Mediocre mash-up of action and rom-com in ‘This Means War’ plus a good family film, ‘Journey 2’
Romantic comedies have been so awful lately (with the major exception of Crazy, Stupid, Love) it is no wonder that director McG and his trio of writers decided to try and spiff up the genre by mashing it together with an action comedy.
Despite a talented trio of protagonists in Reese Witherspoon, Chris Pine and Tom Hardy, This Means War is a movie that fails to provide even a hint of reality around the edges. One notable exception to that statement is Chelsea Handler, who shows up in the best friend role and provides most of the laughs as the housewife with a slob of a husband who wants to live vicariously through her friend’s love life.
Reese Witherspoon is that friend, Lauren, whose profile is placed on a dating site by her pal Trish (Handler). Gee, we haven’t seen that plot point in a rom-com have we? Lauren is about to erase said profile when she decides she likes one of guys matched with her, Tuck (Tom Hardy). Tuck is a CIA agent and when his partner and best friend FDR Foster (Pine) meets Lauren at a video store, the agents are soon engaged in the war of the title.
Watching these two professionals, who should be more concerned about their job than their love life, waste taxpayers money on getting the proper intel to succeed with Lauren is beyond ridiculous.
It was also depressing to see a former Academy Award nominee, Angela Bassett, in a small, thankless role as their CIA boss. She is apparently a stupid boss at that since she doesn’t appear to realize her agents are poaching tech staff and equipment for this romantic war. I was annoyed that Bassett was hired and so criminally under-utilized. That goes for Til Schweiger too (Inglourious Basterds) who is the bad guy the agents are ignoring in favor of their romantic battle.
Pine proved he had star potential when he took the center chair as Captain Kirk in the Star Trek reboot and Hardy is a rising star via Inception and Warrior, but they should avoid comedy — at least with a script this insipid.
As for Witherspoon, she has enough comedy chops to pull off a few good scenes, mostly the ones with Handler, but her career hasn’t exactly been soaring since her Oscar win for Walk the Line in 2006.
After catching up with some Oscar contenders, it was back to new releases at the multi-plex, the "found-footage" horror flick 'Chronicle' and family-oriented save-the-whales tale 'Big Miracle.'
The success of the Bourne trilogy has changed the landscape of spy movies. While there are still James Bond movies, even those have more grit these days. Safe House, starring Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds, is an obvious example of this new direction.
While there are the usual stone cold lock Oscar nominees this year, the current award season has divided up the booty just enough to make this an intriguing and challenging year for Oscar prognosticators.
While I was recovering from surgery last month, several Oscar contenders opened. Here are some quick opinions on those films and what chance they might have when the Oscars are handed out Feb. 26.
If you were planning to make a fictional look at what Navy SEALs do in real life, having active unit Navy SEALs in the main roles seems like a fascinating attempt at upping the realism of the firefights.