The Lost Art Of The Bad Movie.

It's not about the size of the gun. Er. Mostly.
So here's the deal. I didn't particularly want to see this one. Anyone could tell from the trailer that it was going to be another poor attempt at bringing "guy's night" to "date night". The girls will like it because it's a romance with hunks Chris Pine and Tom Hardy and the guys will like it because it's got, like, things-that-go-boom and, like, stuff, right? Oh my god, gag me with a spoon! Anyway, the plus side of moving to Atlanta is living with my girl, spending time with her, doing lesbian things like petting cats and driving pick ups and going to Home Depot just for the lumber smells. The downside is compromise, which means watching The Bachelor, Dr. Phil, and romantic comedies like This Means War. And so I bit the bullet and took her out to the theaters. We got popcorn, sat in the back, held hands. And then something really strange happened. I enjoyed it. And everything Dr. Phil says is right.

I know what you're thinking. M., you've gone soft. Mushy. Soon you'll be putting up The Powerpuff Girls as your BAMF of the week and whining about The Walking Dead would be better if there wen't so many icky, decomposing zombies. Wrong. Trust me, I wanted this movie to be godawful. I wanted to bitch about Reese Witherspoon's face. I wanted to leave the theater and find a toothpick to lobotomize the part of my brain that had processed the last two hours.

And then Til Schweiger stepped in the room.

As someone who doesn't familiarize themselves with German comedies on a regular basis, this is what I saw when he came on screen:

So we've got Hugo Stiglitz, Kirk, and Eames all in one movie. I'm suddenly feeling a little more confident about my chances of making it out of here alive. The plot runs something like this: Tom Hardy and Chris Pine play two CIA spies who work well together and have a great "playboy vs. professional" bromance going. COOL. Heinrich (Hugo Stiglitz) is the evil German who is doing...something...ambiguous and evil. COOL. All goes to hell when Reese Witherspoon's face shows up and the two spies fight for her affection. NOT COOL.

I'll start with the positive. The acting was, of course, spot on. Tom Hardy has yet to disappoint me, and since he's been everything from Handsome Bob to Bronson, I can cut the man a little slack. He's about to be the lead villain in a fucking Batman movie, I don't think anyone's worried about his career going into the shitter because of one Valentine's day ploy of a romantic comedy. And, quite frankly, he plays so many eccentric, bold characters, it was kind of nice to see him play the family man with a stick up his ass. Chris Pine (also soon-to-be in the Star Trek sequel...I'm not too worried about him) played his usual bad boy with a heart of gold demeanor, so I knew he'd pull it off well. Hugo Stiglitz is a fucking badass, so his presence was enough to keep me entertained even if his role was shoved a little too far under the rug.

Then there's Reese Witherspoon. I normally don't hold grudges against actors because they can't always help the roles they're giving. But really, bitch? Really? She's made an entire career out of playing dumb blondes and Mary Sues. If her characters weren't annoying enough, you can't even throw in the towel and say "well, she may be a shit actress, but at least I'll have a nice pair to stare at for a couple hours." No. She's intentionally irritating and somehow makes a lot of money. I don't get it. Her character might as well have just been played by a Hallmark that opens up every once in a while to deliver a cheesy pre-recorded romantic line. At least it would've been an interesting romance, as inanimate objects are all the rage these days.

Why does this look familiar?
But the good acting (and the irritating acting) didn't surprise me. They're big names. I expected it. What I didn't expect was for the script to be...well. Actually good. Let me explain what I mean by "good" in this context. This wasn't, in any way, shape, or form Apocalypse Now. Instead, it was a movie that knew exactly how crappy it was, and so strived to be the most entertaining crap it could be. And you know what? I was entertained. It's been a long time since we've had bad movies that are actually enjoyable. Instead, we get crap like Priest (2011), a movie that might've been good if they had just cracked a smile. Bad movies have got to stop taking themselves seriously. Let's face it, Expendables, you're all classic heroes and I will root for you all the way, but John McClane didn't become the ultimate badass by standing there with his hands on his hips and waiting for his Oscar moment. I've got a shit ton more respect for a movie that pokes fun at itself than I do for a movie that rocks back and forth on the highest of high horses for two hours. Which is the long way of saying This Means War knew exactly what it was, it knew that it was ridiculous, and it let itself be just that. Ridiculous, good fun. Did the romance fall short? Sure, but no one was expecting this to be the next great love story. So they played up the bromance, which, since helmed by two excellent actors, was perfectly believable and actually gave us something to root for. And then when the audience started to nod off, they upped the ante with another scene of Hugo Stiglitz being badass, which worked to wake everyone back up again.

Is this the movie of the year? No, it isn't. Hell, I won't even suggest you pay good bucks to see it in theaters. But I will tell you that, in case you're dragged along to see it, maybe leave the do-it-yourself lobotomy kit at home. You might surprise yourself by catching a glimpse of an increasingly endangered species in cinema, the good bad movie. 


  1. I really need to see this film!! I need Chris Pine in my life. Thank you for not hating on him. Everyone else does because Tom Hardy is the new shiny toy (not that I hate him in any way). And Hugo <3
    Great review. Exactly the same reasons I want to watch this + Chris's sparkly eyes.

  2. If you're a big Chris Pine fan, you will most definitely love enjoy this one. He's a womanizing manwhore, what else do you need? To be honest, the only things I've seen him in are Star Trek and Smoking Aces, so I enjoy him immensely. Speaking of, if you're googoo for his sparkly eyes, I recommend Smoking Aces. But only in that sadistic I-think-it-will-break-your-brain way. He plays an incest baby southern hick neo-nazi you-fill-in-the-blanks. It's genius.

  3. Nice review. All of these leads try their hardest, but the script just lets them down too much with terrible jokes and very ugly feeling underneath this premise. I'm still surprised to actually see this getting all of the love that it's actually getting from critics but then again, I guess certain people don't mind these types of movies.

  4. Wow. I'll have to give this one a look. And thanks for not picking the Powerpuff girls as BAMF of the week. Haha.

  5. @ Dan O.--Thanks! It's definitely not any "movie of the year" material, but it is what it is. You can't pick up dog crap and will it to be gold. Still, I think the premise was so rotten to begin with it's really hard to get any worse than the tagline.

    @ Brent--Unless you have some investment in the movie, I'd probably wait until it's out of theaters to see it. A good bad movie, but doesn't have enough explosions to really warrant a big screen. And trust me, my pleasure.

  6. LMAO I love a good bad movie, especially when they star Bruce Campbell. I was going to avoid this like a disease, but I may have to watch when it finally hits DVD. God knows I'm not going to pay blackmailer theater prices.

    And yes, no Powerpuff Girls. ;) Are they even girls?

  7. I actually enjoyed this one a lot more than I thought I would. I thought it was funny, entertaining and very enjoyable to watch. And it was full of fresh, pretty faces. :)
    Fabulous review!

  8. truly, you make it sound like a modern-day Tango & Cash. Thank you, M!

  9. Wait. Is someone suggesting that Tango & Cash is a, um, bad movie?

    Fucking blasphemy.

  10. @ Melissa--Can you believe I have yet to see The Evil Dead? One of those things I will get on...soon! It's a pretty good DVD movie, for one of those rainy days when you literally have nothing better to do. But you have to go into it expecting nothing or else it loses all its charm.

    I'm pretty sure they're test tube babies made of snips and snails and puppy dog tails.

    @ Nebular--Fresh, pretty faces is always a good thing! Except for Witherspoon, I was less than impressed with her. But thanks! I've got to agree--I definitely enjoyed this one a lot more than I thought I would.

    @ Thaddeus--You're welcome! I have not seen Tango & Cash, but I think I have to. The 80s and Kurt Russell are music to my ears.

    @ m.brown--Now I really have to get on this one, just to end the controversy. Hitting the to-see list!


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