The movie may have been a blip in cinema history, drowned out by the noise of the drama unfolding around it off screen, but Mr. and Mrs. Smith deserves a closer look. Most people associate the movie with the biggest tabloid story of the 21st century, in which the man-eating Angelina Jolie stole Brad Pitt from America’s sweetheart Jennifer Aniston, breaking up Hollywood’s golden couple. For those of us who are actual fans (of which I’m sure there are dozens!), we see past all the gossip. To me, personally, it’s also so much more than an action-comedy starring the world’s most beautiful man and woman. When you look closely, Mr. and Mrs. Smith is actually a brilliant satire. Hear me out. Here are three reasons why it deserves to be remembered beyond Team Jolie and Team Aniston.
Satire on Suburban Life
There are so many great juxtapositions between the protagonists’ secret assassin identities and their mundane suburban lives. The Smiths’ shiny, deluxe, state-of-the-art kitchen appliances are used to house and hide shelves of Jane’s (Jolie) shiny, deluxe, state-of-the-art deadly weapons. Jane uses her martial arts skills to balance precariously on a chair while fixing the curtains. John (Pitt) invites his neighbor Bob over for the first time in the midst of his fight death match with his wife, and they talk golf trophies as John scans the house for his assassin spouse. The Smiths escape their own assassins in the film’s action-packed car chase scene in a minivan, taking advantage of the vehicle’s functional features (an assassin hops into the van and John sends him flying out with the “handy” sliding door) and swerving and shooting out of it like it was Bond’s Aston Martin.
A Refreshing Take on Being a Hitman
Besides satirizing suburban life in the most unique way I’ve seen in film, Mr. and Mrs. Smith is also a satire on assassinating as a corporate profession. Ben (Adam Brody) is a new hire, an entry-level assassin who acts as if he’s a young hot shot at an advertising firm. After his first violent confrontation, he asks a senior colleague if they “get dental.” When rival assassins are sent to take out the Smiths, John runs one over with his — what else? — minivan and quips, “F*ckers get younger every year.” In one of the funniest exchanges between the married couple, John is curious to know Jane’s “number” (in this case, her number of kills), and as he starts to humbly brag about his number being in the high 50s, low 60s, she blurts out “312.” He’s shocked, disgusted, and humiliated. Everybody loves a double entendre, right? And Pitt kills it with his subtle yet spot-on reaction.
Truly Worthy Adversaries
In most assassin/spy/secret agent movies, when the man (and it’s always the man) reveals his true identity, the woman freaks out (she always freaks out). Not only does Jane not freak out, but she has a secret of her own to reveal — that she’s actually a more successful version of her husband’s secret identity. When the two ultimately fight each other to the death, the sequence is well-balanced, with each side getting in as many shots and hits, and full of humor, with “Who’s your daddy” jokes sprinkled in. In a twisted way, their fight is the first time they make passionate physical contact as a couple. When John gives Jane the chance to kill him, she doesn’t take it, and instead, decides to fight on her husband’s side, the film’s way of saying they’re going to work on their marriage. We need more Jane Smiths in film — women who are strong, smart, and physically capable not out of vengeance or after some transformation, but just because.