‘This Means War’: Love comedy is a lame premise

TMW-302 - Des­pite the hand­shake and smiles, it’s all out war between best pals Tuck (Tom Hardy, left) and FDR (Chris Pine), who are bat­tling over the wo­man (Reese With­er­spoon), for whom they’ve both fallen.


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-


You can reach at shorbrook@bsmphilly.com.

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