NEW AT THE MOVIES: Owen, Roberts pair well - The Explorer: El Sol

NEW AT THE MOVIES: Owen, Roberts pair well

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Posted: Tuesday, March 24, 2009 11:00 pm | Updated: 1:22 pm, Mon Apr 18, 2011.

Rated PG-13 for language and some sexual content. 118 minutes. Three stars out of four.

Tony Gilroy penetrated the world of corporate corruption with smarts, suspense and searing insight in his 2007 directing debut, “Michael Clayton.”

He revisits that territory with “Duplicity,” only he does it with plenty of sexual tension to go along with his usual crackling dialogue and complex plotting.

Julia Roberts and Clive Owen may not immediately seem like the likeliest screen pair for a romantic comedy, especially following the devastating moments they shared in “Closer.” But here they enjoy a delightful chemistry as former spies and on-again, off-again lovers who scheme to steal tens of millions of dollars from the dueling corporate behemoths that employ them.

Writer-director Gilroy jumps all over in time and location with these two — the globe-trotting and high-tech tactics reminiscent of the “Bourne” movies he scripted — as he follows the constantly evolving relationship between Roberts’ ex-CIA officer Claire Stenwick and Owen’s former MI6 agent Ray Koval.

They’ve figured out a way to rob the rival pharmaceutical companies for whom they serve as undercover operatives in Manhattan.

Tom Wilkinson and Paul Giamatti, as the egomaniac titans of industry on either side of this Park Avenue war, bring substance to what could have been a couple of cartoony roles, and the healthy balance of A-list stars and veteran character actors is part of what makes “Duplicity” so appealing.

But because Claire and Ray are so paranoid themselves, as their careers have required them to be, they never know whether they can trust each other.

When they first meet at a U.S. Embassy party, he seduces her, she slips something in his drink, then ransacks his hotel room and takes off with secret information. Ray has been figuring out ever since then how to confront Claire should their paths cross again — which they do, repeatedly — and the way his tone changes each time he delivers his schpiel is one of many clever running gags.

The threat of a double-cross keeps them both on their toes and infuses their affair with a buzzing and frequently hilarious tension. That’s precisely why it seems so needless when Gilroy eventually gives in and spells things out for us. The guessing game was too addictive — for them and for us — and it didn’t have to end.

I LOVE YOU, MAN

R for pervasive language, including crude and sexual references. 105 min. Three stars out of four.

The newly minted “bromance” genre, with its now-familiar mix of the sweet, awkward and raunchy, has become a part of the cultural consciousness through movies like “Superbad,” “Pineapple Express” and “Role Models.”

But it reaches its zenith with this comedy starring Paul Rudd and Jason Segel as two completely different guys who form an unlikely friendship.

Rudd’s Peter Klaven, a sensitive real estate agent who’s about to get married, realizes he has no male pals when he’s forced to ponder his choice for best man. Segel’s Sydney Fife enters his life as the most charming force of nature.

The beauty of the film lies both in the details of their relationship and the larger chemistry Rudd and Segel share.

It’s actually a rather bold concept to explore in a movie that’s so clearly intended for the mainstream, and for teen and 20something men in particular.

“I Love You, Man” dares to get to the heart of intimate male friendships.

We’re onto something true and honest here, which is why it’s so disappointing to see the film repeatedly cater to the lowest common denominator with vomit and flatulence jokes.

© 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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