Friday, May 16, 2014

My Favorite Guilty Pleasure Movie: Mr. and Mrs. Smith [Spoilers]

We all have them: the movie that you know deep down is no good for you.  You know; that movie that is fun to watch but has a very small to nonexistent moral center.  You find yourself on the one hand kicking yourself for even watching said movie, and on the other enjoying it way too much, enough so that you watch it again and again.  You try to list those redeeming qualities about it and instead list the terrible things in it that you actually like.  Everyone has such a movie.  One of those movies for me is Mr. and Mrs. Smith.
For those who don’t know, Mr. and Mrs. Smith focuses on a male assassin who becomes attracted to and marries a female assassin.  The twist is that Mr. Smith doesn't know that Mrs. Smith is an assassin, and Mrs. Smith doesn't know that Mr. Smith also has the same job as her.  The story is what happens as they begin to find out what their spouse does for a living. 

Near the beginning of the movie, they meet in South America, with Mrs. Smith on the run from somebody, we never find out who it is.  That’s the first problem with the movie.  There is no clear villain.  [Spoiler:] Later on in the movie, we find out that both of the companies that Mr. Smith and Mrs. Smith work for pitted Mr. Smith and Mrs. Smith against each other because “they were a liability” or something like that.  But we never find out who is at the top of the either organization.  That is never resolved.  So the people that Mrs. Smith is running from and the heads of the organization are basically unexplained ghosts.  Not that it really matters, though.  The movie is edited in such a way that you don’t care while watching it.

Also, that two people could be married for five (or six) whole years and not figure out what the other does for a living is preposterous.  Wouldn't the cracks start to show way earlier?  In any case, the very first scene of the movie is the two at a psychiatrist’s office trying to figure out why they have a lifeless marriage.  But of course, the fun is watching them slowly figure out who the other is and start to test their partner.  In one scene, Mr. Smith had just started to suspect that Mrs. Smith might be an assassin.  He comes home to dinner to find a nice meal on the table.  The tension arises in the scene because he thinks she might have poisoned the meal while she is trying to figure out why he is acting so suspicious.  It’s a well done scene that has the right balance of tension and comedy.  The scene ends with Mr. Smith intentionally dropping a bottle of wine beside Mrs. Smith – and his wife reflexively catching the bottle before it hits the ground.  There is a split second scene where both look at each other, realizing for the first time who the other is – and then immediately excuse themselves to run away from each other.

The middle part is the part that is shown in the trailers, that of the assassins attempting to kill each other, despite being married to each other.  The action is way over the top, especially the final fight in the house, but it so well choreographed that we don’t care.  Part of the guilty pleasure fun of the movie is watching a couple literally try to kill each other.  The guys want the guy to win and the girls want the girl to win, but part of us wants them to fight but then get back together.  Ultimately, that is what makes Mr. and Mrs. Smith so enjoyable – watching the couple fight, but then work past their problems and then survive the assassin organizations trying to take them down.  The last scene, with Mr. and Mrs. Smith in a department store working in sync with each other as nameless bad guys keep coming again and again to take them down, is a thing of beauty.  It’s an unrealistic thing of beauty, however.  With so many people trying to gun them down, the fact that the couple hadn't already died is a mystery. 


All of these elements put together give Mr. and Mrs. Smith it’s unique, uh, “charm,” which keeps me coming back to it again and again.  It's a fun romantic action-comedy movie and I enjoy watching it...so stop making fun of me!  You know you watch it too! 

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