Originally created 08/21/05

At the Movies: capsule reviews of new films



Capsule reviews of films opening this week:

"The 40-Year-Old Virgin" - Sex is easy, comedy is hard. A sex comedy that's not just a raunchy, moronic romp seems downright impossible. That's what makes this such a great ride. The title harkens to those single-minded slapstick-fests of the early 1980s, but don't let that throw you. In following the adventures of a man who has yet to do the deed at age 40, "Virgin" offers a mix of surprisingly subtle humor, inspired writing, meticulous details and a fabulously eclectic cast led by Steve Carell from "The Daily Show," utterly charming in his first starring role. It's hysterically funny, but what's truly refreshing is that Judd Apatow (who co-wrote the script with Carell and makes his film directing debut) clearly has genuine respect for this character. Catherine Keener and Paul Rudd co-star. R for pervasive sexual content, language and some drug use. 116 min. Three and a half stars out of four.

- Christy Lemire, AP Movie Critic

---

"Grizzly Man" - Timothy Treadwell was many things: infinitely charismatic, infectiously enthusiastic, childish, foolish, delusional and probably manic-depressive. He was also doomed, something we know before walking into Werner Herzog's extraordinary new documentary. That doesn't necessarily make Treadwell's story more tragic; by living among the bears in the Alaskan wild for a dozen years and treating them as if they were friends, it would seem his October 2003 mauling was inevitable. But it does make it morbidly compelling, and provides a natural jumping-off point for a number of larger issues regarding nature, civilization, spirituality, love, and even filmmaking itself. In placing himself in the frame for much of the action he documented, Treadwell proves he would have been the quintessential reality TV star if he hadn't already retreated to the wild before the advent of "Survivor." Herzog lets us fall in love with him - certainly this is a brave, interesting man doing brave, interesting work - before slowly, tantalizingly revealing his dark side. R for language. 103 min. Three and a half stars out of four.

- Christy Lemire, AP Movie Critic

---

"Red Eye" - Horror-meister Wes Craven departs from the garish gore of his "A Nightmare on Elm Street" days yet essentially sticks to the formula of his "Scream" flicks, minus the laughs. Like "Scream" and its sequels, this airborne thriller features a passive-aggressive heroine who beats up on a weenie preying on her. Rachel McAdams stars as a hotel manager on an overnight flight seated next to a man (Cillian Murphy) who threatens to kill her father (Brian Cox) unless she switches a key Homeland Securities official to a different room at her hotel to facilitate an assassination plot. The set-up is overlong and the climax features McAdams repetitively getting the better of Murphy, leaving only the fitfully suspenseful midsection to provide a few decent twists and exchanges between victim and tormentor. PG-13 for some intense sequences of violence and language. 85 minutes. Two stars out of four.

- David Germain, AP Movie Writer

---

"Supercross: The Movie" - You'd have to really love motorcycle racing to spend your money and 80 minutes of your life (that you'll never get back) to watch this mind-numbingly repetitive but ultimately wholesome action flick. You could see the same thing for free - with higher production values and snappier dialogue - watching X Games coverage on ESPN. Yes, the movie probably means well in its message of team spirit, but the road to get there feels endless and bumpy. Brothers K.C. and Trip Carlyle (Steve Howey and Mike Vogel) both seek success in the down-and-dirty world of competitive motocross through conflicting means following their father's death. A fraternal rift ensues. But the movie is really just a series of races, with inane dialogue in between, mostly about racing. PG-13 for language and some sexuality. 80 min. One star out of four.

- Christy Lemire, AP Movie Critic

---

"Valiant" - The filmmakers behind this animated tale expend a flutter of feathered energy and have assembled a top-notch British voice cast, including Ewan McGregor, John Cleese, Ricky Gervais, John Hurt, Tim Curry, Jim Broadbent and Olivia Williams. Yet laughs are scarce and little of the action resonates, while the World War II theme of pigeons doing their part for the Allied effort may prove dry for U.S. family audiences. McGregor provides the voice of the title character, an undersized birdie that signs up to carry messages across the English Channel. Computer animation overseen by first-time director Gary Chapman and producer John H. Williams, one of the filmmakers behind the "Shrek" movies, is solid but unremarkable compared to the visual feasts offered by digital-cartoon whizzes at Pixar ("Finding Nemo," "The Incredibles") and DreamWorks ("Shrek," "Madagascar"). G. 80 minutes. Two stars out of four.

- David Germain, AP Movie Writer