Reel Critics: Traveling the world via chick flicks

I was transported to Egypt, Italy, India and Bali in two new chick flicks about two pretty women who fall in love with a handsome stranger. They also manage endless costume changes from just one small bag. It's every woman's dream come true...

"Cairo Time" is a delicate, bittersweet love story about Juliet, an American who arrives in Cairo to meet with her husband, a U.N. diplomat. He's unable to join her due to a crisis, so asks his friend Tareq (Alexander Siddig) to look after her.

Patricia Clarkson gives a beautifully modulated performance as she grows to enjoy her time alone and forms a tender bond with Tareq. Like her, we fall under the spell of a beautiful city and its culture.

"Eat Pray Love" is three films in one — each devoted to Julia Roberts flashing her toothy smile like it's an ad for whitening products. She plays Liz, a woman grappling with broken relationships (although we never really understand why) who takes a year off to find herself.

Liz grins her way through Rome with heavenly food and wine, tries to find inner peace in India, and finds Felipe, the Perfect Man (Javier Bardem), in Bali. Cue another emotional meltdown. Yawn. The Universe just gave you the lottery, honey — wake up and smell the incense!

Richard Jenkins is superb as a fellow ashram student, and Bardem gets a chance to be the decent, nice guy and sensitive soul. These men were the movie's true saving grace.

Scott Pilgrim can take over the world

Young Michael Cera carved out an acting niche for himself playing characters full of teenage angst. But his roles in "Juno" and "Superbad" pale in comparison to his mind-boggling turn as the star of "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World." It offers hilarious comedy, zany action and clever insight into young adult relationships all at once.

Based on a popular series of graphic novels, this movie splashes across the screen like a psychedelic version of the "Archie" comics. But Scott is a modern and seriously cool version of Archie. He's also got two hot competing babes who fill out the Betty and Veronica roles with a punk rock twist.

The screenplay is so innovative that it has the power to make teens and young adults howl with laughter. At the same time it can transport older adults back into the distant madness of juvenile dating. Top notch special effects and razor sharp wit add to the rollicking roller coaster ride. Yet it still maintains a gentle heart and good nature. It's one of the most enjoyable popcorn movies of the summer.

SUSANNE PEREZ lives in Costa Mesa and is an executive assistant for a financial services company.

JOHN DEPKO is a Costa Mesa resident and a senior investigator for the Orange County public defender's office.

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