‘War’ frustratingly tolerable romance

Justin Marietti

Director McG returns to the screen with the campy romantic comedy, “This Means War,” his first directorial job since 2009s “Terminator Salvation.”

The film follows two very close CIA agents, FDR Foster (Chris Pine) and Tuck (Tom Hardy). Right from the start, these two definitely appear to be engaged in some sort of deep bromance.

I almost found myself wondering why they even needed to include Lauren (Reese Witherspoon) in the plot – clearly these guys are totally in love with each other until she comes along.

Foster is the type who spends his free time at the clubs and movie rental hotspots looking for lonely and desperate women to take home. Tuck is at the opposite end of the spectrum; recently divorced, he is a sensitive guy who is looking for a long-term, meaningful relationship.

Tuck decides to try his hand at online dating and almost immediately stumbles across Lauren. Coincidentally enough, Foster meets the same girl just after Tuck’s first date with her. Lauren could possibly lead to the demise of a once beautiful bromance.

She used to be a girl who was frustrated with a complete lack of a dating life, and now she is faced with having to choose between what she believes are two really great guys.

Her best friend Trish (Chelsea Handler) isn’t much help either, as she seems to just want to live vicariously though Lauren’s prospective sexual conquests.

Handler’s appearance in this movie immediately irritated me. I think her TV show, “Chelsea Lately,” has been stale for some time, but at least I can change the channel when I’m at home. Anyhow, Handler is now trying her hand at acting in Hollywood movies.

By acting, I mean spilling forth the same type of tactless one-liners that she does on her show, only this time, she’s trying as hard as she can not to look at the camera.

Although the film is filed under action, comedy and romance, it doesn’t have an overabundance of any of these. It just tastes like a somewhat bland stew of the three genres all mixed together.

For the most part, the action scenes were nothing to write home about. It was difficult to follow what was really going on, which is becoming commonplace in Hollywood these days.

The comedy element was never really the front runner either. While “This Means War” has its moments, it’s more reasonable to call it silly than comedic. However, if a movie is considered a comedy, I expect that it’s going to make me laugh, not chuckle a few times.

With all this being said, “This Means War” was moderately entertaining. Perhaps its strongest element is that it doesn’t take itself too seriously, nor does it appear to try and fit neatly into any of these pre-packaged genres.

Even though I wasn’t expecting anything significant, I still walked away thinking the lack of action left the movie feeling incomplete.

Most of the actual plot comes from things like setting up audio and video surveillance into nearly every facet of Lauren’s life so the two men can monitor their progress, or lack thereof.

That aspect of the movie felt like a spin-off of “What Women Want” with surveillance cameras.

The bottom line is “This Means War” is a slightly tolerable hodge-podge of genres, that at least spared a few guys from enduring “The Vow” over Valentine’s weekend.