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Grab Bag Review: 'This Means War' Is…FUN?

Sometimes there’s a movie…it may not be clever and it may not be hilarious and it may not be believable (at all), but sometimes there’s a movie…a movie that’s simply fun and nothing more.

This Means War is that movie.

But what makes this movie “fun”?

Well, for one thing, there’s the cast: Tom Hardy, Chris Pine and Reese Witherspoon are all (besides being rather good looking) at ease portraying completely unrealistic characters in a completely unrealistic situation.

Try this on for size: two bad-ass CIA field agents, Tuck (Hardy) and FDR (Pine), date (and eventually fall in love with) the same woman, Lauren (Witherspoon, as plucky as ever).
Riiiiiiight.

Since this is an action/rom-com, you’re clearly buying into the whole “suspension of disbelief” thing anyway.

Back to FUN: these actors know that they are in a silly movie and they know that they are playing not characters but CARICATURES who, incidentally, don’t know where the plot is (obviously) going, even though the audience has it figured out within 20 minutes. Oddly enough, the two actors that turn in the most “realistic” performances are Chelsea Handler, as Lauren’s annoying-yet-somehow-charming best friend Trish and Angela Bassett (actually, it’s not really “odd” that Angela Bassett performs so amazingly; it’s expected), as Tuck and FDR’s no-nonsense boss, Collins. Still and all, the cast does hold it together; online pokies Pine’s arrogant playboy, Hardy’s sensitive and misunderstood father and Witherspoon’s awkward career girl, portrayed by a different set of actors, could easily have pushed this movie into the “stupid” zone (and there are moments that definitely cross the line) but, inexplicably, the movie seems to keep pulling itself back from going over the edge.
Hokey? Yes. Trite? Yes. But stupid? No, not quite.

More FUN: I didn’t realize this until the credits, but McG was at the helm. Imagine my surprise. Oh, McG! Where have you been? No more Charlie’s Angels sequels to work on, huh? Too bad, because those were your best movies, in my opinion. (Incidentally McG, I have to admit that I lost all respect for you as a director after hearing Christian Bale’s brilliant rant on the set of Terminator Salvation. What self-respecting director lets his actors abuse the crew like that, with nothing more than a pathetic “I didn’t see anything” as a response? McG, you’re a pussy in my book.) I’ll begrudgingly admit that there’s one good thing about McG: he can keep a film moving forward, no matter the cost. The cool graphics, rapid camera movements, snazzy costuming and fast pace of this movie are all slick devices (visual slight of hand, if you will) meant to keep you entertained in the moment, despite the fact that you may be thinking “what?” “huh?” and “why?” after many of the scenes. No matter, because we’re having FUN watching this movie, remember?

So, now I’m pretty much out of FUN things about the movie at this point, but I have a sneaking suspicion that almost everyone involved in This Means War just wanted to work on something mindless, simple and, well, fun, so they signed up for this movie. It’s a one-dimensional Friday night premiere cable chick flick movie that you can’t help but watch because, frankly, there’s nothing else on TV that’s any better (unless you can find reruns of “The X Files” or “Arrested Development” on).

By the way, the movie never explains why Chris Pine’s character is named FDR which is, in my mind, completely frustrating.

Bottom Line: Dig out those extra free passes for date night and go see this one…but only if you can find those passes.

3 out of 5

About the author

Michelle Nava

People who know Michelle Nava claim that she is an engima, but that truly isn't the case. Michelle prefers the mountains to the beaches, peanut butter over chocolate and beer over any other alcohol in existence. Yes, she has been educated, however please don't hold that against her. Yes, it is also true that she loves reading books, NBC sitcoms that involve Tina Fey, Lucha Libre, most holidays, ninjas, house plants and a minority of her eccentric family members. Somehow in the midst of all the madness, she occasionally finds the time to sit down and watch a good movie yet more often than not, she finds the time to sit down and watch a bad movie; it is those instances that she particularly enjoys sharing with the fabulous readers of Grab Bag Cinema.

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