The eyes of the world would not be trained upon Namibia right now, breathlessly awaiting the birth of a child, were it not for director Doug Liman's Mr. & Mrs. Smith. It's during the filming of this edgy rom-com/spy thriller fusion that Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie met and fell in love, smashing Pitt's marriage to Jennifer Aniston into the proverbial million little pieces – you'll have to forgive the massive irony of this tabloid-ready twist happening during the making of what is billed by screenwriter Simon Kinberg as a film that's "50 percent Nora Ephron."
Despite all of the behind-the-scenes shenanigans, Mr. & Mrs. Smith manages to be one hell of a lot of fun – maybe it's the latent 13-year-old in me, but Liman's almost fetishistic fascination with spy gadgetry, gargantuan explosions, balletic action and serpentine intrigue more than makes up for Kinberg's screenplay and its reliance upon plot holes large enough to comfortably navigate a Sherman tank through. Oh, and the palpable Pitt/Jolie chemistry which threatens to smolder right through the screen – that alone makes Mr. & Mrs. Smith worth checking out at least once. I'll skip summarizing the plot (for that, check out my colleague Scott Weinberg's review of Mr. & Mrs. Smith) and will instead address the changes, revisions and additions to the film.
Ninety-nine percent of you are probably wondering whether either star shows any skin beyond what's on display in the theatrical cut; I hate to the bearer of bad news, but most of Liman's changes here are minor extensions, additions and barely noticeable alterations to what you saw in theaters. (The infamous sex scene features the briefest flash of Pitt/Jolie flesh, but a few saucier positions that would've earned the film an R.) The theatrical cut ran two hours and this unrated cut runs a whopping five minutes longer – Liman explains in his solo commentary track that the only reason this unrated cut exists (although Liman continually refers to this version as the "director's cut") is that 20th Century Fox wasn't keen on putting Mr. & Mrs. Smith through the preview process, in part to due to the high profile of Pitt and Jolie, as well as the thicket of rumors flying around the production. There aren't any wholesale changes – the penultimate fight in the Smith house is a little longer, the seductive Bogota dance goes on for a few more seconds, Vince Vaughn has a few extended monologues – but rather subtle tweaks.
Do these changes make Mr. & Mrs. Smith a better film? Well, if you didn't really care for the PG-13 cut, nothing included here is going to win you over; if anything, you'll like it even less. Even for fans, the decision to double-dip will be a tricky one – much of what's on the initial DVD release (in terms of supplemental material) hasn't been ported over and the changes aren't drastic enough to make this a radically different work. It's a toss-up that depends entirely upon whether you're sick of Pitt/Jolie mania – maybe that and how often you plan on devouring this funny, frenetic and sexy thriller. The DVD
As with the initial DVD release, Mr. & Mrs. Smith sports a pristine 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer – flawless and crystal clear, there's not a defect to be found. From arid desert to rain-swept night, the image is superb throughout, highlighting Bojan Bazelli's slick cinematography. The Audio:
Much like the crisp visuals from Mr. & Mrs. Smith DVD version 1.0, the wonderfully rich soundtracks have also made the jump to this two-disc, unrated set: Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS 5.1 are the surround tracks, with DTS edging out the Dolby Digital track in terms of clarity, warmth and bombast. Your speakers will thank you for the workout they receive during Liman's kinetic action sequences; French 2.0 and Spanish 2.0 tracks are included, as are English and Spanish subtitles. The Extras:
Die-hard Mr. & Mrs. Smith fans will want to hang onto the initial DVD release – the trio of commentaries (from Liman and Kinberg, producers Akiva Goldsman and Lucas Foster and editor Michael Tronick, production designer Jeff Mann and effects supervisor Kevin Elam) aren't here and neither are the three deleted scenes ("John & Eddie In The Kitchen," "House Cleaning" and "HomeMade Store Shootout") nor the eight-minute "Fox Movie Channel: Making A Scene" featurette or the Mr. & Mrs. Smith theatrical teaser and trailer.
The unrated cut arrives on DVD as a two-disc set. The first disc, somewhat annoying titled "Mr. Smith" (complete with a animated tie-rack menu), houses the "director's cut" of Mr. & Mrs. Smith and features a brand-new Liman commentary, on which the director flies solo, pointing out the changes and explaining the nuts and bolts of making a massive summer studio film (interestingly, he cites this film and Go as the two works he's most proud of). It's a dense listen and worth sifting through.
The second disc, titled (you guessed it!) "Mrs. Smith," houses the bulk of the special features, all of which are newly created for this set. Under the heading "Confidential Files" are 11 deleted scenes and an alternate ending, playable separately or together (for an aggregate of 15 minutes, 50 seconds) in anamorphic widescreen. Also found here is a screenplay excerpt of the original ending and a three minute, 40 second gag reel. "Domestic Violence: Shooting Mr. & Mrs. Smith" is a 33-minute making-of featurette presented in anamorphic widescreen that includes interviews with Kinberg, Goldsman, Liman, Jolie, Mann and copious amounts of on-set footage and multiple angles. Final Thoughts:
The heading "Doug's Film School" houses seven separate featurettes:
"Framing Device," six minutes: Detailing the abandoned concept of having Adam Brody's character, Benjamin Danz, serve as the film's narrator; unused scenes are included.
"Mother and Father," 10 minutes: Terence Stamp and Jacqueline Bisset were originally slated to play the villains of the film - when re-writes drastically altered the roles of the baddies, Liman elected to re-shoot a few scenes using Keith David and Angela Bassett as the heavies (whose roles aren't greatly expanded in the film, but are in these scenes).
"Snowy Ravine," 19 minutes: As originally scripted, the desert/rocket launcher sequence was supposed to transpire in a, well, snowy ravine; this featurette details the re-writes and changes that resulted in the finished film's sequence.
"Hood Jump," three minutes, 40 seconds: Detailing a specific, unused scene in the film, with a screenplay excerpt.
"Underground Garage," three minutes, 55 seconds: Detailing a specific, unused scene in the film, with a screenplay excerpt.
"HomeMade," 11 minutes, 48 seconds: Outlining the various aspects of the film's climactic shoot-out in the home improvement store, with a screenplay excerpt.
"Previsualizations," seven minutes, 44 seconds: Playable separately or together, these seven pre-viz sequences detail the creation of several elaborate set-pieces that (in some cases) never made it past this stage – "Meeting In Bogota," "Roof Bag Trick," "Poker Game," "Snowy Ravine," "Elevator Shaft," "House Collapse" and "Mini-Van Chase."
Rounding out the second disc are three photo galleries – shots taken by Liman, shots taken by producer Lucas Foster and shots taken by the film's crew.
Were it not for Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie falling madly in love and captivating the world with their relationship, Mr. & Mrs. Smith would still have value – it's a kicky fusion of biting romantic comedy and gadget-mad spy thriller that stands above most brainless summertime fare thanks to the barely contained charisma of those two gorgeous human beings. It's a tough call for those on the fence about picking up this unrated cut – I'll give it a recommendation, but those uncertain would do well to rent first.