This Means War
Starring Reese Witherspoon, Chris
Pine and Tom Hardy
The opening scene places the two male leads, Tuck (Hardy) and FDR (Pine), on a helicopter launch pad, before they walk into a ritzy party in a foreign country. It’s unclear whether they are actually on business or simply there to pick up women. The action quickly begins—cued by a change in music, of course—when “bad guy” Heinrich (Til Schweiger) and his men appear.
Tuck and FDR, who are partners in the CIA, make a spectacle of the situation, and return to Los Angeles, where they are assigned to their desks as punishment. As it turns out, Tuck is an absentee father of a little boy, and FDR is—for lack of a better term—a slut.
They each meet Lauren (Witherspoon), whose job seems farfetched (it has something to do with marketing or testing products, but it’s never clearly stated), by means of a Match.com-type and a chance encounter.
I had the entire movie predicted at this point. Just ask my roommate. What follows is a battle of the two agents, who agree to date Lauren simultaneously. Like any good romantic comedy, the next hour or so gets filled with cliché after cliché. For instance, we find out FDR is emotionally damaged because his parents died when he was younger, so he copes with the loss by sleeping around. Pine makes a pretty convincing self-assured playboy. However, the scenes in which he’s supposed to be vulnerable and sincere just don’t work. It’s hard to take his character seriously at any point because of his dangerous smirk and brow furrowing. Hardy’s Tuck seems more genuine and sweet, and he does the best he can with what he’s been given.
Lauren uses FDR to make her ex-boyfriend (who is engaged to a doctor, of all things) jealous by making out with him on the sidewalk. Of course, she hasn’t dated much until this point because she is an empowered female, married to her job.
Where has that been done before?
Rather than rooting for Lauren’s happiness, I just wanted to slap her in the face. She may as well have multiple personality disorder because her character is so inconsistent. Though played with intermittent charming moments—dancing around her house, sipping on red wine and singing—the rest of her scenes fall flat. While it’s not entirely the actress’ fault (she didn’t write the script, after all), it is difficult to enjoy her portrayal of Lauren. She’s sweet and down-to-earth with Tuck, naive and confused with her best friend, Trish, and a cocky flirt with FDR. Who knows which side of her is real!
Chelsea Handler’s Trish is the only one managing an iota of believability. She’s raunchy, sarcastic and opinionated—but that’s Chelsea Handler in a nutshell. So it’s hard to even consider her performance acting. Even some of Trish’s lines are disappointing, however. “Don’t go with the better guy,” she says. “Go with the guy who makes you better.” Enough with the clichés, already!
We’re told through music how to feel at any given moment during the movie, rather than relying on the characters’ emotions to understand their situations. The cherry on top is when FDR is home alone, watching “Titanic.” Cue Celine Dion and emotional epiphany.
Unfortunately, the trailer to “This Means War” reveals the most amusing parts of the movie, such as Lauren accidentally setting off a paintball gun on one of the men’s crotches. It’s like trying to enjoy a joke after hearing the punch line.
“This Means War” has an identity crisis at one point. Aside from on-the-counter sex, (which was shown in the previews, too), there is no action until the last 10 minutes or so. And I use the term “action” very liberally. Heinrich manages to track down the agents, leading to a car chase onto an unfinished section of freeway. The car chase has been so overdone, it’s almost comical. There is no blood or violence, and, in tune with the rest of the movie, the fast-paced song supposedly creates suspense. It just falls flat instead. Plus, Tuck and FDR have perfect aim and somehow manage to make it through until the end unscathed.
At no point will audiences feel worried for the safety of these characters, because, first and foremost, this is a romantic comedy. It just wouldn’t be right to kill off the main players. Although, their personalities are so underdeveloped that it wouldn’t have fazed me otherwise.
There are a few one-liners (most of which are Handler’s) that redeem the film occasionally and even a couple endearing moments not seen in previews. However, the best quality about “This Means War” is the attractiveness of the cast—another cliché, of course. I lived in California for most of my life, and contrary to popular belief, not everyone is that beautiful.
My advice: If you want to watch a bunch of blue-eyed beauties complain about having too much of a good thing, then by all means, go see this movie. Otherwise, wait until it comes out on Redbox and save yourself the feeling of, “I can’t believe I just wasted $10 on that.”