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August 2012

Adolescence Hangover

The Inbetweeners (2011)

Nicola Dove/Wrekin Hill Entertainment

One of the reasons that Europe is better than North America is a lower drinking age. In Britain, one can be served beer with a meal (a packet of potato chips counts) from the age of 16; on the continent, you are allowed beer and wine without restriction but must wait until 18 or 21, depending on the country, before being legally allowed spirits. No one, of course, lies to get around it. This means that British teenagers have the full spring break experience at 18 in Mediterranean resorts such as Malia in Crete and Magaluf in Spain, where “The Inbetweeners” was filmed. And yet somehow no one had previously thought to make a movie of the whole vomit-covered, Red-Bull-and-vodka-soaked, dance-music-scored mess which was both suitable for the international market and starring actual teenagers.

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Home Truths Will Out

The Imposter (2012)

Erik Wilson/Indomina Releasing

San Antonio, Texas, in 1994, mischievous 13-year-old Nicholas Barclay disappeared without a trace. For three years his family pined for him, searching, praying and holding out hope that he would one day be found alive and well. Then the seemingly miraculous happened as Nicholas appeared in Spain — afraid and alone, the apparent victim of a child prostitution ring. Except “Nicholas” was not whom he claimed to be and so transpires an utterly beguiling and completely baffling journey into the psyche of serial impersonator and eccentric con man Frédéric Bourdin.

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Planet Hollywood

The Expendables 2 (2012)

Frank Masi/Lionsgate

Whereas “The Expendables” somewhat benefited from the novelty of seeing the likes of Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis sharing the big screen in a dumb, explosive homage to the type of ’80s action films that made them household names, the same cannot be said for “The Expendables 2,” which is little more than a depressing embarrassment.

An overblown prologue reintroduces our mercenary mob that is up to its usual antics, this time embarking on a death-hungry, munitions-fueled rescue mission in Nepal. Goons are summarily executed in visceral fashion, while ears are aurally assaulted by gunfire and increasingly lame throwaway one-liners along the lines of “your ass is terminated.” If Mr. Stallone and Richard Wenk’s script wasn’t cringe-inducing enough, then the cheap ’80s look and feel beget the question of whether director Simon West chose to co-opt VHS as film stock of choice in order to transport his audience into some sort of meta nightmare.

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