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This Means War (2012) [a second opinon]

June 20, 2012

MY CALL:  Ridiculous, silly, unrealistic, but really just plain fun. [B-]  IF YOU LIKE THIS WATCH:  The level of silly fun in this flick really smacks of How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days (2003) and Keeping the Faith (2000), but without all the spy hoo-jazz.

A romantic comedy with an action-backdrop.  It’s been done before, but in the past and limited by smaller budgets and less easily achievable CGI technology.  This little date night charmer comes complete with serviceable (but admittedly, and hopefully intentionally, stupid) action—great, in fact, for a RomCom—and a good buddy dynamic between our two best friend spy-by-trade male leads:  The ever-shallow ladies’ man, FDR (Chris Pine; Bottle Shock, Star Trek, Unstoppable), and the more soulful and soul-mate-y, Tuck (Tom Hardy; Inception, Warrior, Dark Knight Rises). 

Here our heroes let the villain (a lousy attempt at a mini-side-plot) get away in an overelaborate escape.

Both actors have proven their worth with a recent flurry of genre admixture.  Then, of course there’s Lauren (Reese Witherspoon;  Water for Elephants, How Do You Know), an overly sharp, generally adorable, successful Consumer Report analyst who can’t seem to find a date even though she has a great attitude and takes care of herself—oh, and she’s as cute as Reese Witherspoon.  Don’t find it plausible?  Don’t care?  The flick simply works in its own silly way and Chelsea Handler is fantastically funny as Witherspoon’s sister.

The flick kicks off when Tuck and Lauren meet via for their first date.    It’s rather abbreviated, but quite sweet.  Shortly after, FDR bumps into Lauren, fancies her and has a womanizer meets girl-power innuendo battle which culminates in an invasion of her workplace until she agrees to a date.  Tuck and FDR find out the very next day that they like the same girl.  Neither is willing to back down so it is suggested they compete to win her affection.  And, with two newly adversely-faced best friends vying for the same woman, we found the title of this movie: This Means War!

Tuck and FDR’s friend dynamic is great.  It starts with the naïve gentleman’s agreement that if their competition over Laura affects their friendship then they both would stop pursuing her—as if!  They get together for Chips marathons and work together and really know little more than the other has to teach.  During their bro-romantic feud they both abuse their surveillance and super-spy gadgetry privileges at work.  As The Hof pointed out in his BMT featurette, this likely cost a lot of tax-payer dollars.

Their recon leads them to all of her childhood fantasies and…some unreasonable adult fantasies as well.  Of course, being overpaid fantasy-movie spies, they make them happen with no problem while competing for her affection.  When it comes to using CIA ear-pieces (inciting the Patriot Act, for God’s sake) to have their subordinates aid them, and the sabotage thereof, it got truly wonderful.  Seeing FDR try to narrate art history while Tuck listened and chimed in to distract him…simply priceless. 

Tranq dart to the neck.  Always funny, especially when tranq’ing someone who’s on a date with the girl you like.

Overhearing their own flaws and watching themselves overcompensate on surveillance footage is nothing if not enjoyable.  To win her over they adopt milky-eyed, venerable dogs and paintball preteens into post-traumatic-stress-disorder to make up for their perceived flaws.  Thank you, Chelsea Handler, for helping to make that happen.  Handler brings up sex at the most inappropriate times and I dare not ruin how.

After a few rounds of capture-the-flag with this fanatic, those kids will go back to playing Dungeons and Dragons in mom’s basement.

No matter what the conflict, these brothers in arms returned to each other as besties.  The happy endings number more than one and will leave you feeling all warm and fuzzy in the standardly lame ways.  FYI, the ending is glorious!

SIDEBAR:  So Chris Pine is taller than Tom Hardy and, when they’re in suits, he even looks bigger and refers to Hardy as his “small friend” jestingly in the movie’s opening scene.  But we all know that if they throw down Hardy is going to ruin Pine and then grind him up into a protein shake, right?

Ah, Chelsea Handler.  Still trying to drown your feelings in cabernet I see.  Well, at least this makes for seriously dirty-funny sex jokes.

Favorite Quotes, all from Chelsea Handler except one, FYI (see Bridesmaids favorite quotes as well—good stuff):

“Stop referring to Boggle like it’s a man.  You sound like a woman who has nine cats and knits her ass off.”

“You know when you know you’re going to have dirty sex and it’s gonna’ stink?  Not like sex.  I mean like man stink, the good stuff.”

“Do you think Gloria Steinham got arrested and sat in a jail cell so you could act like a little bitch?  I don’t think so!”

“You’re not going to Hell.  And if you go there, I’ll be there to pick you up.”

“Agent Foster entered the premises.  Then, he—uh…entered the premises.”


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