This Means War **+

February 19, 2012 by James Berardinelli - Reelviews
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Sometimes it’s hard to recognize the importance of seemingly inconsequential element like “tone” when it comes to a romantic comedy. This Means War is a case study in what happens when the filmmakers mess this up. The movie is being marketed as an “action romantic comedy,” but the “action” aspect is really just a little flavoring that shows up at the beginning and the end. It’s jokey action – a would-be parody of over-the-top spy situations like those in Bond movies and the recent Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol. But it’s clumsily presented, generating neither excitement nor humor. At the heart of the movie is a romantic triangle between three impossibly good-looking people who are so uninteresting that we keep hoping the sleazy bad guy will show up and shoot them all.

Maybe I’m being unreasonable. Maybe I’m asking too much that a romantic comedy makes me feel something other than apathy. Maybe it’s wrong of me to hope the most sympathetic character ends up with more than a throw-in consolation prize. I can’t say whether the biggest problem with This Means War lies in the direction, the acting, or the screenplay, but all three elements are contributors. Romantic comedies, especially those that overdose on steroids, are supposed to uplift. This one is just depressing.

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