Movies

UPDATED 08/27/2007 at 01:00 AM EDT Originally published 08/27/2007 at 01:00 AM EDT

Superbad
Jonah Hill, Michael Cera, Seth Rogen, Bill Hader | R |

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CRITIC'S CHOICE

COMEDY

If Earth was somehow destroyed by an atomic war, only two things would survive: cockroaches and tedious coming-of-age comedies about a high school boy's last-ditch quest to have sex before starting college. But the usually annoying genre—stale since 1999's American Pie—receives a long overdue rehabilitation in the super funny Superbad.

Two weeks before graduation, mousy Evan (Cera, perfecting the deadpan skills he honed on Arrested Development) and his bulldog pal Seth (Knocked Up's Hill) are convinced they can score with the girls of their dreams if they succeed in buying alcohol for that night's big bash, using a new fake ID acquired by third-wheel pal Fogell (newcomer Christopher Mintz-Plasse, riotous in his screen debut). Superbad wisely treats Evan and Seth like real teenagers, not the usual clichéd caricatures, and inserts them into wholly relatable situations: embarrassingly awkward interactions with the opposite sex ("They said that would happen in Health [class]") and silly conversations with friends ("Take off the vest; you look like Aladdin"). Still, the film isn't completely void of disarmingly outlandish moments. An incongruous, though hilarious, subplot centers on Fogell's drunken misadventures with goofball cops Rogen (who cowrote the film) and Hader.

Superbad might pretend it's all about the groin, but like this summer's other superb comedy Knocked Up (also from Judd Apatow, who produced Superbad), its favorite organ sweetly turns out to be the heart.

The Invasion
Nicole Kidman, Daniel Craig, Jeremy Northam | PG-13 |

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THRILLER

Something out there must really hate us. The space shuttle blows apart, blanketing the country in debris saturated with an ominous substance. Faster than you can say Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Washington, D.C., psychiatrist Carol Bennell (Kidman) notices strange behavior and poker faces popping up all around her. "My husband is not my husband," sobs one patient. It's the work of a quick-spreading alien virus that turns people into vacuous vessels (most victims receive it when an infectee thoughtfully vomits into their mouth). Teaming up with a doctor pal (Craig), Carol searches for her son, last seen with her infected ex-husband (Northam). The only way to avoid detection is to blend in with the rest of the automatons, displaying as little emotion as possible.

In other words, just replicate your muted response to sitting through The Invasion, which manages to elicit zero feelings whatsoever: no thrills, no chills, not even a yawn. In a film awash with blank expressions, even the reliably spry Craig can't save the day. (How do you neuter James Bond? Stick him in a snooty turtleneck.) Only during a thrillingly creepy car chase, where Kidman frantically tries to shake off a dozen pod people clinging to her sedan, does The Invasion awaken from its cozy slumber.

The 11th Hour
PG |

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DOCUMENTARY

Leonardo DiCaprio has long been at the forefront of environmental causes, but this is the first time he's ever recycled an entire movie. His documentary The 11th Hour (DiCaprio serves as host, producer and cowriter) revisits the same save-the-environment terrain as last year's An Inconvenient Truth. By trotting out dozens of "independent experts"—scientists, oceanographers, even Mikhail Gorbachev—to dryly make the case for developing renewable alternatives to reduce our overreliance on fossil fuels, Hour manages to be more ambitious but ultimately less effective. Who'd have thought that DiCaprio's charm was no match for Al Gore's simple yet dynamic PowerPoint presentation?

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