This Means War

Art & Culture

There is a long and occasionally noble history of films in which two men are in love with the same woman. At the top end, we have Truffaut's sublime Jules Et Jim (released exactly 50 years ago), and at the other, very shallow end, we have this new romantic comedy. Mentioning them in the same sentence is a kind of blasphemy.

The film has the most slender of plots. Best friends Tuck (Tom Hardy) and FDR (Chris Pine) are CIA agents who do everything together, lovers in all but sexual attraction. Because they are of course resolutely heterosexual. Tuck has a sexy ex-wife and cute son, who are clearly just waiting to be reclaimed (there isn't even a new boyfriend, for heaven's sake). FDR, on the other hand, is a player, constantly on the pull, whose idea of commitment is staying the night (which he never does). Somewhere in the background, there's a nominal action plot, in which a Russian gangster is trying to hunt them down, but this is less of a plot strand, more of a coffee ground.

You would think from the advertising – and from the fact that she is an established movie star – that Reese Witherspoon is the central character in the movie. And you'd be wrong. If this is a love sandwich, the pieces of bread are very thick and she is a rather scrawny slice of ham and cheese. Incidentally, is there some rule that romcom actresses, especially ones where two men are in love with them, have to be fiendishly unsexy? Apart from wee Reese in this and How Do You Know? (and Water For Elephants, come to that), we have Rene Zellwegger in Leatherheads and 2 Bridget Jones movies, not to mention Jennifer Aniston, Kate Hudson and Sarah Jessica Parker. I know these things are subjective, but in my far from humble opinion, the combined sexual wattage of those five women would barely light a small table lamp. Whereas Kristen Wiig, for example, is positively smouldering.

But I digress. Back to the bromance. Tuck and FDR (and why have they both got silly names?) accidentally both fall in love with the same woman (Withorwithoutaspoon), and then proceed to behave like a couple of teenagers as they compete to win her favours, although if you didn't know better, you'd swear they were more interested in a) winning b) proving that they are heterosexual and c) showing off to each other. This entails numerous hilarious scenes in which they aim to mess up the other guy's date, while Reese looks suitably baffled.

This is an archetypally pointless film, designed and built for short term appeal. Watch it, leave the cinema, go home, forget about it. My main question is – WTF is Tom Hardy doing in a film like this (and to be fair, he shows surprising dexterity in a comic role)? The guy is a proper actor, with talent to spare. Chris Pine is a pretty face, if you find that kind of face pretty, and RW is – well, she's Meg Ryan's daughter, and I'm sorry if you call that cruel.

The film is so dumb, I'm actually looking forward to Jennifer Aniston's new movie, released the same day.


Phil Raby

Front Row Films

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