I’m proud to be an American, but the quickest way to turn me off from something is to dub it “America’s fill-in-the-blank.” For example, “America’s Team” would be the Dallas Cowboys. Or maybe the New England Patriots. Either way – I ain’t with it. Similarly, we’re fond of calling people “America’s Sweetheart.” I’m not a fan of the expression or what it represents. Take “America’s Sweetheart,” Julia Roberts. I’m over her; she doesn’t get a pass for mediocre movies or that obnoxious toothy laugh. However, there is one notable exception to my disdain for all things patriotic. Reese Witherspoon – one of America’s Sweethearts who doesn’t annoy me. Plus she played Tracy Flick in Election, so she can’t be that much of a goody two shoes. Check that one out on DVD if you haven’t seen it, especially if you’re a fan of black comedy.
I was curious about her latest movie, an entrant into the relatively unique action rom-com genre. If you don’t know what an action romantic comedy is, think Mr. & Mrs. Smith. I digress. Witherspoon (Water for Elephants) stars alongside Chris Pine (Unstoppable) and Tom Hardy (Warrior) in This Means War, a spy vs. spy movie that ended up being pretty entertaining. Best friends Tuck and FDR are CIA agents who discover that they are casually dating the same woman; a cute thirty-something named Lauren who is none the wiser. Being the competitive chaps that they are, Tuck and FDR refuse to back off and defer to each other. They lay down some ground rules, and the game is on. As secret agents they bring all of their espionage talents to bear, complete with high-tech gadgetry. Unbeknownst to their boss (played by the wonderful Angela Bassett), they use Agency resources to take cock blocking to unprecedented levels, complete with surveillance and wiretaps. Lauren genuinely is interested in both guys for different reasons. Tuck is nice, humble and sweet, while FDR is brash and cocky. Advising Lauren every step of the way is her sister Trish, played by the hilarious Chelsea Handler in her big screen debut.
Witherspoon’s character was relatable and endearing. Lauren needed to be capable of making two guys battle each other tooth and nail for a shot with her. Considering that most men hate to lose, it wasn’t a far-fetched idea. Tom Hardy continues to impress me with the wide range of roles he accepts. He’s quite versatile, capable of being both a romantic leading man and a diabolical villain (check him out in the upcoming The Dark Knight Rises). Chris Pine doesn’t really do it for me, but I understood his character’s appeal. Everyone had good chemistry with each other, both comedic and romantic (not the two guys, obviously). The movie doesn’t sacrifice Tuck and FDR’s friendship either, supporting the old adage of bros before garden tools. To sum it up, this was a great date movie. It has a little something for men and women alike. Grade: B