This Means War

Movie review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
This Means War Movie Poster Image
Lackluster action romcom has violence, sexual references.
  • PG-13
  • 2012
  • 98 minutes

Parents say

age 16+
Based on 13 reviews

Kids say

age 14+
Based on 30 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

The movie's ultimate message is that you shouldn't put on an act while you're dating someone. But for most of the movie, both men are using information they've acquired as CIA agents to woo Lauren under false premises. Still, Lauren decides that the only advice she needs isn't "who's the better guy" but who makes her the better girl.

Positive Role Models & Representations

At first, the guys are willing to back away from Lauren when each realizes that the other is seeing her, too, but then they decide to vie for her affections. The two agents don't play fairly and pretend to be interested in things only because they know Lauren loves them.


Plenty of action-packed, quickly edited violence. Characters die, but it's not gory -- several are shot in quick succession; another falls off the side of a building. Tuck and FDR threaten a possible informant with a wrench and get into fights during their missions. Explosions, gun shots, hand-to-hand combat, and martial arts moves, but the body count isn't high, and the scenes are so fast paced that you can barely tell who's hurt where.


One love scene (the woman is shown in her bra and panties; the man is shirtless), plus lots of make-out scenes and references to sex -- like when Lauren decides to have a "sex tiebreaker," or her best friend, Trish, discusses who looks like he'd have "dirty sex." Trish also encourages Lauren to talk about the fact that she was a gymnast, because guys like women who are "flexible" and can do certain things in bed. A man describes sex as "entered the premises"; two best friends swear not to have sex with Lauren but then do it anyway.


One "f--k" and several uses of "s--t," plus "ass," "bitch," "bastard," "damn," "horny pants," "p---y," "d--k," "hell," "crap," "oh my God," "idiots," etc.


Many shots of Mac computers and various cars, including a Camaro, a Suburban, an Audi, and a BMW.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Adults drink socially at various dinners and dates. One character stashes alcohol in a sippy cup and at one point refers to her drink as "mommy's special milk." She also refers to her marital sex appointment as doing it "with Cheetos and wine."

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that This Means War is a romantic comedy-meets-spy thriller with lots of sexual innuendo, passionate kissing, and action violence (including shooting and some deaths, though nothing particularly graphic). The language includes one use of "f--k," as well as "s--t," "bitch," "ass," "d--k," and the like. There's one love scene and several references to sex (including doing it with two guys as a "tiebreaker") and many make-out scenes. Although the movie's premise is comical, it can also send the iffy message that lying about who you are can win someone's heart. Note: The movie was initially rated R but was re-rated PG-13 upon appeal.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 13-year-old Written byHanna_Yaseen September 1, 2019
Parent Written bySilvia C. December 27, 2018

Not properly rated

This movie was rated 7 in Spain, and my husband started watching it with my 9-year-old daughter a few days ago. They did not finished it and my 12 year old and... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byJugheadJones101 October 13, 2019

Way too much sex

TOO many sex scenes one scene they are eating cheetos and having sex another they do it in the kitchen and on the counter in another they do it in bed in anothe... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old August 19, 2019

Trash and inappropriate!

I saw it at a sleepover and there were two or three dirty sex scenes and they made out on a trampoline.
A fail of a film and no idea why it was made.

What's the story?

CIA partners FDR (Chris Pine) and Tuck (Tom Hardy) are best friends who have each other's back at all times ... until they both fall for the same woman, Lauren (Reese Witherspoon). When they realize that they're both seeing her, the pals agree to compete for her affection and then enlist their coworkers to start spying on her to get the inside track to win her heart. Meanwhile, the spies have to contend with Heinrich (Til Schweiger), a vengeful international arms dealer whose brother died because of FDR and Tuck. But they're too busy wooing Lauren to realize that the German baddie has figured out exactly how to enact his revenge.

Is it any good?

THIS MEANS WAR's premise is admittedly cute, and it stars a trio of appealing, talented actors, but it doesn't have much else going for it. Unfortunately, it fails to deliver on anything but a few easy laughs and a constant reminder that Witherspoon is one of Hollywood's irresistible sweethearts. Its downfall is that the central love triangle features the stereotypical foils of a fun-loving and sweet (read: boring) single dad (Hardy) versus a womanizing cad with a secret heart of gold (read: edgy), played by Pine.

These guys act like fraternity brothers who've bet on who can bed a girl first, all under the guise of discovering true love. But true love isn't based on subterfuge and spies. And regardless of whom Lauren chooses, neither man is truly worthy of her, because they both lie to her and endanger their friendship in the process. Sure, there's a supposedly happy ending, but it feels like the decks are fundamentally stacked against the nice guy, since he doesn't undergo a big personality change during the courtship. While all three leads have all been great in other films, this one is a forgettable disappointment.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about why so many movies, books, and more revolve around the premise of a love triangle. What's the appeal of that kind of story? Do you think it's a realistic situation?

  • What messages does This Means War send about relationships? Do you think Lauren treats one or both of the men unfairly? Are the men wrong to spy on Lauren to get ahead in the competition for her love? Parents, talk to your teens about your own values regarding love and relationships.

  • Tuck's ex-wife becomes interested in him again when she finds out he's really a CIA agent. Are women only interested in men with "cool" or well-paying jobs? Would you want to be in a relationship with someone whose interest in you was based on your job?

Movie details

  • In theaters: February 14, 2012
  • On DVD or streaming: May 22, 2012
  • Cast: Chris Pine, Reese Witherspoon, Tom Hardy
  • Director: McG
  • Studio: Twentieth Century Fox
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Topics: Friendship
  • Run time: 98 minutes
  • MPAA rating: PG-13
  • MPAA explanation: sexual content including references, some violence and action, and for language (on appeal; previously rated R)
  • Last updated: March 14, 2020

Our editors recommend

For kids who love romcoms and thrills

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