' ' Cinema Romantico: This Means War

Monday, June 04, 2012

This Means War

Like an amalgamation of "Mr. & Mrs. Smith", "There's Something About Mary" and the "Seinfeld" episode where Jerry and George are mistakenly outed as gay men, "This Means War", directed by McG, aspires to be the ultimate date movie in so much as it combines a rom com with an action flick. Except such a scenario requires delicacy and when you actively asked to be called McG, well, it becomes quite clear delicacy is not your forte.

Tuck (Tom Hardy) and FDR (Chris Pine) are not only your typical mega super duper CIA agents, they are best pals, like, 4Ever & Ever ♥. The film establishes that they have separate residences but you sense throughout that just as easily they could have bunked together in one room with twin beds. As the film opens they are in the midst what is specifically supposed to be a "covert" operation only to have it, of course, wind up totally overt and rather than nab the bad guy they are after, Henrich (Til Schweiger), they kill the brother of the bad they are after and, thus, as he must, Heinrich swears revenge. Sigh. Meanwhile the CIA Director - played by Angela Bassett which suggests "This Means War" occupies the same universe as "Alias" - is so fed up with Tuck and FDR that she sentences them to desk work. 

This is when Tuck - divorced with a son - reveals he yearns for a woman in his life with whom he can actually share the oh so special bond he and FDR share. And so he turns to internet dating which FDR - a playa's playa - finds offensive and humorous. Eventually Tuck has a wonderful first date with a lovely lady except that then the lovely lady immediately goes to rent a movie and runs into - ye gods! - FDR who chats her up and turns her off and pursues her anyway to eventual success. 

The lovely lady is Lauren Scott, played by Reese Witherspoon in any number of spectacularly low-cut cocktail dresses, her well-coiffed blonde hair not blowing in the breeze, but I'll be honest when I say she was obviously most fetching when glimpsed in sweats with giant headphones clamped around her ears and singing out loud to herself as she walked in public and ran into her - gasp! - ex. Her ex who is engaged, because of course he is because this merely underscores how Lauren is "married to her job" and "can't find the right man." (Dammit, Reese, aren't they sending you better scripts? Get it together, girlfriend, you won an Oscar, for God's sake.) Perhaps the right man will be Tuck? Or perhaps it will be FDR?

It does not take long for the two mega super duper CIA agents to discover they are dating the same woman and so, as any two movie characters would, they make a bet to see who can woo lovely Lauren first. This results in spy movie shenanigans filtered through a screwball comedy as they install secret cameras and run data ops and break into her apartment to analyze her likes and dislikes. It's all more than a bit stalkerish and could very well fear the guys' motivations but then we must remember that Barbara Stanwyck and her father were con artists trying to bilk Henry Fonda in "The Lady Eve" which is generally considered a "classic". Motivations aren't always pure.

Lauren seeks council with her foul-mouthed best pal (Chelsea Handler) and tries to determine which guy she should choose and in one way there is real suspense because neither Hardy nor Pine, I suspect, is a bigger star than the other which means Hollywood Pecking Order cannot necessarily determine the outcome. Yet, we also remember that Hardy's son and ex-wife for whom he clearly still has feelings were established and so......whoops! I mean, spoiler alert! Anyway, in spite of the love triangle and in spite of the inevitable Lauren Is Kidnapped By Heinrich Leading To A High Speed Chase third act climax (duh) "This Means War" almost unwittingly morphs into a bromance between Tuck & FDR that assumes non-covert "Top Gun" (as read by Quentin Tarantino) overtones. 

Were McG and his writers even aware this was happening? Will they now try and claim they DID know it was happening even though they didn't? Lauren Scott feels oh so much like Kelly McGillis' Charlotte Blackwood in that she just keeps getting in the way of the boys' good times. I fear that despite Lauren winding up in FDR's arms and Tuck re-uniting with the mother of his child that these two gentlemen are going to go the way of Dennis Quaid in "Far From Heaven." And that would leave Lauren like Julianne Moore and that's just not right.

Any woman who is comfortable enough in her own skin to stay in Friday night with a movie and popcorn with a pre-game of cutting a rug to Montell Jordan's "This Is How We Do It" deserves true happiness. 

Own it, girl!


Anonymous said...

This Means War had all the major issues you mentioned. And I agree - is Reese reading the scripts before signing on to jobs? Geez . . .

Regardless, I found it very entertaining. And I appreciated your little comment about the Hollywood Pecking Order. That's an interesting point, considering they're both about on equal par right now in Hollywood World.

The scene where Tuck sneaks into FDR's feed and narrates the "history" of the art that FDR claims to know in order to impress Lauren made me laugh very hard. Something about sticks, and if they ran out, then they used their . . .

Anonymous said...

I was considering watching this last weekend as we're really stumped about what to watch. My hubby and I were set on watching Point Break for some reason but couldn't find one to rent, but I just couldn't bring myself to rent this one. Yes, despite the hunkyness of Tom Hardy!!! I might give in at some point and give it a shot, but even the trailer looks excruciating. I get that some actors cash in every once in a while but still!

Nick Prigge said...

Kristin: That was an enjoyable scene. Kind of an update on "Roxanne". I didn't outright hate the movie or anything and I really do like the idea of blending screwball with action, it just didn't get all the way there for me. (And hey, Cinema Romantico is happy to see you around here again!)

Ruth: I can safely say "This Means War" is no "Point Break."

Andrew K. said...


That being said thank you for 1, laughter, and for 2, not making me feel like a complete idiot because, I swear, everyone I heard talk about this movie said they knew immediately who she'd choose and I was legitimately nonplussed until she actually chose, so there's that.

Nick Prigge said...

It seems like whenever I write about movies I'm not completely fond of I'm much, much less hesitant to keep secrets. I can't help myself. And really? They knew exactly who she'd choose? Did they all say Chris Pine? Or Tom Hardy?

(By the way, I FINALLY got to see "Certified Copy" tonight. All I have to say at this juncture is.....woah. I need to let this one soak in for a few days. A lot to consider.)

Andrew K. said...

YAY, I'm seeing ELIZABETHTOWN tomorrow, a post birthday celebration (see if you joined twitter you'd know that yesterday/today? was my birthday.) I'm sure I'll like it. Shall keep you posted.

They all said Pine. The reviews went along, "of course there's no real drama as to who she'll choose because it's obvious from the outset". I don't know, I was sort of clueless. But, I guess ignorance has its perks?

Okay I thin that's enough N-N-N-N-N-Nick. (That's an obscure-ish reference to CERTIFIED COPY, which - when you write about it - I will link the SHIT out of, because I am nothing if not predictable.)

Nick Prigge said...

Happy birthday! (That's a brilliant attempt, by the way, to get me to join Twitter.) Which puts "Elizabethtown" under that much more pressure. I hope it can deal with it.