12 February 2012

This Means Snore

A scan of my movie reviews might suggest that I love every film I see; regular readers will know this is because as I tend to go to the cinema twice per week, often alone, I usually pick the films I think I will enjoy most. Sometimes I'll see something that appeals less because I feel I ought to see it, sometimes friends and family persuade me to watch a film that falls outside of my comfort zone and sometimes, I just think one of the stars is hot. This Means War definitely fits into the latter category. Actually, there were three reasons I went to see it last week:

  1. Tom Hardy is hot.
  2. It was a free preview screening.
  3. Tom Hardy is hot.
I saw the trailer a few weeks ago and thought, "wow! This looks ridiculous!" and even Tom Hardy and Reese Witherspoon were going to have to work hard to pull this one off. But then along came the free ticket opportunity and I haven't been able to go to many free previews this year, so I decided to go. The 20th Century Fox folks were in serious lockdown mode: phones had to be handed in, security checks were being made and a scary array of bouncers with night-vision goggles lined the cinema. Still, the big screen at the Empire Leicester Square (which offers a far superior viewing experience to its smaller sibling) was nearly full, so they must have been doing something right. Right?

As for the film, it was pretty poor. Tom Hardy and some supposedly hot American dude (Chris Pine) play FDR (yes, really!) and Tuck, CIA agents and BFFs until they both happen to meet and fall in love with Lauren (Witherspoon). Lauren, who has been somewhat unlucky in love, decides to date them both. She struggles to find much wrong with either of them: FDR has "small hands--and we all know what that means..." whereas Tuck is British, which is, of course, "even worse." The guys agree that they won't let their romantic rivalry ruin their friendship and that they will fight a fair fight, but it would be an even more boring movie if they did that, so instead, they take advantage of the huge array of gadgets, tricks, tools and reconnaissance available to them as CIA agents to try to win Lauren over. But who will she pick? Who could it possibly be? And more to the point, does anyone care?

Witherspoon spent most of the film getting her Elle Woods and managed to be sweet, cute and perky--about all the script demanded of her. Pine and Hardy were hardly any more challenged. This Means War is being billed as the perfect date night movie (hence the 14 February previews), an action/rom-com, but it manages to fail on all fronts: there isn't really enough action for the guys, not enough rom for the girls and not enough com for anyone. I laughed a couple of times but the rest of the corny, cliched script tended to make me snort with derision and roll my eyes. If I had realised before getting there that this was a McG film, I probably wouldn't have given it a shot...

I would not recommend This Means War for Valentine's Day viewing, nor The Vow, which I haven't seen but which sounds dreadful. What would I recommend instead? Well, Martha Marcy May Marlene might be my favourite of the films showing in the UK at the moment, but it isn't really date night fodder. I will probably be watching The Woman in Black; the reissue of Casablanca and the screening of Breakfast at Tiffany's at the Everyman Baker Street would be more traditional choices.


  1. When Lauren says that Tuck is "British," she means that he's uncircumcised (as are most UK men). I am amazed at how many posters on the 'Net (on various movie discussion websites) didn't get this reference. I think it shows how insular we are as a culture -- that we know almost nothing about anything outside U.S. borders.

  2. Thanks for your input. That's definitely one interpretation. I am actually British and although I was aware of the US-UK divide you mention, it definitely wouldn't be the first thing that would occur to a lot of Brits in this context. British men do also tend to get a bad rep in many US films (and from the start, it was fairly obvious who Lauren would choose), and to a cynical British movie-goer, it wouldn't be implausible that Tuck's Britishness was enough to put her off. Even if Tom Hardy isn't cursed with British teeth ;)

    Either way, This Means War was one of the worst films I saw last year, and I think there are bigger issues with the script and the audience's interpretation thereof.