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March 20, 2009

March Movie Reviews

What to watch on the big screen

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SHALL WE KISS? Can a full-on, swoony lip lock ever be innocent, a kiss without consequences? We wish. Virginie Ledoyen as married Judith puts that question to the test when her neurotic, single best friend Nicolas (writer/director Emmanuel Mouret) becomes starved for physical affection. Reversing a tired cliché, here's a guy who can't enjoy sex without romance first. This droll French rom-com follows the duo's efforts not to fall in love, with doomed but delightful ploys that include actually trying for bad sex. The wily script nudges us to wonder if Nicolas is as helpless and nerdy as he seems or Judith as gullible. Ledoyen creates a charmingly down-to-earth heroine, the kind of mythical Frenchwoman who makes a simple crisp white shirt seem preposterously glam and the most outlandish propositions--like tricking her wonderful hunky husband into leaving her--sound downright sensible. Another of Judith's friends recounts the whole sordid story as a cautionary tale after a handsome stranger asks her for a no-ties smooch. No need to resist this enchanting, airy trifle with a surprisingly sober twist.

17 AGAIN An older man's brain locked in Disney-cookie Zac Efron's hard body is a fantasy we'll embrace. Mike (Matthew Perry) gets a do-over 20 years later and wakes up as his 17-year-old self. It's still 2009, and his own kids are now classmates whom he befriends, which makes his ex-wife his new pals' hot mom (real-life hot mom Leslie Mann). The savvy cast raises this comedy above its family-friendly, 13 Going on 30 premise. Endearingly funny, Efron channels Perry's gestures and inflections. Makes us glad our senior year stayed over.

LYMELIFE An outbreak of Lyme disease is the least of anyone's problems in director Derick Martini's truthful slice of suburban life set in 1979. Nerd Scott (Rory Culkin) lives with unhappiness: adulterous dad (Alec Baldwin), repressed mom (Jill Hennessy), screwed-up neighbors (Timothy Hutton and Cynthia Nixon). But Scott's coming-of-age story is overshadowed by Emma Roberts (Nancy Drew star and Julia's niece) as his crush. As a girl just beginning to recognize her sexual power, Roberts moves one step closer to adult stardom.

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