Poor Reese Witherspoon. She's always having to choose between two hunky guys: It happened in "Sweet Home Alabama." It happened in "How Do You Know." Even (sorta kinda) in "Legally Blonde."
Now she's forced to choose between Chris Pine as FDR and Tom Hardy as Tuck in "This Means War." (For what it's worth, I think she makes the wrong choice at the end, but everyone else is happy.) "This Means War" is the latest in the ongoing effort to entice those who love action comedy and those who love romantic comedy to the same movie. According to the post-Valentine's Day weekend returns, not much of either demographic showed up.
But I did, and I liked it. Sure it's silly and implausible and Witherspoon can be annoying, but I like the no-nonsense competence her character, Lauren, shows in most of this movie and the interplay between the two guys is clever, even when it's largely testosterone-driven.
FDR and Tuck are not just any rivals for the girl's affection. They are best buddies and covert operatives for the CIA. In Los Angeles. If that sounds like the TV show, "Chuck," it might not be accidental. Don't mess with success.
As CIA agents, the boys use their espionage abilities and equipment on the object of their affections. One almost balletic scene has them executing a brown bag operation on Lauren's apartment as she bops around obliviously, making popcorn and dancing to the music in the way you only do when you think no one is looking. (Me? No I don't do that. No.) FDR and Tuck's spying is pretty chaste, though you would have imagined at least one of these guys would be tempted to do some shower peeping on their target.
While trying to outdo each other in their wooing, they are also coping as a team with some sort of international bad guy whose brother they killed. What's it about and why? Doesn't matter. This part of the plot fades for long stretches while romance comes to the fore. That is, "This Means War" refers to the war between friends more than the war between countries. However, international evil surfaces occasionally, and the battling is so frenetic you can't quite tell what's going on. That's so you don't notice how artificial it all is.
Articial also probably applies to the dichotomy between Tuck -- earnest, in touch with feelings and ready for love -- and FDR -- shallow, in touch with his black book and ready for a score. Lauren must make her choice under threat of death, as a huge SUV careers toward her, ready to knock her into oblivion. She opts for ... I'm not telling.
But Witherspoon will probably just have to decide all over again in her next film. Kind of like "Groundhog Day" without the snow.