Monday, March 11, 2013

This Means War

Directed by McG.
2012. Rated PG-13, 97 minutes.

Reese Witherspoon
Chelsea Handler
Til Schweiger
John Paul Ruttan
Rosemary Harris

Tuck (Hardy) and FDR (Pine) are super secret agents for the CIA hot on the trail of international bad guy Heinrich (Schweiger). Even though they're also bestest buds, they have very different love lives. FDR is a ultra smooth ladies' man snapping up any woman he speaks to. Tuck, on the other hand, is stuck in neutral as he repeatedly, and unsuccessfully tries to get back with his baby-mama Katie (Spencer). To break out of his funk, Tuck gives online dating a try. We also meet Lauren (Witherspoon). She's a thirty-something big-wig at a "Consumer's Reports" type company and thus, has no time for a social life. Her besty, Trish (Handler), takes it upon herself to create a profile for Lauren that so happens to be on the same online dating site Tuck uses. See where we're going? Through a minor twist spoiled by every one of this movie's trailers, Lauren ends up dating both men. From there, half the movie is spent on watching Lauren get bad love advice from Trish as she tries to pick between suitors. The other half is spent watching our two would-be heroes misappropriate government funds and violate everyone's code of ethics in order to win their pissing contest for Lauren's love.

No need to beat around the bush, This Means War is a mess of a movie. Cliched dialogue and flat jokes run rampant as the story goes nowhere until it's decided that sex has to be involved. Even then, it only lurches forward a bit until someone remembers there's actually a case these guys are supposed to be working. Seriously, I can't think of a movie where the villain is less important. His only function is to show up near the end and put our damsel in distress.

Even as the story creeps along there are some things brought up. Unfortunately, a number of them are dropped without explanation. For instance, the boys get grounded early on because their covert operation becomes very public and causes lots of property damage. That's a clever place for an action flick to start. However, it's never mentioned again despite the fact that everything they do has the same effect. Other things aren't brought up that clearly need to be, like why one of the guys insists on going by FDR. Those are some of the weightiest initials in American history and were obviously chosen on purpose, but why? I get that these are also this character's initials but going by them is ridiculous. Besides, nothing we know of the real FDR is even remotely related to this guy. Still, we get no explanation.

To their credit, the performers try valiantly to breathe life into this thing. As we all know, reanimating a corpse is impossible. Hardy and Pine play off each other well enough. Witherspoon is generally likable, but annoying during the scenes where she agonizes over which hunk to choose. Thankfully, those scenes are rescued by Chelsea Handler, one of the film's few bright spots. She seems to have been borrowed from a Judd Apatow flick. Her "answer for everything" patter feels improvised, but hampered by the movie's PG-13 rating. Regardless, most of the funny stuff in the film comes out of her mouth. Despite the best efforts of the cast, it never even threatens to become anything worthwhile. I blame the director, McG. Has this guy ever made a decent movie? Maybe, just maybe the first Charlie's Angels qualifies. That was his first and, still, best movie. Ever since, he's been putting out crap like this.


  1. I agree the movie is weak and it's solely the director's fault. The only place I disagree with you is about Chelsea Handler, I hated her character in the film and found her loud and braying.

    One of the things that was most dispiriting about the film was the total waste of Angela Bassett in a nothing part as the guys boss. I'm not much of a fan of American Horror Story but one thing that makes it worthwhile is the use of some great actresses that Hollywood is otherwise wasting including Bassett.

    I'd love to see Pine and Hardy reteamed in a picture worthy of their time and their very strong chemistry.

    1. That makes Chandler is definitely a take it or leave it type.

      Bassett is definitely wasted here. Sadly, she's been wasted for 20 something years.

      I'm not opposed seeing Pine and Hardy together again. They could produce something really good, given better material.