This Means War seems tailor-made for the guys who hate the annual trek to see the latest chick flick at the multiplex for Valentine’s Day.
For starters, with its mix of action, romance and comedy, it’s a date movie the guys actually might enjoy. Both the ladies and gents will notice the good-looking cast. And what woman doesn’t love a movie where not one, but two handsome men court the adorable girl next door?
Yet I also have a feeling the filmmakers are hoping that no one notices something else about this film — it’s kind of lame.
Granted, there are some moments that made me laugh out loud. Unfortunately, the guys seemed to have better chemistry with each other than with the gal. That might be why I never felt too invested in either relationship.
The guys are FDR (Chris Pine)— I think those are his initials, but this nickname really needs some sort of explanation — and Tuck (Tom Hardy), two CIA operatives who are willing to die for each other. Both are single and looking for Miss Right or Miss Right Now (more often in FDR’s case). Tuck signs up for an online dating site and comes across a real beauty he wants to meet.
That beauty is Lauren (Reese Witherspoon), whose friend Trish (Chelsea Handler, who seemed totally disconnected from her character, like she just showed up to spout a few zingers and collect her paycheck) has posted a saucy profile of her to an online dating site behind her back. Lauren is one of those successful, independent single gals who crumbles at the sight of her ex with another woman and makes up stories about having a hot new boyfriend of her own.
Just in case the meeting goes awry, FDR offers to hang out in a nearby video store as an easy exit for Tuck. Turns out Tuck and Lauren get along fabulously and agree to get together soon. Lauren then decides she wants to rent a movie for later, and well, wouldn’t you know, runs smack dab into FDR in the video store.
There are some obvious problems with this “meet-cute” (that’s movie talk for the contrived first encounter between potential lovebirds in a film) — umm, when was this movie written? 1995? I found this scene seriously unrealistic, and besides, haven’t video stores pretty much gone the way of the dinosaur? Anyhow, the two don’t exactly get along, but FDR is persistent and eventually gets Lauren to go on a date with him.
When the guys realize they are seeing the same lady, what do they do? Both agree to date her and say “may the best man win.”
The plot is only semi-predictable, more so if you pick up the clues from the guy who obviously still has feelings for his ex-wife. The guys monitor Lauren’s every move with cell-phone GPS trackers and hidden cameras (does this creep out anyone else?) as they try to one-up each other with each date.
Director McG (who honed his spy-comedy chops directing the two Charlie’s Angels movies) keeps a nice balance between action and romance. Still, the spy story is silly and forgettable. I remember very little about the so-called villain Heinrich (Til Schweiger). The stunt work was pretty clunky and far below the level of the most recent Mission Impossible movie.
Ultimately, both Tuck and FDR spend more time being who they thought Lauren wanted rather than revealing their true personalities. I wasn’t necessarily rooting for either guy to win the girl’s heart at the end. I predict many moviegoers will feel the same. ••
Movie Grade: B-EndFragment