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By Clint Morris | June 11, 2005

If “Mr and Mrs Smith” were a student, it’d be one whose done horribly most of the year – everything from bombing out on assignments, pop-quizzes and not completing homework– and then, when it matters most, at exam time, tops the class with some astonishing results. Doug Liman’s film is just as much a turn-around. A seemingly out-of-control roller coaster in production – rumored spats between the co-stars and director, whispered re-shoots and re-writes, the list is as long as Paris Hilton’s teledex – it’s near the exact opposite of what most of us were expecting. But folks, seriously, even without a plot, how hard would’ve it been to watch two of the sexiest stars in the world frolic about in their undergarments and c**k silencer-adorned guns for a couple of hours?

Thankfully, Liman’s film is not the equivalent of a piece of stale cheesecake – all look, no taste – because the script’s as tight as a scout-tied noose. This may very well be the first time that a movie’s publicity – anyone else sick of the Brad and Angie rumors? – Hasn’t been more entertaining than the film itself.

A mish-mash of James Cameron’s “True Lies”, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger as a family man hiding his job as a top spy from his wife and daughter, and the first ten minutes of Robert Rodriguez’s “Spy Kids” (the opening sequence where the Spy parents discover they’re both undercover spies), “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” is a comedy with a fat dose of action, with one helluva familiar template.

When Jane and John Smith (Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt) discover that they’re both secretly working as assassins, they’re faced with quite a quandary: eliminate the other party or risk frying themselves. Who’s going to be able to outsmart the other? Will Jolie’s over-bloated lips be too much for the besotted hubby? Is either of them really ready to slay their spouse?

As he proved with The Bourne Identity, director Doug Liman can devise an enjoyable little action movie, and though this is a drastically less serious film, he’s still done wonders with it. On paper, Simon Kinberg’s script probably didn’t read like much – he did, after all, write it in college many years ago, way before he tread into the training ground – and, well, it still isn’t much more than a cute yarn with obvious similarities to a couple of other flicks from years gone by, but seems Liman’s turned bronze into silver here.

In addition to the fine directing, tight editing and welcomely kinetic camerawork are two incontestably rousing performances. Pitt, having more fun than we’ve ever seen him have, is an absolute blast, while Jolie’s having an equal amount of fun – and looking darn fine to boot. This girl is hotter than a freshly steamed dim-sim.

Together, Pitt and Jolie make a sexy and irresistible duo and seem just as comfortable with the continuously jerky character dynamics as they are the eternal moments of action.

In smaller roles, TV favorite Adam Brody (Seth from “The OC”) plays the very Cohen-esque role of a slightly whiny and wormy hit, and the dependable Vince Vaughn plays it for laughs – even more so than Brody – as John’s best friend and co-worker, a slacker who lives with his mother and eggs his pal on to pop a slug in his bothersome spouse.

“Mr and Mrs Smith” starts to run out of gas near the end, but for the most part, it’s a film with enough snap, crackle and pop to keep the gob of any sceptic shut for a couple of hours – even if, at times, it’s merely Jolie in a scant leotard that’s causing the diversion.

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