Leaving the theater this weekend after screening FOX's new comic thriller Mr. and Mrs. Smith, my friend, Sean, and I had the following dialogue.
Barb: Well, that was absolutely ridiculous.
Sean: But, that's okay sometimes, isn't it? I had fun.
Barb: Yeah, me too. It is the kind of thing Hollywood does really well, that makes European film afficionados act snotty to me when I go over there for talks. It's a worthless piece.....what kind of food would you say that movie was like?
Sean: It was a chocolate truffle.
Barb: I think of truffle as being something a bit more luxuriant and beautiful in itself.
Sean: It was a truffle.
Barb: I think it is more of a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup.
Sean: And it's not like there is anything wrong with that kind of movie?
Barb: Well, not for pagans to make....For Christians, I think it would be pretty inexcusable.
Barb: Because, there are movies that we alone can make. So, we can't waste our time making junk food that anybody can make.
Sean: I think we could have made this film, but, scene by scene, it would show a difference. So, we would hold on the baby moment.
(For those who didn't make up the $51 million audience this weekend, there was the beginning of a touching scene in which the woman of the estranged lead couple, Angelina Jolie, is awkwardly holding a friend's infant. Her husband, Brad Pitt, spots her, and they have a two second moment of, "Should this be us?" But, then, the movie backs out quickly, almost embarrassed that it accidentally almost became about something there for a second.)
Barb: Exactly. If we made that movie, we would be more interested in the marriage issues than the shoot-em-up sequences. We would be more interested in showing how real love makes being an assassin by profession impossible. Then, I think it would be okay for us to do.
I have this discussion annually with every new class of Act One students. There are always those who develop a mounting visceral hostility to the program's insistence, that they should be committed to producing work that will be, in some way, good for the audience. There are always a few students who resent that idea, as though it was some burden they shouldn't have to assume.
"I don't want to make movies for other people. I want to make them for myself" they tell me. Or, "Who says Christians can make stupid comedies, or theme park ride kind of movies as long as they don't hurt people?"
I always tell them, "As soon as we have the cultural momentum back, then, we can aford to frit away our filmmaking efforts in mindless, valueless, idiotic self-indulgence. But, right now, there are enough people aspiring to produce that latter, but very few people aspiring to create work that will heal and help. I don't see us having the luxury of wasting our projects right now. Ask me again in a decade or so.
Anyway, Mr. and Mrs. Smith is vacuous and silly, but fun to watch mainly for the gadgetry, and the undeniable chemistry between the two leads. They are beuatiful talented actors - especially Jolie, who can communicate volumes in one raised eyebrow. It's very violent, but not in a gory way. I can't give it thumbs-up, but I won't pan it either. If you want a couple laughs and two hours of stylish escapism, catch Mr. and Mrs. Smith.