Hurdle #1 - Reese Witherspoon can't find any eligible men to date. Her character, Lauren, is obviously wealthy (one look at her LA home and you know this woman's day job pays her in, at the very least, a mid-6 figure salary), attractive, and seems to have a decent personality and a sense of humor. It takes her perfect one-liner spouting cardboard cut-out friend, played by Chelsea Handler, creating an online dating profile that seems to indicate she's easy for her to find a date.
Hurdle #2 - Tom Hardy and Chris Pine, two immensely easy on the eyes gentlemen, play CIA agents/BFFs who both wind up meeting her and, despite their friendship and the fact they've saved each other quite a few times during dangerous assignments, within hours commit to making her the center of a challenge. They've only met with her once when they decide to put their friendship and working relationship on the line in order to see who can bag this one woman in a city full of gorgeous babes.
Hurdle #3 - Both Hardy and Pine's characters - Tuck and FDR - live in huge multi-million dollar homes.
Hurdle #4 - These seasoned CIA agents put their actual work duties on hold in order to use all of the CIA's resources - drones, surveillance equipment, other CIA agents, etc, etc, etc, - to stalk and manipulate this woman who has no idea that Tuck and FDR are A) CIA agents, B) engaging in a competition to win her over, and C) friends. Everything about their wooing of Lauren is fake and comes from having invaded her privacy, but Lauren's unaware her every word and every move is being monitored.
Hurdle #5 - Lauren never catches on that either of these two men - who she ultimately decides she must sleep with in order to figure out which guy to dump - couldn't possibly know as much about her likes, dislikes, and background without having spied on her and/or done some extensive background checking. She's clueless and really nothing but a pretty pawn in this contest between two highly trained spies.
Hurdle #6 - The best friend character (see Hurdle #1) comes up with what are supposed to be knock-'em-dead one-liners and never actually engages in a normal conversation. This character travels from comedy to comedy, sometimes effectively breaking up tension, sometimes filling in as a supporting character the writers thought they needed but forgot to actually do anything useful with. In This Means War, she's there to be a part of conversations eavesdropped on by the two privacy-invading stalkers gathering intel for their 'who's got the bigger unit' competition.
Yes, This Means War is a ridiculous comedy and all the naughtiness by the two CIA agents is played for laughs. Logic and reality are supposed to be set aside as we watch Hardy and Pine as Tuck and FDR put their bromance on the line for a little friendly competition over Witherspoon's Lauren. And yes, the cast is immensely charming. But the dialogue is stale and the jokes have a been-there done-that but let's reuse them anyway feel to them. And is it asking too much for just one element of reality to be thrown into the mix?
This Means War just doesn't cut it as either a romantic date movie or a must-see action comedy. This mash-up is just a big old mess-up.
Theatrical Release: A sneak peek in 2000+ screens on February 14, 2012 followed by a wide release on February 17th.