"Act of Valor" — In this high-quality recruitment video, sissy things like plot and character development have been chased out of the theater as if by a barking drill sergeant. Instead of narrative and story, the film takes its propulsion from its verisimilitude. Directed by Mike "Mouse" McCoy and Scott Waugh, it was made in collaboration with the Navy, and stars active duty SEALs in missions based on real ones. The action revolves around the abduction of a CIA agent (Roselyn Sanchez) in Costa Rica following a terrorist explosion at a school in Indonesia. The SEALs are dispatched to a rescue mission in Costa Rica, which unspools a global terrorist plot that stretches to Somalia, Mexico and — if they don't act fast — the United States. The main thrill of the film, which was written by Kurt Johnstad ("300"), is its action pieces. The SEALs' sheer mastery of a skill — their seriousness of purpose and deep pride in their work — can make its own drama. But "Act of Valor" is just as much a fiction as anything Hollywood can create. It's a flashy piece of patriotic propaganda that by exalting the SEALs as supermen, kills their humanity amid the old cliches of action movies. R for strong violence including some torture and for language. 101 minutes. One and a half stars out of four.
— Jake Coyle, AP Entertainment Writer
"Wanderlust" — This would provide an intriguing double feature with "Martha Marcy May Marlene." Both are about people who search for their true selves in woodsy communes, get sucked into the brainwashing and insularity by a charismatic leader and eventually struggle to escape. One of these films contains poop jokes. Guess which one it is. Yes, "Wanderlust" proudly wears its sketch-comedy origins on its sleeve, and that means the gags are as hit-and-miss as you'd imagine. David Wain ("Role Models") directs from a script he co-wrote with longtime friend and collaborator Ken Marino, but it's clear that a lot of improv took place, as well. That's the bread and butter for these guys and their cast members, with whom they've worked in the past on TV ("The State," "Children's Hospital") and in movies ("Wet Hot American Summer," "The Ten"). Some jokes get hammered into the ground; others go well past the point of cringe-inducing awkwardness, which is the point. But some do reach the levels of brilliant, unfettered lunacy to which they aspire. Paul Rudd and Jennifer Aniston star as married Manhattanites who find themselves at a hippie enclave known as Elysium. Justin Theroux, Kerri Kenney-Silver, Malin Akerman and Alan Alda are among its drugged-up denizens. R for sexual content, graphic nudity, language and drug use. 98 minutes. Two and a half stars out of four.
— Christy Lemire, AP Movie Critic