REVIEW: This Means War

28 11 2012

Guilty pleasures.  We all have them, even people like me who put on the serious critic face and laud the potential contributions to cinema in Paul Thomas Anderson’s “The Master.”  Mine happen to be romantic comedies, which don’t disgust me as much as most reviewers (or men, for that matter).  As long as I buy the chemistry and the formula isn’t totally cloying or transparent, I’ll generally find some enjoyment.

Maybe the auditorium of my tiny seat-back on the plane ride home from France made me a particular captive viewer, but I was totally enthralled by “This Means War.”  I found myself laughing at inappropriately loud levels and thus the victim of a number of sharply cutting glances from my mom.  For whatever reason, I was just totally operating on this movie’s wavelength.

Sure, it’s brutally corny at times.  (What rom-com isn’t these days?)  Some of the melding of action with the inherently chick flick core of the film doesn’t always function as smoothly as it should.  The relationships aren’t always totally believable, probably a victim of how they are written on the page.  However, in spite of all this, I had a good time and was willing to put a lot of my issues to rest.

The fun probably came from just how much I enjoy these three actors.  I will probably always view any Reese Witherspoon film through a rosy lens because of my well-documented crush on her since around, oh, 2001.  As Lauren, she finds herself in a familiar predicament for Reese Witherspoon characters – choosing between two men vying for her heart (“Water for Elephants,” “How Do You Know,” and “Sweet Home Alabama” have all hinged on a similar dilemma.)

The competition is all the fun as her suitors are best friends from their work in the CIA.  Chris Pine’s FDR is the more suave, rom-com jerk that the audience and the girl eventually come around to like.  But Tom Hardy’s Tuck is a quieter, more sensitive guy and proves to be an interesting antidote to the typical kind of guy that screws her over.  Hardy struggles a bit with the romantic side of Tuck, and it’s clear that he’s best off in manly man movies like “Bronson” and “Lawless.”  In the latter movie, Jessica Chastain is the one who has to court him, and that seems more logical.

Oh, and as Lauren struggles to decide as she dates both men, we are treated to a running commentary of Chelsea Handler as her sister Trish.  She brings an incredibly beautiful sardonic and deprecating wit to “This Means War” that most genre flicks lack these days, voicing the frustrations we often have as viewers.  Leave it to Handler, one of the funniest women in the world right now, to turn the typical groans into side-splitting laughs.  B+





Random Factoid #344

7 07 2010

Thankfully I wasn’t anywhere near a movie theater whenever Teams Edward and Jacob united to watch “Eclipse.”  I refuse to talk about the series on my blog; in fact, I avoid mentioning the word at all in case I were to draw traffic of girls thinking they were getting “Twilight” gossip.

Most people just hate the series on principle.  Don’t get me wrong, I most definitely do.  Chelsea Handler, in her piece from Entertainment Weekly‘s decade wrap-up edition called “The Vampire Craze? It Kind of Sucks,” sums up so much of what I feel about the series:

I don’t quite get this whole lusting-after-vampires thing … thisTwilight/True Blood craze is being taken a little far. I recently read that grown women were stealing cardboard cutouts of Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner from Nordstrom. I don’t understand how; the wind resistance alone should slow them down. Security can’t be to blame; obviously those women were on a mission. I for one would certainly get out of the way of a crazy cougar running down the street with a cougar cosmo and a fake vampire …

… I worry more about the younger girls that are ”Twihard” fans. For the record, I did not come up with that name, nor do I feel good about the fact that I just used it. I don’t know if the Twilight stars are very good role models. They always look exhausted, and none of them seem to be very happy about being famous. Although I sympathize with anybody who is forced to stay up all night and is deathly allergic to the sunlight, I would think the $12 million paycheck they’re supposedly getting could boost their spirits. I also don’t know if girls should be aiming to find a guy who only wants to suck on their neck. That usually results in a hickey, and the only way to cover one up is with a turtleneck, which I don’t recommend under any circumstances, including the Olympics.

Unfortunately, I also hate the series out of experience.  Before my freshman year, I read “Twilight” for summer reading.  I bought in sixth grade before I knew what a sensation it would become with tween girls.  So, seeing it on my shelf, I figured it might make a nice read.

Worst.  Decision.  Ever.

Unlike a movie, which can be over in the relatively painful lifespan of two hours, I spent prolonged periods of time reading about the two star-crossed lovers showing affection in fields.  It didn’t get horrible until about 200 pages in, and by that point, there was no turning back.

So you can call me a hater, but you can’t call me ignorant.