'This Means War' Features Spies, Sex, and a Scene-Stealing Second Banana

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Chelsea Handler in a scene from 20th Century Fox's This Means War - 2012

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Chelsea Handler in a scene from 20th Century Fox's This Means War - 2012

The new spy comedy "This Means War" features Chris Pine and Tom Hardy as FDR and Tuck, two government agents who both fall for Lauren, an attractive product tester played by Reese Witherspoon. Although they have a "gentleman's agreement" to let their lady love choose the guy she likes best, each man uses federal resources to gain an unfair advantage in their romantic entanglements.

Although the physical comedy here can be absurdly funny at times, especially the use of tranquilizer darts, comedienne Chelsea Handler threatens to steal the show at times in a second banana role. Handler is outrageous as Trish, Lauren's oversexed and outspoken best friend. Trish delivers inconsistent dating advice and encourages Lauren to take full advantage of her situation, namely having two handsome men fighting for her affections.

Handler's offbeat performance brings to mind Tom Arnold's surprising supporting turn in "True Lies," a 1994 comedy about a spy who keeps his double-life a secret from his wife and daughter. Coming off the quickly-canceled sitcoms "The Jackie Thomas Show" and "Tom," Arnold shows his acting chops as Albert "Gib" Gibson, best friend and coworker of Harry Tasker (Arnold Schwarzenegger). Gib delivers some of the funniest lines in the film, complaining about being stuck in the surveillance van while his buddy gets the glamorous work.

Like the two spies in "This Means War," Harry and Gib use expensive government equipment for purely personal reasons. Tom Arnold shines once again when his character interrogates Harry's wife behind a one-way mirror and asks increasingly personal questions while his buddy is sitting right next to him.

Mel Gibson and Danny Glover had great chemistry throughout the "Lethal Weapon" franchise as Martin Riggs and Roger Murtaugh, two law enforcement agents who have different methodologies. In the second film, second banana Joe Pesci became a scene-stealer when he joined the cast as Leo Getz, a federal witness who simply would not shut up. Leo also wanted to be part of the action, forcing Riggs and Murtaugh to keep him stuck in the car.

Pesci's funniest moments involve an explanation of how to launder money for the mob. Punctuating every sentence with the phrase "OK, OK," Leo outlined the steps needed to turn ill-gotten gains into cash with a seemingly legitimate history. Rumors now are circulating about one final "Lethal Weapon" movie, with Pesci reprising the memorable Leo Getz for one final appearance.

Films like "This Means War" tend to have the star power, but it seems the second bananas are the one who have the comedic weapons at their disposal.

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