March 8, 2012

Not Quite a Bad Romance

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If you are a girl under the age of 30 with a heart and a sense of humor, it is nearly impossible not to get excited about seeing a new romcom (that’s romantic comedy, for those of you who don’t have an irrational passion for happy endings). Nonetheless, when advertisements were first released for This Means War, starring Reese Witherspoon, Chris Pine, Tom Hardy and Chelsea Handler, people were not exactly shaking in their boots with excitement. Even I, an avid fan of the romcom, was wary going into it, knowing full well that the acting, plot and dialogue would all probably be mediocre and formulaic.

And it was exactly that. Totally predictable, cliché and cheesy, the movie was nothing special. Even so, it was surprisingly more entertaining than I had expected. The bromance between Pine and Hardy’s characters was sweet and believable and Chelsea Handler made a great inappropriately crass best friend with terrible advice and extreme sexual urges. Reese Witherspoon was the same character she always is, but still managed to be cute and likeable. By the end of the film, it really was difficult to predict which stud she was going to pick.

There were a few main nagging drawbacks. Firstly, it felt ridiculous that the three main characters were so single and unhappy when they were all absurdly beautiful for average people — especially when their tans were obviously digitally darkened and their blue eyes made three shades brighter.

Secondly, the technology that the guys had access to as CIA agents was outrageous, even for a movie. Their office was covered in digital computer screens that served no purpose besides flashing pictures and moving windows of which no one was in control. They also seemed to have a full staff of tech people who had all the time in the world to help them spy on a girl for fun.

Thirdly, a huge problem with the story was what I like to call the “funny violence,” that is showing up more and more often in bad romcoms such as Knight and Day and Killers. Although action does add a fun element to the movie that made even my dad enjoy it, it is extremely off-putting to watch an attractive man be drop kicked in the face by a terrorist and still have the consciousness and willingness to fire back with a witty one-liner about said terrorist’s failed love life, for example. Somehow, it just undermines the validity of the rest of the movie.

However, Tom Hardy, who plays the romantic Tuck, pretty much steals the movie from both Chris Pine and Reese Witherspoon. A fresh face to the comedy scene (Hardy is now most famously known for his role as Eames in Christopher Nolan’s Inception), Hardy is endearing, realistic, and even somewhat unique. His British accent and rugged looks (compared to Pine’s pretty boy personality and demeanor) make him particularly likeable both as a CIA agent and as Lauren’s (Witherspoon’s character’s) potential new boyfriend. He was by far the most interesting character to watch.

The most enjoyable part of the movie, of course, is the competition between Tuck and FDR (Pine’s character) to win over Lauren. The scenes of their elaborate and creative dates that they each take her on are like girl porn — complete with carnivals, gourmet dinners, animal shelters and art exhibits. The best is when Tuck learns that Lauren finds him too “safe,” so he takes her paintballing and literally kicks ass as though he’s on one of his covert CIA missions. Of course, Lauren still thinks that he’s a travel agent and doesn’t know how to react.

The funniest scenes in the movie are when Tuck and FDR sabotage each other’s efforts with Lauren. Although they pretend to play fair, both guys set up surveillance and run interference on the other’s missions. Tuck even shoots FDR with a dart gun so that he and Lauren can’t have sex. It’s hard to watch these scenes and not laugh like you aren’t expecting them.

Essentially, the beginning and the middle are both very enjoyable and entertaining build up for the big decision that Lauren has to make. It is only the end of the movie that hasThis Means War live up to its expectations as an overdone cheese-fest. Again, the action scenes are too lighthearted and Lauren is too much of a bimbo. She hardly cares when her life is put into serious danger and is mad for about two minutes when she finally figures out her two boyfriends have been lying to her the entire time. I found myself caring less about Lauren’s choice and more about whether or not FDR and Tuck were going to salvage their relationship. The ending was simply too unbelievable and a little cheap.

Despite the movie’s predictable flaws and tacky ending, the first hour and a half of the movie are nothing short of delightful — that is, if you are a girl under the age of 30 with a heart and a sense of humor.

Original Author: Lucy Goss