|20th Century Fox|
Runtime: 96 minutes
Rated: PG-13 (for some sexual themes)
Writers: Timothy Dowling, Simon Kinberg
Starring: Reese Witherspoon, Chris Pine, Tom Hardy, Chelsea Handler
Action | Comedy | Romance
This Means War is about “FDR” (Chris Pine) and “Tuck” (Tom Hardy), two CIA agents both competing for the heart of “Lauren” (Reese Witherspoon). After Tuck puts up a dating profile, he gets a hit from Lauren who seems just as reluctant to meet someone as he initially is. Upon meeting, Tuck and Lauren are hitting it off, and through a chance encounter, FDR runs into Lauren, but doesn't know she's the one his pal is into.
When they are both in the know, this leads to a “gentleman's agreement” between the two to compete for her heart. This they do while using government technology to spy on each other’s progress and eventually sabotage one another on government time. But when this escalates into a more complicated arrangement and emotions start getting in the way of work, things begin to get nasty while the competition continues on through an international crime-lord's attempt to get back at FDR and Tuck.
But we don’t mind suspending a little disbelief because the film is extremely entertaining. We're not supposed to be too enthralled with the action, and we're not, although a lot here will entertain less mature members of the audience. And as far as a romantic comedy is concerned, it ain’t too shabby, even though it features Chelsea Handler, who manages for once to not be as annoying as she usually is, as she plays Lauren's best friend, “Trish.” And she's actually funny here (perhaps another first for Handler).
Taking the place of some of the more insulting attempts to entertain us with boyish stupidity is a clever role reversal; instead of just the guys being smart but stupid, it's now the girls who play the smart but stupid—and superficial; girls can be just as big two-timing twats as any man can be, and perhaps more, which is what Lauren finds herself doing, thanks to the advice of her best friend.
As a comedy, the movie is only truly funny when it relies on Handler's crude take on how opportunistic women should be to take advantage of “girl power.” Beyond that, it's just juvenile stuff that is only sometimes more than smile-worthy. The rest of the humor comes in the form of cartoonish silliness that only rarely manages not to make us remember we are purposely ignoring it. But there is something to be said for making fun of government and touching on the issue of invasion of privacy while pondering the ramifications of playing with emotions like this film does.
Even in light of its hammy ending and plot that takes what we're all familiar with and serves it up to us again, it wins because it gives us an excuse to laugh in a high-energy, modern romance that pays for itself fairly well.