Mr. & Mrs. Smith
starring Brad itt, Angelina Jolie, Vince Vaughn, Adam Brody, Kerry Washington and Mike McCaul
as Bill the Neighbor
written by Simon Kinberg
directed by Doug Limon
This is a comedy-action movie. More action than comedy, but the comedy entirely surrounds the parody of married suburban life that is central to the two star characters, and for that reason is extremely recognizable. Mr. and Mrs. Smith have been married for six years and lying to each other all the time about who they really are, like Arnold Schwarzenegger lying to Jamie Lee Curtis in True Lies (1994). But whereas Schwarzenegger was a U.S. federal government agent, or spy, in True Lies, in this movie both John and Jane Smith are assassins working for private companies. And, unknown to each other, they work for rival companies. But then by chance they both work on the same hit and discover their real identities, after which the film becomes a challenge for each to kill the other - the dream of many long-term married couples, I suppose.
But it turns out that their love is real after all, and neither can carry through with killing the other when they have the change. Their mutually-destroying attempts, however, give us a lot of action and construct a metaphor for the trials of married life in the suburbs. When it becomes apparent that they are not killing each other, though, their respective agencies put contracts out on them and the entire assassin community descends in a shootout when the two are cornered in a fashionable home hardware/utility store. The final big shootout scene in the shopping mall reminded me of the last scene of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (Paul Newman and Robert Redford), in which Butch and Sundance were, presumably, gunned down by an overwhelming and inescapable number of Bolivian troops shooting from elevated positions. I worried that that’s how John and Jane Smith would end. And you know what? You’ll have to watch it to see.
I didn’t really care for the stereotypic boy-girl rivalry and the piercing, malicious and typically feminine ridicule Jane pours on John to hurt him every chance she gets. I know it was used as a (cute) parody and comedic device, but I harbor an unhealed sore spot for those aspects of gender relationships and I don’t like seeing them used as comedic currency.
I loved Vince Vaughn, and I have come to like him more and more with each movie of his I see. I also really liked Mike McCaul as “Bill the Neighbor,” John and Jane Smith’s dorky-suburban-white-guy, across-the-street neighbor.