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Capsule reviews of new releases 'The Debt,' 'A Good Old Fashioned Orgy'
Capsule reviews of films opening this week:
"The Debt" ' Classy, solid and well-acted, this is a rare bit of meaty, intelligent filmmaking during the ordinarily dreary final days of summer. With a cast that includes Helen Mirren, Tom Wilkinson and a tremendous Jessica Chastain, led by "Shakespeare in Love" director John Madden, it seems it would be hard to go wrong. Matthew Vaughn, the director of "Layer Cake" and "Kick-Ass," co-wrote the script. It's smart and tense but also frustrating; it almost feels too safe, too conservative and reserved in the way it hits its notes. Still, everything about it is so respectable, you may feel engrossed in the moment, yet forget about it soon afterward. Three former Mossad agents (Mirren, Wilkinson and Ciaran Hinds) are being celebrated at the launch of a book detailing their most important mission. Flashbacks to 1965, when the characters are played by Chastain, Martin Csokas and Sam Worthington, reveal what really happened. As it jumps back and forth in time, "The Debt" explores the conflict between expectations and reality, intellect and emotions, truth and regret. The film's gray areas are so intriguing that you'll wish it didn't rely on a facile love triangle to create further tension. R for some violence and language. 113 minutes. Three stars out of four.
' Christy Lemire, AP Movie Critic
"A Good Old Fashioned Orgy" ' There's something old-fashioned about "A Good Old Fashioned Orgy," but it's not the orgy. Alex Gregory and Peter Huyck's R-rated comedy feels more like a "Meatballs"-era summer romp, the kind we're generally either too cynical for now or we've simply outgrown. It's a party of a movie, for better or worse, with ambitions of generational resonance. Eric (Jason Sudeikis) would like to eradicate inhibition in a generation weaned on psychobabble, Blackberries and Radiohead. When his father decides to sell his East Hampton summer house, Eric and his early-30s friends (Tyler Labine, Martin Starr, Lake Bell, among them), decide to have a last-hurrah orgy. It sometimes looks like they had more fun making "Orgy" than we could possibly have watching it, but the good vibes are a big part of the movie's appeal. (It should be noted, though, that "Orgy," with its Hamptons setting and cargo shorts, is easily one of the whitest movies to come along in recent years.) The premise asks a lot of Sudeikis' charm, but group sex, to say the least, is a tough cookie. When the time comes, the awkwardness of the participants pales in comparison to the awkwardness of the audience. R for pervasive strong sexual content, graphic nudity and language. 95 minutes. Two stars out of four.
' Jake Coyle, AP Entertainment Writer