— Christy Lemire, AP Movie Critic
‘‘On the Road’’ — Walter Salles’ adaptation of Jack Kerouac’s famous novel was made with noble intentions, finely-crafted filmmaking and handsome casting, but, alas, it does not burn, burn, burn. This first ever big-screen adaptation of the Beat classic doesn’t pulse with the electric, mad rush of Kerouac’s feverish phenomenon. Salles ("The Motorcycle Diaries") approached the book with reverence and deep research, and perhaps that’s the problem — that its spirit got suffocated by respectfulness and affected acting. If anything has made ‘‘On the Road’’ so beloved, it’s not its artful composition, but its yearning: the urgent passion of its characters to break free of themselves and post-war America. As our Dean Moriarty, Kerouac’s stand-in for Neal Cassady, Garrett Hedlund ("Tron") gives his all in an ultimately failed attempt to find Moriarty’s wild magnetism within him. As the center of the book and the film — the Gatsby to our narrator Sal Paradise (Sam Riley) — he’s crucial to ‘‘On the Road’’ working. The women, afterthoughts in the book, have more fire. Salles has focused particularly on the carnality of Kerouac’s tale, and it threatens to overtake the film. As Moriarty’s first wife, Marylou, Kristen Stewart has a slinky sensuality that briefly dominates the movie. But her character is never developed beyond her sexy bohemia. In a few scenes as Moriarty’s heartbroken second wife, Kirsten Dunst makes the strongest impression. Elisabeth Moss, also as one left behind, excels, shouting: ‘‘They dumped me in Tucson! In Tucson!’’ Viggo Mortensen, Steve Buscemi, Terrence Howard and Amy Adams all make cameos, mostly suggesting the prestige of the project. R for strong sexual content, drug use and language. 123 minutes. Two stars out of four.
— Jake Coyle, AP Entertainment Writer
‘‘This Is 40’’ — Every inch a Judd Apatow movie, from the pop culture references and potty mouths to the blunt body humor and escapist drug use. And like all of Apatow’s movies, it’s a good 20 minutes too long. But within that affectionately messy sprawl lies a maturation, an effort to convey something deeper, more personal and more substantive. That goes beyond the casting of his real-life wife, Leslie Mann, as half the couple in question, and the Apatow children, Maude and Iris, as the family’s daughters in this sort-of-sequel to the 2007 hit ‘‘Knocked Up.". As writer and director, Apatow seems more interested in finding painful nuggets of truth than easy laughs. Much of the banter between longtime Los Angeles marrieds Pete (Paul Rudd) and Debbie (Mann) can be very funny, but frequently it’s raw and painful as they have the kind of conversations about kids, finances and sex that might make many people in the audience feel an uncomfortable shiver of recognition. The film takes place during the three-week period when Pete and Debbie are both turning 40 (although Debbie likes to pretend she’s still 38). Birthday parties, fights about money, school confrontations, bratty kid flare-ups and awkward attempts at reconciling with parents are among the many events that occur during this vulnerable time of transition. The strong supporting cast includes Albert Brooks, John Lithgow, Jason Segel and a surprisingly funny Megan Fox. R for sexual content, crude humor, pervasive language and some drug material. 133 minutes. Three stars out of four.
— Christy Lemire, AP Movie Critic