merry highway chase in a neighbor's minivan.

(Soundbite of "Mr. and Mrs. Smith")

Mr. PITT: (As John Smith) You know, I should probably tell--I was married once before.

(Soundbite of a speeding vehicle and gunfire)

Ms. JOLIE: (As Jane Smith) What's her name and Social Security number?

Mr. PITT: (As John Smith) No, you're not going to kill her.

MONDELLO: Here again, the screenplay makes them shoppers just like the rest of us with Mrs. Smith establishing that the minivan has fine road-handling and stability, while Mr. Smith tests the options package by tossing an attacker right through the rear seating.

(Soundbite of "Mr. and Mrs. Smith")

Mr. PITT: (As John Smith) Doors are handy.

MONDELLO: Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie hardly qualify as a latter-day William Powell and Myrna Loy, but they handle the Nick and Nora Charles-style zingers with enough snap that you can generally tell they're zingers. And their tan, buff, photogenic selves certainly are easy on the eyes, especially in close-ups when their lips are the size of throw pillows. Simon Kinberg's screenplay isn't as long on logic as it is just plain long about getting to a climax that at least seems appropriate for a movie so besotted with consumer products--a shootout that trashes an entire home furnishing store. That allows the stars to toss around some very expensive knives in the kitchen department. Doug Liman's cheerfully breathless direction doesn't bother making products in the other departments lethal, but he may just be saving that for "Mr. and Mrs. Smith II: Renovations." The studio's accountants would no doubt be ecstatic--a franchise for the over-30 set, if, that is, they can get a sequel out before the housing bubble bursts. I'm Bob Mondello.

(Soundbite of music)

BLOCK: You're listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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Bob Mondello, who jokes that he was a jinx at the beginning of his critical career — hired to write for every small paper that ever folded in Washington, just as it was about to collapse — saw that jinx broken in 1984 when he came to NPR.