"This Means War" owes much of its power to the chemistry between Chris Pine, Tom Hardy and Reese Witherspoon, but there's another essential ingredient in place: screenwriter Timothy Dowling ("Role Models," "Just Go With It"). MTV News spoke with Dowling to get the scoop on the tools of his trade with regard to his work on "War."
Although the Hardy/Pine/Witherspoon action-comedy didn't bring in huge numbers in its opening weekend, audience polls at RottenTomatoes.com and CinemaScore reflect much higher satisfaction with the film than what the critics had to say.
"I always feel like writing scripts is putting a puzzle together," said Dowling. "The fun of ['This Means War'] was that we've all seen buddy action movies, so it would be kind of fun if we start out act one feels like typical buddy action movie and near the end of act one, we're thrown into romantic comedy. That to me was the initial hook."
Dowling explained that despite the challenges of blending action, comedy and romance, his main objective was to make the audience care about the characters, and making them as realistic as possible within the confines of several outlandish scenarios that play out in the story.
"For me the movie is about what's more important: Your best friend or the love or your life? And what happens when those come into conflict with each other? So Chris and Tom’s relationship was really important to me and to maintain that," Dowling said, adding that he wanted the woman they fight for to be more than the typical "hot chick" character we've all seen before.
"It was very important to me because there is a a version of this where the female lead is just beautiful and for me she’s got to be much more than that or we’re not going to want to see these guys go after her," he said. "You have to buy that she’s so great that they would possibly give up their friendship for this person. Reese [Witherspoon] is kind of the epitome of those things."
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