Late last year, I had the pleasure of reviewing the wonderful 1933 comedy Design for Living — the story about two men who both fall for the same girl and decide to form a “gentlemen’s agreement” to remain friends with each other as well as the woman in question. Of course, times have changed. Were you to make a film like Design for Living today, you’d wind up with something so pedestrian and impractical, you’d have to hire some hack like McG to direct, a lousy writer such as Simon (X-Men: The Last Stand) to write, and a number of unappealing “hot” young pretty-faced performers like Reese Witherspoon, Chris Pine, and Tom Hardy to star.
Of course, the end-result would be far more disagreeable as the sum of its parts. Sure, it would look slightly funny if one were to see its theatrical trailer — perhaps somewhat uproarious, in fact. Alas, when it came time to watch the movie itself — and it would probably bear some absurd, uninspired title like This Means War — the promise of hysterical amusement would fail to deliver.
Yes, kids, This Means War is a contemporary, colorless take on those crazy love triangles many people occasionally find themselves in. The story here has two CIA operatives (Pine and Hardy) — who are also best friends — combating each other via a multitude of million-dollar resources at their disposal after they both fall for the same woman (Witherspoon) after her friend (Chelsea Handler, playing the archetypal goofy, loud, foulmouthed woman) places her on a dating website. Naturally, the film’s writers — realizing they have absolutely nothing to go on here other than a speck of an idea — add the tired action subplot to the fray, bringing in Til Schweiger as a villain out to get our two agents after they kill his brother in the film’s opening.
Helming this messterpiece is that revered master of disaster himself, McG (look, just go by your real name, dude — it’s not like you’re a rapper or anything) — the guy who not only produced The O.C., but who also directed both of those god-awful Charlie’s Angels films as well. Also appearing in this unfunny tripe are Angela Bassett and Rosemary Harris (in small, wasted roles), with David Koechner appearing in a scene in the Extended Cut that is also available on this disc, along with the original Theatrical Version. Neither edit is worth your time, in my opinion.
Should you feel the urge to watch This Means War and — gulp — enjoy it, ten you might want to know that this Blu-ray/DVD Combo set contains several other special features as well. There are three alternate endings housed here (which should give you that much more of an inkling as to how much of a clue the filmmakers had with this one), all of which bear audio commentaries by the (ahem) director, who also commentates on the feature film itself on a separate audio track. The set also includes a gag reel (the whole film had me gagging), several deleted scenes, and a rough cut of an alternate opening as well as trailers for this and other Fox releases.
In terms of A/V quality, This Means War boasts a decent video presentation, with a much nicer 5.1 DTS-HD MA soundtrack. The Region Free Blu-ray disc also contains seven different other language tracks (ranging from Spanish to Turkish) and twenty-three subtitle options. The set also includes a Digital Copy of the flick (like I’d want to watch this again and on a smaller screen!).
Yuck. Absolute yuck.