We were so glad to have all your input about movies! It threw things into a bit of a panic, because we'd been almost for sure planning to see Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (my sister-in-law and sister-in-law's sister were having an Oscar party the next night and hadn't seen that one yet), but the comments about it were so amusingly damning, it made us reconsider (though we also thought it might be very funny to see it with that mindset: I could picture us dying from stifled laughter during an exceptionally dull scene). But then the whole thing came down to a time-related choice, so our choices were Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, which we were pretty sure was going to be dullllllllll, and This Means War, which we were pretty sure was going to be dummmmmmmmb.
We finally had to flip a coin. A literal coin, which we actually flipped in order to choose our movie for us. The coin chose This Means War (the movie the poll also chose), a movie we were considering only because my sister-in-law read a review in Entertainment Weekly that was something along the lines of it being contrived fluff from beginning to end and yet highly enjoyable anyway for some unidentifiable reason.
And YES. What a good explanation! It's a movie I would have rejected from the poster: Reese Witherspoon in a little black dress standing sassily between two arms-folded hot guys in suits. ...Here, let me find it for you:
The plot is that two guys are competing for Reese Witherspoon's character. The gimmick is that both guys are CIA agents, so they have access to, like, spy helicopters and driver's license records to help them win the competition. Plus, they're both hugely wealthy and connected.
What made me really, really like the movie is that I felt like it was tongue-in-cheek. The action scenes seemed like they were for pure fun and didn't take themselves seriously: all guy fantasy stuff, with dangling off skyscrapers, leaping from car to car in a car chase, smash-falls onto tables/cars, tonnnnnns of shooting (often while simultaneously firing off witty remarks). The competition for the girl felt like it was funny in part because it was totally inappropriate to be competing in that way. Even the invasions of her privacy seemed like we ALL KNEW it was WILDLY WRONG, which made it very funny to me: it was so unapologetically over-the-top, it was funny in a way mild spying might not have been. And the guys are clearly meant to be enjoyable for the female audience (visually, but also to laugh at / roll eyes at / recognize types).
Downsides, let's see. Well, none of the three of us girls liked the romantic resolution (which seemed to take itself seriously after a whole movie of unserious), and there was a completely cheesy/condescending line there that still bugs me days later. (I did like the SECOND part of the romantic resolution.) And there were parts of the guys' characters/histories that seemed like they were there for pure emotional manipulation: oh, he had a tragedy in his past, that's why he's SUCH A CAD now, perhaps he can LEARN TO TRUST AGAIN. I also think they tried to overdo the whole "Reese Witherspoon as gawky nerd-type" thing, while still putting her in 6-inch heels in EVERY SCENE, including the one where she is BY HERSELF MAKING POPCORN IN HER APARTMENT, WEARING NO PANTS. And there are some moments of passion that immediately took the movie from "Oh, I should see this with my parents, they'd love it!!" to "NO WAY I AM SEEING THIS WITH THEM" in, like, one second. (That countertop looked COLD, and the careful posing on it looked...carefully posed. And the later casual reference to "five times" made me roll my eyes right out my ears.)
I think it helped tremendously to go into it thinking "contrived fluff." And it also helped that we went into it expecting to enjoy NEITHER movie option. And it helped that I think both guys are pretty cute, and that I like Reese Witherspoon. I really did enjoy it all the way through, though I'd be a little embarrassed to recommend it.
Gift ideas for an 8-year-old, part 2 of 2 - Last week I talked about the gifts we were getting/considering for Edward, who is turning 8 next month. This week it’s Elizabeth’s turn: not “girl gifts,” ...