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Wednesday
Jun102015

Happy 10th Anniversary, Mr & Mrs Smith

Mr. & Mrs. Smith celebrates its tenth year anniversary today so in lieu of diamonds (which we hear is what's customary on this occasion), here's Manuel offering up some choice words about the lovely couple -- who knew they'd make it this long!? Or that it would take them another 10 years to co-star again (By the Sea, opening this November)


I remember it vividly. Some friends and I caught a weekend screening of Mr. & Mrs. Smith, the film that had brought two of Hollywood’s biggest stars together (yes, cinematically, but also, as it turned out, romantically). The gossip mags had gone insane but we were obviously more excited about the film itself which we’d heard was slick and enjoyable. This was peak charming Brad (Snatch, The Mexican, Ocean’s franchise) before we’d lose him to more highbrow fare that only sporadically allows him to slap on a smirk and a winking look. It was also a transitional moment for Jolie coming as it did after a string of artistic and commercial flops (Life of Something Like it, Sky Captain, Alexander) and reinvigorated her career as an action star beyond Lara Croft. In a way, it was lightning in a bottle...

No wonder it went on to gross almost $500 million worldwide, then a record for both stars.

The opening scene is, ten years on, a rather brilliant aping of reality TV confessional framing used to delineate the flailing marriage of the film’s title. How can such a static frame crackle with so much chemistry? More importantly, how did these two beautiful and charming people meet?

Inquiring minds want to know.

“It was in Colombia.”
“Bogotá. Five years ago.”
“Six.”
“Right. Five or six years ago.”

What follows almost made me walk out of the film altogether [Spoiler alert: I stayed and thoroughly enjoyed myself].

But today, on the film’s tenth anniversary, I wanted to return to that one scene in “Bogotá, Colombia.” It’s so sloppy even by Hollywood’s self-centered standards that looking back on it I’m surprised it made it into the film at all. This is what Bogotá looks like in the film:

If you knew nothing about Bogotá (full disclosure; that’s where I grew up) you probably nodded your head and sort of bought this image of the city as a tropical paradise afflicted by drug lords and militarized police. I’m not one to bark back against the one-dimensional take on Colombia that focuses solely on its drug and civil war; clearly that’s an unfortunate reality, though the film feels more at home depicting Medellin in the 80s than Bogotá in the 2000s.

More egregious is the film’s lack of understanding of Colombian geography. Any simple Google search would tell you that Bogotá is an urban center with almost 7 million people located in the Andes mountains and more prone to freezing thunderstorms than the sexy summer shower that greets Brad and Angie as they dance the night away. Their gorgeous white linen attire (not to mention the seemingly oppressive heat) suggest a beachside locale, something so far from Bogotá that this blip of a scene haunts me to this day, so appalled I was by its flagrant ignorance.

It’s as if I decided to set a film in Chicago in the 1950s  but shot it in Miami and populated it with Al Capone. It’s all just off.

For those of us who didn’t grow up in the US, the experience is a familiar one. Heck, since moving to New York, I sometimes can’t even stomach the made-up geography of the New York City-set but soundstage-shot sitcoms! It may seem like such a small detail but whenever I think of the film it is the only thing that comes to mind. Which is crazy because its action sequences are ace, its mix of sex and comedy is perfect, and its conceit a fascinating blockbuster riposte to Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

Have you ever had a small detail like this one diminish your appreciation for a film that otherwise enthralled you?

 What’s the thing you remember the most about Brad and Angie’s film?

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Reader Comments (18)

I think we need to the orignal cut.

June 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterMARK

When it comes to marital hitman/woman hijinks, I prefer "Prizzi's Honor."

June 10, 2015 | Unregistered Commenterrick gould

rick gould: But Prizzi's Honour is SO SLOPPY, especially in the ending. They set up Kathleen Turner's character as this expert shot and then, without Jack's character doing ANYTHING to throw off her aim OR even rekindle the spark, she misses at POINT BLANK RANGE. And in such a plot oriented movie, you can't really do that. Mr. and Mrs. Smith doesn't have a moment like that so, for me, it wins almost by default. (Prizzi's Honour: C. Mr. and Mrs. Smith: B-.)

June 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

Horrible film, i mean, best looking couple ever can't help the fack the film is empty, c'est la vie! Waste of time. And yes please, take to the first place in Bogota that has fans on the ceiling, cus its just that hot! According to the all knowing hollywood eye! This is how stereotypes get created and reinforced. Thanks hollywood for making your fan mindless freaks!

June 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJulia Goolia

Oh boy, I prefer Prizzi's Honor to almost anything else.

June 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

The thing I remember most about this movie is that I wanted to see Batman Begins for like the 5th time (it came out June 15th!) but my friends insisted on seeing this instead. I still wish I had seen Batman Begins...

June 10, 2015 | Unregistered Commentercatbaskets

Yes, I remember seeing this too. There was a palpable excitement in the theater because of all the tabloid drama and the fact that two stars of this caliber were playing off each other.

June 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterBia

I also vividly remember seeing this in theaters. I was on vacation in Cabos (no really) and it was hot so we decided air conditioned movie and the tickets were so cheap and they sold scooped ice cream in the theater and the ice cream was cheap and delicious. Least expensive (and yummiest) blockbuster viewing ever.

i cannot wait for BY THE SEA. I've always loved these two, especially Brad.

June 10, 2015 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

I remember my married friend telling me that the reason I merely enjoyed without really getting it was because I wasn't married.

June 10, 2015 | Unregistered Commenterforever1267

The rumors, the movie, the sex appeal and the coolness. I loved it and saw it twice. Remembered that I was disappointed at first, during pre prod when Zeta-Jones and Blanchett were considered for the Jane role.

The movie is my guilty pleasure and always will be

June 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterManuel

What about the "I have a boat waiting to go to La Paz", that as stupid as the scene of Bogota.

June 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterMM

I love this movie unashamedly. It's smarter and funnier than it gets credit for and Brad & Angie are great together.

June 10, 2015 | Unregistered Commenterthefilmjunkie

I find their chemistry to be just amazing in this movie... every second of gunplay feels like it could turn instantly into ridiculously acrobatic sex.

But, on another note, literally EVERY depiction of my hometown and current town Washington DC gets it wrong. There is not one single accurate depiction of DC geography in film.

June 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterBilly

Nicole Kidman was cast originally or was at least the first choice for the Jane role (worth specifying since our Amazonian goddess could've played either part).

Anyway, I, too, saw Mr. and Mrs. Smith in the theater and enjoyed it immensely despite its (not insignificant) flaws. Doug Liman is a great action director, and Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie simply were made for each other. (And Jolie! How broad and cartoonish is she in those therapy sessions, behind-the-wheel and fight scenes?)

June 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterMareko

Their performances in this movie are among my favorites from them both. This minute, I most remember them standing in their underwear amidst the burning wreckage of their house.

I'm dreading By the Sea a little, because sometimes couples who had chemistry onscreen and then mated don't have it onscreen anymore. And Angelina ain't Doug Liman.

Interesting side-note: Mr & Mrs Smith (1941) is a Hitchcock (!) screwball comedy about a couple who find out their marriage isn't valid and By the Sea (1915) is a Chaplin short about marital chaos at a bathing resort.

June 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Outlaw

I'm used to American films representing Australia through one lens - a desert country full of drunks, but that doesn't upset me as much as bad Australian accents. Also, the last scene of POINT BREAK is set in Australia at Bells Beach - and it looks nothing like Bells Beach. Still, nowhere near as bad as Mr & Mrs Smith's take on Bogota.

June 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterKeith Gow

I kind of couple this into the category of action flicks that Jolie fell into instead of channeling her better dramatic side (like Gia or Girl Interrupted). This film isn't terrible...definitely entertaining, but I'd love to see them in something with more depth. Maybe By the Sea will fill this void? Great write-up!

June 11, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterCourtney

I was so oddly affected by this movie! I was 18 and thought Brad Pitt was so beautiful that it hurt -- and I was attracted to Angelina Jolie, too (but who wouldn't be?)

I later ordered the "Mr." poster from eBay and my freshman roommate in college agreed to help put it up for me if I helped him with his English paper, and that's when I knew the gay thing wouldn't be a problem.

June 11, 2015 | Unregistered Commenterjakey

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