Back when this appeared on the big-screen (this past Valentine’s Day) I was all jazzed up and ready to go see it. It was one of the films I thought would be a better bet to see at the box office. As it turned out, I may still wish I had, but in the end it was all for the good that a seven dollar ticket was spent on something else.
CIA spooks are subjected to rigorous training; they can handle almost anything… right? They are skilled in hand-to-hand combat. Learn how to load and handle any weapon they may be asked to use, and are intelligent to boot. For FDR (Chris Pine) and Tuck (Tom Hardy), the two are not only some of Langley’s finest but are best buddies – like family. Right now they have been pulled from the field after blowing a covert mission, leading them to do a lot of nothing at their desks. FDR flirts with any woman who is not looking for long term while Tuck has done the whole black-tie-and-white-gown shebang. Tuck wants the kind of love that is still true even after 50 years which prompts him to join a dating site where he meets the girl he thinks he could have that with. Around the same time, FDR meets a girl who he cannot charm. It isn’t long after that they decide to show each other their girl’s photo…. Turns out, it is a snapshot of the same girl. Little did the friends know that the girl they are dating is the one girl neither can get out of their head.
Lauren (Reese Witherspoon) is a consumer product tester, work that she loves. A week ago she was a pathetic 30-something woman without a man after she moved to the west coast for a guy and now she has two men despite being warned not to date two men at the same time by her best friend but can she help it if she likes both guys…? Is it possible to love two people? Tuck is the more kind-hearted romantic; he makes Lauren feel safe and is easy to talk with – plus he has a British accent. Then there is FDR. Sparks immediately fly between her and the arrogant FDR but she is not impressed. Little does Lauren realize that the two men know each other! Now Lauren will have to choose or this spy vs. spy rivalry may just get messy.
As an actress, I like Witherspoon – a great deal. I think she has a cute girl-next-door personality that usually works in her favor in each role. Unfortunately that doesn’t completely save her in this particular situation because we are a bit ticked off at her for playing two guys against each other (albeit, unknowingly) – not to mention the ramifications of dating two men. Many critics were disgusted with this high-tech action flick for not just the idea that a woman was dating two men (admittedly that conjures up a lot of unpleasant connotations – and says to me that society still has some scruples) but also that those two men would fight over her. I don’t have as difficult a time with that because to his credit FDR is willing to step aside despite liking Lauren but first he insults his best friend and then allows himself to be goaded into a bet – let Lauren chose who she wants without telling her they know each other. That is just not right… and is in fact, really twisted. The fact that Lauren is willing to sleep with two different men in the span of a week to “decide” puts her as one woman not above reproach.
Having sufficiently given appropriate space to the cons and flaws in the film, I’ll just come out and admit it: I loved this movie. It was a lot classier than I had pegged it as being and there was some restraint used where I expected it not to be. For instance, even though it lasted a short time, Lauren wasn’t interested in FDR when they meet because she has his “number.” She knows exactly the kind of guy he is – and he is not the guy she is looking for. Like so many other rom-com flicks, this one has a lot of baggage in the character’s backgrounds. Tuck has a son and Lauren is still reeling from breaking up with the guy she moved to L.A. for. There are some great jokes in regards to that past, and I felt like the film took the time it needed to be both a fun spy movie (just not of the caliber as films that are strictly a thriller) and a cute piece of romantic-comedy (even if it isn’t dripping with chemistry). If you can watch this through a perspective in which you don’t objectify it by all its shoddy qualities, then This Means War is a great deal of fun.
Fortunately, this was made more entertaining as I ran it through ClearPlay. I was conflicted as to whether or not I wanted to having known what the content was ahead of time but in the outcome, I feel satisfied that I didn’t miss anything important to the skeleton of the script (one that is witty but sometimes sappy) even when the editing job was a bit of a hatchet job early on – thanks to some crude “guy talk.” The gist of the love triangle is still made very obvious. All involved learn good lessons and while I wish there had been more restraint in the relationship between Lauren and the guys, the film provided me with just want I needed: Some hearty laughs. There are clarifying moments that make us momentarily proud of Hollywood for recognizing the sanctity of true love and marriage but there is always something around the next corner that seems to shatter that beauty. Bottom line, will I see this again? You bet. This Means War is definitely a more-than-once title that combined all of my favorite genres. (Hello, birthday list! *grin*)
What are some of your favorite Reese Witherspoon films?
(Concerning content: Lauren eventually sleeps with both men [one scene shows her straddling him in nothing but her underwear and him in a state of undress – he is also lying in her bed the following morning]. Countless sexual references pepper the dialogue – including sexual references to the anatomy. Implications suggest CIA agents watch the security tapes of Lauren on her dates under orders to do so from both Tuck and FDR. Profanity includes one f-word, sh*t, a**, da*n, b*tch among others. There is plenty of immodest clothing and implications that FDR engages in multiple one-night stands. Opening the movie, one scene sees multiple men shot and killed [one falls off a skyscraper to his death]; one other scene climaxes in a car chase with gun fire and bullets flying. Characters drink alcohol. The film is rated PG13.)