Movie review: This Means War
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
Genre: Romantic, Comedy, Action
Opens locally Friday, February 17th, 2012
Run Time: 1 hour, 38 minutes, Rated PG-13
Starring: Reese Witherspoon, Chris Pine, Tom Hardy, Chelsea Handler, Til Schweiger
Directed by McG (Terminator Salvation, We Are Marshall, Charlie's Angels)
Boy meets girl. Another boy meets same girl. Two boys fight over same girl.
That's the basic premise of This Means War, a romantic-action movie involving a bunch of horrible people doing horrible things. If you think cheating, dating multiple guys at once, stealing your best friend's girl, wagering on whether you can score with her, or having a "sex tiebreaker" to see who you like more is funny? Then this movie is for you. For me, this was a maddening, pathetic Valentine's Day money grab that did the unthinkable: It made me loathe the sweet and fantastic Reese Witherspoon.
The movie is about two CIA operatives, FDA (Chris Pine) and Tuck (Tom Hardy), who are partners and best friends. After being assigned to a desk job after a PR nightmare on their last mission, one of them goes online to try to find a date. Lauren (Witherspoon) has recently gone online, but not by her own doing: Her best friend Trish (Chelsea Handler, acting as herself) created a profile for Lauren, and sets her up on a date with one of the CIA agents. By chance, she runs into the other CIA agent, and begins dating both of them. Soon after, the two friends discover they are dating the same girl, and they battle each other in a "gentleman's agreement" to see who can win the love of Lauren.
I'm purposely not revealing which CIA agent is which, in case you get dragged to see this and care about the plot. What I will tell you is that one of them is more of a "nice guy," who opens doors and is stereotypically sensitive. The other is the "bad boy" ladies man, who's night on the town consists of hanging out in the VIP lounge of the hottest club in town. The two agents use all of their resources to spy on Lauren as well as on each other, using government surveillance and resources to win the girl's heart.
There are stretches of the film that work as inventive romantic comedy, such as when the two try to alter her opinion of them by playing against type. The nice guy kicks some ass at paintball, and the bad boy takes her to an animal shelter where he supposedly hangs out. Chelsea Handler is pretty hilarious in her few scenes, doing her same sex-and-alcohol-loving-say-it-like-it-is cougar routine that has made her famous. She rips on her fat husband throughout the film, and tells her son not to touch her "special milk" that she is drinking from a sippy cup.
As if the love-triangle wasn't convoluted and insulting enough, there is a back-story involving a terrorist who is wanting revenge on one of our two CIA agents. He ripped a piece of fabric off of a suit in a scuffle, and somehow is able to use this piece of fabric to track the agent back to the states. This sub-plot mucks up the movie, but gives action-loving director McG an excuse to throw in a car chase or two in an attempt to...what? Draw in male viewers?
Don't get me started on the hokey, unbelievable things that occur.
The trio at the center of this film are despicable humans. There is no lack of trying though, as Pine, Hardy, and Witherspoon try their hardest to pull all of this off. But guess who wins in the end? The morale of this story is that nice guys always finish last.
During the film, we also meet an ex-wife of one of the agents. We see that the agent wants to get back with her, and she is not interested. But when this nice guy is suddenly publicly revealed to be a CIA agent instead of a travel agent, guess what? The ex-wife is suddenly interested in hooking back up now that this nice guy is a bad-ass.
I hate, hate, hate, shallow premises like this. I do appreciate comedy of all kinds, but This Means War just isn't funny enough throughout to overcome the disgusting messages the film relies on. Good guys don't always have to finish first, but when straight-up a**holes are rewarded with the girl and the glory, it becomes downright offensive.
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