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Movie Review: ‘This Means War’

Feb 162012
 
 By , February 16, 2012

“This Means War” — A film review by Gary Chew

It’s not everyday one gets to see a movie that shows an exploding paintball grenade and a guy named FDR in it too. So better hightail it to see the quintessential date movie. And wow, just in time for Valentine’s Day.

That would be “This Means War,” with the lovely and talented Reese Witherspoon as Lauren.

Lauren has two James Bonds on her hands: FDR and Tuck (Chris Pine and Tom Hardy). Pine is best known as the new Captain Kirk and Hardy for “Inception,” “Warrior” and currently in “Tinker, Taylor, Soldier, Spy.” How do you like them apples, gals?

Well, Lauren likes both these “apples,” or I should say, big lugs. They’re almost as photogenic as Reese Witherspoon … but not quite.

Anyway, seems FDR and Tuck are good buds and work together as CIA operatives. They office in a very secret, high tech venue sequestered somewhere in beautiful downtown Los Angeles.

FDR and Tuck are more into spying on each other using their CIA surveillance gear than keeping an eye on the bad guy (Til Schweiger) who lurks mostly along the periphery of the film’s narrative.

Lauren is all-at-sea as to which of the guys she wants to hook-up with, so it’s a contest between the men as to who gets Lauren. Yes, this is a really unusual plot. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a film that uses this conceit (cynicism by the reviewer).

Actually, it doesn’t matter that “This Means War’s” story is hackneyed. It’s funny. And with the spy-action running at the speed -of-light intermittently throughout the movie, there are fun-filled jolts to balance the zany romantics of it all.

Reese Witherspoon, Tom Hardy and Chris Pine

Director McG, better known to the his family as Joesph McGinty Nichol, makes the “naughty” nuanced (PG-13), and has nearly pulled-off there not being a dull moment in this piece of genuine entertainment. Its spins marvelously off on the myriad spy capers we’ve seen over the decades. Ian Fleming, I dare say, would be chortling-off his head.

McG and his story people — Timothy Dowling, Simon Kinberg, and Marcus Gautesen — make fun of guys, in general, and Pine and Hardy in particular. That makes the gals laugh.

Then the script pours it on with all the gals being super hot and really snarky (a la Charlize Theron and Emma Stone), not to mention being exceedingly self-absorbed. This makes the guys laugh.

What you’ve got is everyone in the cinema close to rolling in the aisles, and enough so that “This Means War” is well worth the ticket’s price.

Nearly every scene is, in a way, a comic bit unto itself, but well-connects the forward motion of the dipsy-doodle dating, spy-shenanigans and jolly talk-trash chatter.

Funniest line for me in the film is when Lauren’s older, married-with-children gal pal, Trish (Chelsea Handler), blurts, after getting a report from Lauren following Lauren’s sleep-over with one of the contenders (so to speak), “Can you walk?” LOL!

The guys and gals in the theater were all laughing hearing that brief interrogative. But there are plenty more from where that one came.

Something to take note of: Ms. Handler is also known for edgy television talk. How long has it been since you’ve seen “Chelsea Lately” on the small screen in your home?

I was going to open this review by writing that “This Means War” is way too slow, but: enough with cynicism for one day — especially when it’s time for Valentines.

You’ll have fun seeing this one whether you have a date, or not.

 

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Gary Chew was a classical music host, programmer and producer on Capital Public Radio’s KXPR 88.9FM, Sacramento for 18 years. He retired in January 2007. Read more about Gary's long and storied career here.
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