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Movie Reviews
by Jay Saenz

This Means War (05/22/2012)


Rated PG-13 for sexual content including references, some violence and action, and for language.

Directed by McG (Executive Producer for Chuck, Supernatural)

Starring Reese Witherspoon, Chris Pine, Tom Hardy


Jay's Rating: Only if Free

This Means War seemed like a perfect Valentine’s Day compromise; the trailer looked actiony with plenty of typical rom-com stuff thrown in, perfect for any couple, right? My fiancé and I went to see this together, and though our expectations weren’t exactly high, we both thought we were going to get a pretty enjoyable night out of it.

Somehow, we both left the theatre disappointed.

If you haven’t seen the trailer, This Means War takes a traditional love-triangle story and spices it up by adding spies and gadgets. Chris Pine (Star Trek) and Tom Hardy (Inception, Warrior) are FDR and Tuck, two elite CIA spies who both end up interested in the same girl, Lauren (Reese Witherspoon). When they realize this, they decide that they are both going to continue dating her, letting her decide between them. Then shenanigans ensue when FDR and Tuck start using their CIA training and resources to sabotage each other.

So even though the movie is technically about Lauren, This Means War focuses more on Tuck and FDR’s competition over her. Tuck and FDR ended up having more on stage chemistry with each other than either of them did with Lauren, and the “romance” aspect of the film boiled down to which of the two of them could pull off the most extravagant date. (You know, instead of them connecting with her on an emotional or personal level?) You see this a lot with teen films, like She’s All That, or 10 Things I Hate About You—both of which I enjoyed more than this—but it was weird seeing it played out by adult actors.

And since the actors were all adults, the film’s creators could get away with talking about sex. A lot. Worse, sex is mostly seen as a joke throughout this movie. Lauren’s friend Trish, who is married, encourages Lauren to have sex with the two men to decide between them. She also implies that premarital sex is a much better option than married sex. Throughout the movie, not having sex is seen as a source of embarrassment, to the point that Lauren lies about the amount of sex she is having. I could maybe understand all that in a movie for adults, but This Means War is rated PG-13, and I can’t imagine how awkward it would be for a parent sitting next to their thirteen-year-old or—even worse—letting the kids go see this alone.

Lastly, I feel like this movie suffered from a trailer that showed too much. In places where I would normally be laughing or chuckling, I found myself thinking “Oh, that was in the trailer…” This is not to say that This Means War wasn’t funny at all; it had some good moments, but I just don’t like it when a two minute trailer contains most of the interesting moments in an hour and a half movie.

Which is really my point: This Means War wasn’t terrible, it was just so mediocre that it wasn’t much worth seeing at all. The comedy was decent but not anything you’re going to find yourself quoting throughout the week. The action was pretty good, but nothing spectacular. All things considered, watching This Means War won’t ruin your night, but there are far better ways to spend your money.


SHOULD KIDS SEE IT?
Lots of language, sh**, di**, etc. and lots of conversations about casual sex.

No nudity, but lots of skimpily clad women. Reese makes out with a guy in her underwear and is seen later wearing just a sweatshirt. A scene occurs in a club with women dancing on tables. The male characters are seen shirtless a couple times.

No sex is shown, but it is implied.

High paced action, but no gore.


Conversation Starter:

  1. How does FDR change through his relationship with Lauren?

  2. How does Tuck change through his relationship with Lauren?

  3. How does Tuck and FDR’s relationship change throughout the movie?

  4. Is it normal to change through your relationships with others?

  5. The Bible says that a relationship with Jesus will change us. What are the products that the Bible says a relationship with Jesus will produce? (Fruits of the Spirit)

  6. With that in mind, would you consider the relationships in This Means War healthy?

  7. Which of the fruits of the spirit do you most see produced in your life?

  8. Which of the fruits of the spirit do you think you have trouble with? What steps can you take to change that?




Jay Saenz Jay Saenz is the pastor of 4th and 5th grade ministry at a church in Garland, TX. He loves to teach and does his best to use current films to help make biblical points. Jay has always loved stories. It doesn’t matter what form they take; if someone has a story to tell, Jay is ready to hear it, be it a movie, TV show, play, novel, comic, or interpretive dance. He would love to study each form separately, but since he is currently still only one person, he decided to focus on Film. When there are no pressing films to watch, Jay likes to cook, write and run.



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