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"Accepted"

So maybe this isn't the most original movie in the world. It's a little like "Animal House," a little like "Revenge of the Nerds" and a lot like "Old School." It calls to mind elements of "Real Genius," "National Lampoon's Van Wilder" and "PCU," which starred a then-unknown Jeremy Piven and seems to be playing somewhere on cable television 24 hours a day - even though it came out in 1994. And maybe its premise isn't the most plausible: A bunch of slackers and weirdoes form their own college, where "liberal" doesn't even begin to describe the liberal arts education. Doesn't matter. "Accepted" is a lot more fun than you'd expect from a comedy coming out in the dead of summer. Directed by Steve Pink from a script by Adam Cooper, Bill Collage and Mark Perez, and featuring a performance from the infinitely likable up-and-comer Justin Long, the film has a certain subversive elan that keeps it light on its feet - until the very end, that is, when it turns self-righteous and takes itself way too seriously. Blake Lively, Jonah Hill and Lewis Black co-star. PG-13 for language, sexual material and drug content. 92 min. Two and a half stars out of four.

- Christy Lemire, AP Movie Critic

"The Illusionist"

This period piece about the power of magic lacks just that. The magic of romance, drama, longing and faith generally is missing in director Neil Burger's tale of a love triangle involving a magician, a noblewoman and the heir to the Austrian throne. Burger crafts a movie with a sumptuous visual palette but little heart, the characters detached and cold-blooded. It's no surprise that an inscrutable poker-face such as Edward Norton plays the title role as such a closed-book. It's quite a sleight of hand, though, for a film to thoroughly constrain a co-star as expressive as Paul Giamatti into a character so aloof he barely registers emotionally. Norton plays a magician in 1900 Vienna at odds with the crown prince (Rufus Sewell) and the police inspector (Giamatti) charged with debunking the prestidigitator's amazing illusions. Jessica Biel co-stars as the magician's childhood flame, now the jealous prince's fiance. PG-13 for some sexuality and violence. 109 min. Two stars out of four.

- David Germain, AP Movie Writer

"Trust the Man"

For all the promise of a cast led by Julianne Moore and David Duchovny in an urbane, adult chronicle of love and marriage, Bart Freundlich's film just strings viewers along through phony contrivance, like any other romantic comedy. The characters meander into artificial predicaments and domestic crises that don't feel authentic or natural. Writer-director Freundlich's characters are slick but sloppy constructs. Moore (Freundlich's wife) and Duchovny play a seemingly affectionate couple well-adjusted to their working-woman, stay-at-home dad arrangement, yet they don't have sex, not for any apparent reason but only to push Freundlich's story forward. Likewise, Billy Crudup's character is a big, goofy kid who refuses to grow up only so Freundlich can set him at odds with his family-minded girlfriend (Maggie Gyllenhaal). R for language and sexual content. 100 min. Two stars out of four.

- David Germain, AP Movie Writer

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