You’d think that Hollywood would know better than to try to re-create a film so dependent on the singular steaminess of its leads—and yet, like most things you may adore from barely five iPhone generations ago, it has indeed been remade. The 2024 version of Mr. & Mrs. Smith is Donald Glover’s Mr. & Mrs. Smith, an Amazon Prime Video series that premieres on Friday, starring Glover as John and PEN15’s Maya Erskine as Jane. After a multiyear wait and the departure of Erskine’s predecessor, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, the only question on anyone’s mind remains: Is this Mr. & Mrs. Smith as sexy as the original?
Co-created by Glover and Francesca Sloane, who worked with Glover on Atlanta, the new Mr. & Mrs. Smith inverts the premise of the 2005 movie. Here, John and Jane are strangers until an agency pairs them up as work partners who must operate under the guise of marriage. You might be thinking that this plot is more reminiscent of the 1996 Mr. & Mrs. Smith television series starring Scott Bakula and Maria Bello—there are too many iterations of this story!— and, though you may be right, this is explicitly supposed to be a remake of the Brangelina film. There’s no question about it: By design and by the grace of its leads, the show can’t re-create the same sexual tension that was present in the movie. But that’s a good thing.
Glover and Erskine are attractive people, but it was always going to be a tall order for them—or anyone, for that matter—to be as alluring as Pitt and Angelina were in the mid-aughts. It wasn’t just their looks; between Jolie’s sultry voice and Pitt’s swagger, they radiated sensuality and temptation. Glover and Erskine—who are comedic actors, for one, rather than blockbuster movie stars—had no chance of delivering the effervescence of Brangelina. That’s a blessing; the last thing we need is another failed, one-to-one remake of something that we already have available on multiple streaming platforms (yes, even Tubi). Our new Smiths offer something else entirely: relatability, of the kind that you would find in a romantic comedy. The awkward charm they exude will have you assessing how alike you are to the characters, rather than how alike you’d wish to be.
What these new Smiths give us is an actual study in marriage, albeit under unusual circumstances. While 2005’s Smiths were hot for each other, these Smiths are still figuring out intimacy. From the setup alone, we know that John and Jane are going to fall for each other, rom-com-style, and assume an actual marriage, but what is so unexpectedly delightful is the tender way they get there. We watch this John and Jane take the baby steps of any romance, which involves highly domestic discussions about washing the dishes and making the tricky transition from sleeping in separate beds to sharing the same one. Glover and Erskine do have fantastic chemistry, and are even sexy at times, but their spark is most believable when they’re riffing off of each other or learning, as many early couples do, how to exist in the same space. One of the funniest—and most painfully relatable—scenes involves Jane being embarrassed about farting in her sleep. They ask each other about their worst traits and their pasts, and it’s a sign of their deepening relationship that their answers become less and less shrouded in covert mystery over time.
In the later episodes, the show more closely resembles the action and intrigue of the 2005 movie, but it takes marriage more seriously than the film ever did. Its exploration of why people get married and ponder what marriage even means is as exciting as an explosive shootout. The couple’s therapy sessions, peppered throughout the 2005 movie, are in the series consolidated into one full episode—with an exciting guest star as the therapist—in which John and Jane discuss their growing resentments. It’s a standout episode that will hit home to any long-term couple that has struggled, or to anyone who has borne witness to their parents’ deteriorating relationship. Over the course of however long they’ve been paired up—my biggest gripe with the show is that it’s never made clear how much time has passed—John and Jane’s mutual trust falters, they start feeling resentful over who gets credit for their successful missions, and oh god, now we have to have the big “having kids” discussion?
Glover and Erskine will win you over, even the most die-hard fans who still have those two hours of sultry, silly fun from 2005 playing on a loop in their brains. If you can just let go of that cultural touchstone, you’ll find that Glover and Erskine’s turn as the Smiths is something entirely different, and special in its own way. 2024’s Mrs. & Mrs. Smith is unafraid to be scathing to its main characters, to make you unsure if you like them, while they themselves are unsure if they even like each other anymore. But of course you do, and of course they do. It was inevitable, between their shared isolation from the outside world and the sexiness of the whole saving-each-other’s-lives thing. But, more than that, their kindness, their jokes, and even their cruelty toward each other ring true. After all, no one can hurt you as much as the person who knows you better than anyone else in the world (even if you still don’t know each other’s real names).