Rom-Coms are my guilty pleasure. I’ve seen Katherine Heigl frantically try to hide, find or catch objects more than I should probably admit. So my hopes were high for a spy-themed Rom-Com complete with Reese Witherspoon.
This Means War borrows from the burgeoning genre of spy secretly acts awesome. You can trace it back as far as True Lies up to the recent Knight and Day. When you pull up director McG’s resume, you’ll see he fits comfortably in that category.
Comfort is exactly what makes This Means War fail.
The plot is basically a tennis match. Tuck gets a date. FDR gets a date. They both spy on Lauren as she reminds us that she’s not a whore. FDR sabotages Tuck. Tuck sabotages FDR. They both spy on Lauren as she reminds us that she’s not a whore, etc.
The biggest problem with the film is how far it goes out of its way to make sure you like the main characters. Tuck and FDR essentially stalk Lauren and repeatedly violate her constitutional rights. But they’re never called on it. Lauren strings along two guys reluctantly at the advice of Chelsea Handler. No one is ever really held accountable.
The character development is also paper thin.
Consider Lauren. The only thing we know about her in the beginning is that she’s good at comparing products. That’s convenient. For the rest of the film, she’s the girl the guys want to bang. We spend the whole movie watching her try to decide who she loves, but we never get a taste of why the guys love her.
Tuck and FDR get a bit more development. FDR is the smooth talking ladies man itching to be broken by just the right woman, and Tuck is the strong silent type trying to find someone to snuggle with in the night.
Truthfully, War is a lot more about Tuck and FDR’s love for each other than either trying to woo Lauren. It wouldn’t take much revision for the movie to support an ending where the men chose each other. That would definitely have been funnier.
The ending we get is the most comfortable, though it’s not the one that’s earned. The movie earns an ending where nobody gets the girl. But we can’t get THAT ending on Valentine’s Day week.
The action in This Means War was better than I expected, especially when played for laughs in the paintball scene. It also made me wish more of it was integrated into the agents’ dates with Lauren. By the time I was home from the film I had already thought of 3-4 scenes that would have vastly improved what was in the film.
This Means War is the kind of film you leave thinking, “It was okay, but I wish they had …”
It’s not a disaster by any means. There were a few funny moments within. But the premise is wasted so badly that it’s hard not to get a little angry.