Total Recall: Superstar Duos
With The Tourist hitting theaters, we run down some notable flicks featuring pairs of big stars.
Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith, Men in Black
The success of The Fugitive catapulted Tommy Lee Jones from "distinguished character actor" to "leading man" status, and after Bad Boys, the mid-to-late 1990s pretty much belonged to Will Smith -- so Men in Black wasn't just your average action/comedy/sci-fi summer blockbuster, it was an Event Movie with almost $590 million in ticket sales (and a pair of sequels) waiting to happen. It didn't win any awards for storytelling depth (although it did win a Best Makeup Oscar), but its unapologetic popcorn thrills, fueled by Smith and Jones' easy interplay, entertained a whole lot of people -- including Slate's David Edelstein, who called it "The smartest, funniest, and best-looking sci-fi comedy since the movies learned to morph."
Brad Pitt and Julia Roberts, The Mexican
Pitt and Roberts had their eyes on a co-starring project for some time -- and they wanted to work together badly enough that they eventually settled on The Mexican, an erstwhile indie project whose script didn't even call for its male and female leads to spend much time together. The result was a curiously disjointed film, badly mismarketed as a Pitt/Roberts romantic comedy, whose $147 million box office take wasn't enough to keep it from feeling like one of 2001's more unexpected disappointments. Christopher Smith of the Bangor Daily News spoke for the majority of critics when he queried, "Habla usted mediocre movie?"
Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, Mr. & Mrs. Smith
Ms. Jolie's turn in The Tourist isn't her first blockbuster duo pairing -- her 2005 team-up with Brad Pitt for the rapid-fire action rom-com Mr. & Mrs. Smith united two of the biggest stars in the Hollywood firmament for a $478 million hit that not only thrilled audiences, but kept the paparazzi busy for months, and served as our introduction to the globetrotting, child-adopting celebrity mashup known as Brangelina. All things considered, critics weren't as impressed as filmgoers, but the movie had its fans, including Ken Tucker of New York Magazine, who said "Mr. & Mrs. Smith works on almost every level and against all odds."
Kevin Costner and Clint Eastwood, A Perfect World
Yeah, we know, we know -- Kevin Costner makes movies with Ashton Kutcher now, and Clint Eastwood directs Matt Damon movies. But trust us: In 1993, a movie starring Costner (who had just made The Bodyguard) and Eastwood (coming off In the Line of Fire) was a very big deal, even if you wouldn't know it from A Perfect World's paltry $31 million gross. Its meditative pace was a bit of a shock for audiences expecting more popcorn fare from its leads, but this drama about a Texas Ranger (Eastwood) pursuing an escaped convict-turned-kidnapper (Costner) gave the Robin Hood star a chance to play against type -- and impressed critics like ReelViews' James Berardinelli, who called it "evidence that Hollywood is still capable of producing the kinds of moving, intelligent movies that have increasingly become the province of independent film makers."
Paul Newman and Robert Redford, The Sting
Newman helped solidify Redford's leading man status when they teamed up for the first time with 1969's Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, but when they met again for The Sting, Redford had come into his own as a marquee-topping star in his own right -- and the result was not only a seven-time Academy Award winner, but one of the all-time standard bearers for the heist caper genre. "The film is so good-natured, so obviously aware of everything it's up to, even its own picturesque frauds," confessed Vincent Canby of the New York Times, "that I opt to go along with it."
Finally, here's a duet from two musical superstars -- John Lennon and Paul McCartney -- from the oft-bootlegged documentary Let It Be: