Flores: A hybrid spy/romantic comedy flick offers laughs

Secret agents and best pals FDR (Chris Pine, left) and Tuck (Tom Hardy) wrap up a dangerous mission in Hong Kong that goes awry, landing them on desk duty for the CIA in Los Angeles in 'This Means War.'

It seems that spy movies are the flavor of the month and I saw another one last weekend. But this spy movie was a hybrid with a romantic comedy, with more leanings toward the latter category.

    Tuck (Tom Hardy) and FDR (Chris Pine) are CIA agents who work together to bring in criminal masterminds in far-flung locales. Tuck is earnest and focused on getting the job done while FDR is a ladies’ man who gets easily distracted by the task at hand. He is partly to blame when the two botch a covert job to bring in a pair of criminals who happen to be brothers. First, the job is far from covert since they start firing inside a fancy hotel. Second, they cause the death of one brother, giving the second brother Heinrich (Til Schweiger) plenty of reason to exact revenge.

    For their bad work their supervisor Collins (Angela Bassett) grounds them to a CIA office in Los Angeles. They are on desk duty until further notice. The time in LA gives Tuck a chance to visit his young son. He blew his relationship with the boy’s mother, who thinks he is a travel agent, and he’s interested in meeting someone new.

    Lauren (Reese Witherspoon) works for a consumer research company and loves her job. But when she runs into an ex-boyfriend on the street (looking sweaty and unkempt from a gym workout) she starts to doubt herself when she realizes he is engaged. He friend Trish (Chelsea Handler) tells her she needs to get out in the world of dating. With the sarcastic wit that Handler is known for, Trish encourages Lauren to try out online dating. Lauren is resistant because she is worried she will meet a serial killer on one of the sites.

    Without her knowledge, Trish creates a profile for Lauren that includes information that is mostly misleading. At first, Lauren just wants to take down the profile, but instead she decides to go out with one of the guys.

    She agrees to meet Tuck for coffee. Meanwhile, FDR finds out that Tuck has made a date with a woman from an online site. He offers to watch out for his friend in case the woman is wacky, or just not what Tuck wants. While Tuck and Lauren have coffee at a sidewalk café, FDR is nearby at a movie rental store. Tuck gives FDR that signal that things are fine and FDR spends his time at the movie store hitting on single women.

    Of course things get complicated when Lauren pops into the movie store after her date. FDR tries to pick up on her, but she blows him off. She thinks he is a player and she’s not interested. FDR, not used to being rebuffed, uses his CIA chops to find out her name by having a coworker hack into the movie rental store’s database. He says it is related to the Heinrich case. He finds out where she works and shows up at a consumer product review panel.

    She finally gives in and agrees to have dinner with him, just to get him to leave her alone while she is working. When FDR returns to the office he tells Tuck he convinces the movie rental girl to go out with him. Tuck says he has another date with his girl, too. When they open up a photo of her on their laptop, they realize they are dating the same girl. FDR at first offers to bow out since Tuck went out with Lauren first.

    But when FDR makes an off-hand comment that it wouldn’t be a fair competition, Tuck decides to take on the challenge. They both agree to some rules for dating Lauren – they won’t tell her that they know each other, they want sleep with her and they will remain friends after she makes her choice.

    FDR almost looses the competition before it begins. He takes Lauren to an exclusive night club and shows off how many people he knows there. She is turned off by it and walks out before the date really begins. But when she runs into her ex on the street again, she can’t resist using FDR to make the ex jealous. After her spastic response to seeing the ex, she agrees to going to some hole-in-the-wall restaurant with him for dinner.

    Lauren is torn between the two men and her best friend Trish is no help. Trish tells her to keep dating both the guys and enjoy it without feeling bad – because that is what most men would do. So Lauren continues to see Tuck and FDR. The two, however, are having a hard time remaining friendly. Soon they are both enlisting their own tactical teams to spy on Lauren, claiming that she is related to the Heinrich case. They find out what she likes and what she doesn’t like about them, and they adjust accordingly.

    The movie is funny, though some of Handler’s jokes are a little off-color. It is predictable, however, and the end will come as no surprise. The spy premises is mostly used to further the romantic comedy plot so don’t expect a lot of action scenes. The actual CIA spy plot is mostly limited to the beginning and end of the film.


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